Tokyo Walking Tour: Shibuya and Harajuku

15 03 2009

Tokyo is a huge city. Luckily, it is extremely pedestrian-friendly so there are many ways to avoid the subways and trains and use your feet to see the sights. This is a pictorial essay, with descriptions, of a walking tour of Shibuya and Harajuku.

YamanoteYamanote
We took the Yamanote-sen to Shibuya, although there at least five other train and subway lines you can take into this part of the city. The Yamanote loops around Tokyo and takes you to all of the major parts of the city.

Hachiko
Exit the station at the “Hachiko Exit” and find this statue of Hachiko, a famous dog that has turned into one of the most popular meeting places in all of Tokyo. Hachiko was a loyal pet who waited for his master at Shibuya station every day and walked home with him. Even after his master died, he continued to wait at the station every day and was eventually memorialized in this statue.

outback
Through the winding streets just outside of the station, you will find a hodge podge of shops and restaurants. We walked straight away from the station up Center Gai street, turned right, and sadly saw this Outback Steakhouse, which confirms the infiltration of bad American chains.

graffitti grafitti
Shibuya is popular with the younger generation and sometimes screams pop culture from every crevice. This side alley’s wall was popping with colors, and although the cuteness is obvious, there is usually a slightly macabre undertone to the art.

salad
tea

We walked away from Outback and saw a Lawson on the corner. For a cheap lunch, stop at any neighborhood Lawson. My favorite lunches were the fresh salads with one of the many varieties of iced tea–green, black, barley, you name it. If you love tea, you’ll be in stimulus overload. Lawsons are everywhere, but if you’d like a map, go to Google Maps and zoom in on any area. The maps will show most convenience store locations as icons. Lawson is blue with a white milk bottle.

taiko
taiko game
We turned right at the Lawson and walked towards the station again. We noticed this taiko drum game in one of the arcades that keep people busy at all hours. These are contraband photos–no picture taking allowed in the arcades! You can also get “purikura” with your friends to pass the time and take home as a cheap and unique souvenir.

manga shop
Mandarake is one of the most famous comic and anime shops in Tokyo. Walk down into the depths and the bowels of this shop and you are greeted with rows and rows of comics, home made figurines, and even a stage where the employees dress up and do cosplay.

random crepe shop
Crepes are another cheap snack and we stopped at this one across the street from Mandarake. Our choice: cinnamon apple and whipped creme.

Here is a great map of this area from the Shibuya Mandarake website:

Shibuya crossing
Be careful at Shibuya Crossing at the Hachiko exit. During the day, the crowds aren’t as thick, but when darkness falls, you could get lost in the shuffle.

The 30-minute walk from Shibuya to Harajuku is a straight shot up Meiji-dori. We passed this temple, and I still can’t figure out which one it is.random shrine

tacoyaki

Our first venture in the Harajuku area was to Yoyogi-koen. For a snack, Matt got some takoyaki at one of the stalls that is set up along the edge of the park.

sake

Back towards Harajuku train station is Meiji-jingu, one of my favorite places to escape from the frenetic nature of Tokyo. Since New Years had just passed, the sake barrels that were donated by breweries were still on display.

meiji

The famous torii-gate at the entrance of Meiji. I probably have a dozen different photos in front of this gate.

meiji wedding

We just so happened to be at Meiji on Valentines Day, which is why (I think) we saw so many weddings. Usually I would see a wedding every other time I visited Meiji but on this day, we saw at least three in a row. Meiji is one of the most famous shrines for people to get married.

meiji

Harajuku station
After walking around Shibuya, to Harajuku, and through Meiji, we were exhausted, but walking is always a great way to see more of the city. We hopped on the Yamanote at Harajuku station and headed home.

You can see more shots of our walking tour on our flickr site.

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Montreal Walking Tour Part 2

6 10 2008

I am finally posting some photos and comments on the second day I was walking around Montreal in August.  Please enjoy!

I started walking around the area of my hotel, near the University of Quebec, and took a quick tour of their housing facilities (the bright yellow building above).  Very interesting with beautiful old homes lining the Rue St. Urbain.

After the tour, I strolled through the Quartier Latin (Latin Quarter).  The shops, decorations, restaurants, and atmosphere were lively and casual.  Many of the streets I walked along, including Rue Amherst, were pedestrian only, which made casual strolling a delight.

Most of the shops were unique to the area, save for the occasional McDonalds and GAP, but the architecture was quaint with no high-rises or towering massive structures in the immediate vicinity.  The bibliotheque (library) pictured below is beautiful in spite of its obvious modern look in the middle of the other old-fashioned buildings.  Urban Photos blogs about the library here.

I stopped to relax and for some refreshment at Maison de the Camellia Sinensis, an authentic tea shop down the Rue Emery. The side of the shop with table service had an offering of unique teas and natural snacks. I chose a mint tea, which came slightly sweetened, and a crunchy and very healthy fruit and nut bar.

Montreal is a very gay-friendly city.

I hope you enjoyed the two-day walking tour of photos!  Montreal is an amazing city to visit, and a very wallet-friendly alternative to visiting Europe in today’s economy.