Shibuya is a large district with plenty to explore. As I’d already learned from my last few days in Japan, most commercial places open in the late morning. For an early riser, that doesn’t mean there isn’t anything to do. Public parks are the best place to go in the morning, since they’re already open, and usually free to enter. I decided to head to Meiji Shrine. On my way there, I walk large trees providing lush shade. The entrance to the complex is marked by a large wooden torii gate. In the complex were large, shady camphor trees overlooking visitors to the shrine for early morning prayers.
After a pleasant and serene walk around for about an hour or so, I found an ice-cream parlour near the exit. They had a common but more expensive green tea flavour which I haven’t tried yet, called special green tea ice cream, at 500 yen. I decided to give it a go. The matcha was much more robust and stronger than the usual 300 yen green tea flavour.
I found a decent lunch at a nearby ramen place, Kyushu Janggara, selling Kyushu-style ramen. Inside, they were blasting loud techno club music. Looking through the English menu, I see spicy options were available, but I wasn’t in the mood for them, so I got their non-spicy ramen for 1100 yen.
The ramen came with seasoned cod roe, soft boiled egg, and both flat and block chashu. I personally never found block chashu appealing. It reminds me of canned pork meat I had as a kid. The cod roe is salty and spicy; mixed into the soup, it provides a low key burn. Thin noodles swam in the light chicken and pork bone broth. Although the light broth was pretty good, I do think I still prefer thicker broths. The noodles were alright, but not so appealing that I am slurping it up quickly. Their texture reminded me of the wanton mee back home. The longer I waited, the softer the noodles became.
After lunch, it was time to walk around Harajuku to soak in some vibes.
Takeshita street on Harajuku is super crowded on a Sunday, but everyone is very young and shorter than me. so I could look over everyone’s heads. I liked the hip and young atmosphere this place exuded. There were a lot of sweets shops selling desserts like crepes. It slowed down to a shuffle at parts, like a parade. I also checked out a used clothing store called Kinji, which had fashionable clothing at really good prices.
As I walked, I found myself in Omotesando, which is much less crowded. There are all sorts of boutique cafes here. and a curious variety of shops selling outdoor clothing, such as Columbia and Keen. Then I walked to Yoyogi park.
It turned out that Yoyogi park having a bazaar or festival amidst the hanami picnics today. I was convinced to part with 700 yen for a refreshing beer. It was crowded, but very festive. The cherry blossoms were falling, a spellbinding sight.
At the concert stage, alternative music bands played their weird pieces while a standing crowded swayed to the beats. The best part was that it was free to enjoy! I joined them for a few songs, feeling like part of the young Japanese hipster crowd. There were all kinds of acts, from an elderly band, a beat boxer, and an avant garde DJ from Sapporo. As the music played, I moved to the rhythm, and let myself enjoy the rest of the afternoon.