Around Tokyo Part 2: Tokyo Tower, Meiji Temple, Niigata, Shinjuku, Harajuku, Omotesando Hills, Shibuya, and Disney Resorts

November 23, 2013 § Leave a comment

I am very fortunate to have a good friend living in Tokyo because she and her husband were able to tour me around the famous spots in Tokyo. I listed the spots I’ve visited on the rest of my stay in Japan below.

1. Tokyo Tower

Before the Skytree was built, the Tokyo Tower was one of highest TV towers in Tokyo. I thought that a higher structure such as the Skytree would affect this old tower’s popularity but upon seeing it, I realized that it has its own special appeal that still attract a lot of tourists. Initially, it would remind you of Paris’ Eiffel Tower and consequently, a romantic vibe arises. Up the tower, I saw Tokyo’s shining city lights: blinking reds, colorful LEDs of companies, mellow mood lights from nearby restaurants–the city is so alive and it just engulfed me. I felt like a speck of dust in this huge city, trying to find where the city lights would end on the horizon. Whenever I go on trips, I always take a moment to pause, take it all in, feel the place, and try to keep a strong memory of that feeling in my head. When I was up the Tokyo Tower, I did just that. It’s a pity I wasn’t holding somebody’s hand. Ooops, let’s not get soft.

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2. Disney Resorts Tokyo

My friends and I spent two days in the Disney Resorts because it’s divided into Disneyland and Disney Sea theme parks. We had to move from our Shinjuku hotel to a Disney Hotel, which is a bus ride away from the theme parks. I wasn’t particularly ecstatic about the setup because I didn’t want to spend two days in a theme park. I’m more of a stroll and explore kind of person so I thought two days was a waste. I could have spent that one day just walking around Tokyo. However, the theme park experience wasn’t bad at all. Disney never disappoints, except for Hong Kong (smirk).

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We spent our first day at Disneyland. It was neither exceptionally big, nor disappointingly small. It was big enough to tire me out at the end of the day. It’s catered for the younger kids because there’s not a lot of adventure rides that I’d go crazy about. However, it was a good place to take photos and sightsee. A good ride from that part of the park is the Space Mountain (but it made my neck hurt after).

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I enjoyed Disney Sea way better than Disneyland. It had a lot of fun rides/attractions and it featured Agrabah and Atlantis, places from my favorite Disney movies! When I saw Agrabah’s structure, I was literally spazzing while (sort of) forcing my friends to go there right away. Disney Sea was also a lot bigger than Disneyland. It had a big open space for water performances and it looks like a place you’d only see in Europe. I loved it. We took a lot of exciting rides including Indiana Jones, Journey to the Center of the Earth, and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.

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3. Niigata Prefecture via Bullet Train (Shinkansen)

We also visited the Niigata Prefecture, which is located north of the Tokyo Prefecture. This place is famous for its ski resorts. My friends and I took the Shinkansen/Bullet Train for two hours to arrive there. Doesn’t it look so badass?

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It was my first time to touch and play with snow so it was quite an exciting experience as well. In this part of Japan, you would see rural qualities that are absent in Tokyo. I saw traditional houses, low-rise apartments and hotels, traditional restaurants, and small box cars Japanese people love to use.

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4. Meiji Temple

My friend Sashico and her husband, Takehiro, were so kind to take me to the famous Meiji Temple. It’s just around Shibuya area and I was really amazed that a place of such historical value could be in the middle of a very busy city. Before going inside, there’s a washing spot just outside the temple gate. I was told that people who go in should clean their hands first.

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We were so lucky to have witnessed a traditional Japanese wedding, which occurred in the temple during our visit. My friend said I was very lucky because for the longest time she’s been in Japan, it’s also her first time to witness such! She told me that traditional Japanese weddings are more expensive than white weddings because the fee for Meiji Temple alone is so expensive. I noticed that the bridal train was relatively smaller than what I would imagine an expensive wedding to be.  I believe this was one of the highlights in my Japan trip because it’s such a rare experience!

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Lucky us, there were two weddings! *Pats myself on the back*

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Sashico told me that Gindaco has one of the best tasting takoyakis around Tokyo. She didn’t pass the opportunity to buy one for me. I ordered cheese-flavored takoyakis and it was really delicious!

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5. Harajuku / Takeshita Street

When Sashico told me she’ll take me to Harajuku, I got so excited because I know I could see wierd Japanese fashion there. I’m not particularly a fan of wearing weird fashion pieces but it would be awesome if I saw some Lolita girls or cosplayers. At about 4 in the afternoon, the Takeshita Street was really crowded.

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Gotcha!

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6. Omotesando Hills

One place that I really adored in Tokyo would have to be Omotesando Hills. This road has a wide array of buildings with amazing architecture. Building upon building, you’ll see an engaging appeal that would just make you look and say ‘Ah, now that’s a pretty bulding.’ It’s not a budget friendly place so I wouldn’t even dare spend anything here. It’s just a nice place if you’re into architecture or design.

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6. Shibuya

And finally, Shibuya. What can I say? Shibuya is what I’ve always imagined Tokyo to be like. It has the crowd, the LED lights, the squiggly Japanese words on billboards, and malls that I have pictured in my head. This is Tokyo at its busiest. We dropped by Shibuya 109, which is an entire building only for women’s apparell. Crazy, I know!

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6. Shinjuku

Here are some shots we took while walking around Shinjuku.

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7. Chiba University, Chiba Prefecture

Last but not the least, here’s a few shots from Chiba University. After all, it’s the main reason why I went to Tokyo anyway. This was taken just after I presented my conference paper. 🙂 The blooming Cherryblossoms were a great icing on the cake!

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Japan is a wonderful place and I wish I could visit again, hopefully with my family. Next time, I would love to visit Kyoto so I could be emerged in the old Japan culture. For people who are planning to visit Japan, I say save up, and enjoy! Arigato gozaimazu!

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