Sunday, April 4, 2010

Day 14 Yoyogi Koen (Tokyo)

13th February, 2003 - Arriving back in Tokyo we quickly returned from Haneda airport back to the city where we deposited our bags back at the hotel. Feeling the march of time, and sensing the last chapter of our trip was well and truly starting we hit the streets.

First thing... we went straight to Yoyogi Kouen (park) with the plan to visit Meiji-jingu. You don't realise it, except perhaps from atop the Metropolitan Government Building, just how big Yoyogi Kouen is. And how fertile and green. It is perhaps hard to get a sense of perspective... and at times like these, I find it best to hug a tree and get back to nature (even if it's part of a giant Torii gate). This is best approached from JR Harajuku station... where you might see some interesting characters on your way.

The Japanese have another theory.... and that is - drink a lot of Sake. For some reason, Sake and shrines go hand-in-hand... indeed, you will often see Sake casks lined up, as if to say... join in, we have REALLY GOOD PARTIES! The barrels are for decoration only (no free samples sorry), and as such are known as kazaridaru. The relevenance - well apparently the word for sake used to sound a whole lot like the word for god... o'miki. Anyway, a long story and most probably just a good excuse for a booze up.
 ? ; )

Meiji-jingu (as you may have gathered) is a relatively new shrine... it was developed following the Emperor Meiji's death in 1912, and was completed in 1920. The Shrine itself has two areas : an outer garden (gaien) and inner or naien). The shrine is entered through a mon (gate), where you will find a wide open paved area leading to the mian hall.

Below is the main hall, where the souls of the Emperor Meiji and his wife Empress Shoken are enshrined. You will also find a museum that houses a large number of personal artifacts, but I suspect that this is more interesting to the Japanese themselves, or else people with a bit more time on their hands.

The gardens however are worth spending some time wandering around - and as twilight approaches the lights passing through the trees can be breath-taking. At least if you're there.

The gardens are both wild and yet at the same time tamed. The paths can lead to many secret areas where you can just catch your breath, and relax in the relative silence of Yoyogi park. This is the sort of place where you might be able to re-charge your batteries - and well located to hit the streets of Shibuya afterwards!

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