Last time I was in Tokyo, I was hoping I had seen more of the craziness Tokyo is known for, and my goodness did I find more than I could ever dream of on my next trip!
This time, I went to Harajuku district, Shibuya district and Yoyogi park. I began in Yoyogi park, expecting to find it similar to the parks I had seen before in Tokyo with gravel paths bordering dead grass you were not allowed to walk on. Immediately upon entering Yoyogi park, I was met with a massive archway to symbolize the entrance and hundreds of people walking through at only 10AM!
As I walked down the main path to Yoyogi temple, huge trees bent over the walkway and small side paths led off to somewhere else in the forest. The Yoyogi temple was beautifully situated in the middle of the forest, but it was so packed I quickly left to find a more quiet place in the park. Sure enough, after following one of the side paths, I was led to a clearing with a pond and just a few people napping or playing with their children where I joined them to relax.
After my rest, I walked to Harajuku district, located directly outside of Yoyogi park. It was a complete 180 from the serenity I had just experienced. Not even by my own volition, I was pushed with a herd of people heading for Takashita Street, the start of the famous shopping and fashion area of Tokyo.
It was so packed that many of the stores I was interested in entering I could not get my way through the the throng of people! The shops were mainly directed at women, selling feminine clothes, accessories and food. Occasionally, I would be able to go inside a store just to leave the hoard of people only to be met with a slightly less crowded store. One place I was determined to find was Tokyo’s Totti Candy Factory, world famous for its cotton candy. After going inside the store, I see why it is so famous!
Three hours later, and thousands of yen spent, I retreated to the train station to hopefully find a less busy Shibuya district. I could not have been more wrong. Shibuya, specifically Shibuya crossing, is precisely the noisy, bright and crowded Tokyo I expected, but seeing and experiencing it in person was quite overwhelming. You think New York city is crowded, but then you see this and New York might as well be like comparing Minneapolis, Minnesota to Chicago. The Shibuya district which is full of bright lights and people does not cover more than six or seven blocks in each direction, but those blocks are teeming and overflowing with life.
I am happy I can finally say I know why Tokyo has the reputation it does, but it makes me ever so thankful I am working in Osaka and not in Tokyo.