I was supposed to go on a great sounding hike today: exploring the trails around Hakone, taking a dip at a mountain hot spring, enjoying views of Mount Fuji and autumn colors. Unfortunately a steady rainfall canceled the trip the night before. Since I had already cleared the day of activities, I decided to head into Tokyo for some wandering. My friend Malin was going to hike with me and came along to Tokyo as well.
We started at Reissue, a cafe in Harajuku famous for its 3D latte art and portraits in foam. We arrived shortly after their 10AM opening and placed our orders. We got our own portraits done, while other customers went for 3D animals and graciously allowed us to photograph their orders. We all ooh’ed and aah’ed for several minutes, then reluctantly drank our creations.
Next we headed to Meiji Jingu Shrine, located in Yoyogi Park. Meiji Shrine was built in 1920 as a resting place for the souls Emperor and Empress Meiji, though they are both interred in Kyoto. Meiji Shrine tops the list as Japan’s most visited shrine, but you wouldn’t know it while you’re there. The entrance promenade takes a solid ten minutes to traverse, and the winding paths disperse the crowds enough that you never feel too crowded. Today’s rains probably helped.
After wandering the shrine a bit, Malin suggested that we visit the Iris Garden path, including a stop at the Kiyomasa-Ido (well), the fountainhead for the nearby pond. The friendly guard there chatted up the visitors, led us forward one by one, encouraged us to dip our fingers in the water, and even shared his favorite well photos on his phone. Malin and I imagined him going home every evening and telling his wife where his guests were from that day.
We headed back to the train for a long ride to the north side of Tokyo and the lovely Nippori fabric shopping district. But alas–today’s Japanese holiday of Labor Thanksgiving Day (“The law establishing the holiday cites as an occasion for commemorating labor and production and giving one another thanks”) meant closed shops, and a really long, unnecessary detour.