Tokyo, Japan: Meiji Shrine, Harajuku, Yoyogi Park, and Kaiten Sushi

Yamanote Line

By the second day of our trip, this was quickly becoming a very common, and very welcome sight. You can get darn near anywhere in Tokyo, and even to quite a few other places in Japan, by using their very extensive public transportation system.

Train station

The trains, I love them. Oh, how I wish we had a transportation system like this in Los Angeles! How wonderful that would be. 😀

Yamanote Line

Another sight that quickly became common was that of the guys I was traveling with taking pictures.

Son taking pictures

Lots of pictures.

Francis taking pictures

Quite often, all taking the same picture. 😉

Dave taking pictures

Me in front of the Meiji Shrine Entrance

On our second full day in Japan, we went to the Harajuku area, and visited the Meiji Shinto Shrine.


Me and Dave in front of the sake

Gifts of wine from France

Wash before praying

While we were there, both a wedding and a special annual ceremony were occurring.

Inside the Shrine

Just off the (very long) path that lead to the shrine, there was a beautiful garden, complete with a lake and tea houses, that we stopped by after visiting the shrine.

Bird in the garden inside Meiji Shrine

Lake in the garden inside Meiji Shrine
Photo courtesy of David Calhoun

Inside the garden was a sacred well, from which the purest of water was supposed to originate. There was a little path down to the well, where you could dip a piece of paper (that had been given to you at the entrance to the garden) as a sort of spiritual keepsake. From what we could tell, it is supposed to grant you good luck.

Pure well in the garden inside Meiji Shrine
Photo courtesy of David Calhoun

Signs in the garden inside Meiji Shrine
Photo courtesy of David Calhoun

For lunch we headed across the street to Harajuku, where we had some very, very good tempura and udon. Mmm. So good.


After lunch, we stopped by a crepe truck… good stuff. We’d tried these sort of crepes once before back in LA, and read about them on Todd and Diane’s blog… definitely try them at least once (if not more!) if you ever visit Japan.

Photo courtesy of David Calhoun

Vending Machine!
Photo courtesy of David Calhoun

After lunch we headed over to Yoyogi Park… and somehow Son and I got separated from the rest of our group, because we stopped to take this picture:

Motorcycle in Harajuku

Oops. 0:-)

(He wasn’t the only crazy driver there!)

We didn’t realize until later that we had followed that motorcycle all the way to Yoyogi Park!

Same motorcycle in Yoyogi park!

In the plaza just outside the park, there were quite a few Japanese men of all ages, dressed up as Elvis and dancing to his music. ‘Twas very strange… it almost seemed like a competition at times, two groups trying to play their music louder than each other, and trying to get more people to gather around watching them.

Apparently this is a club of Rockabilly dancers who do this quite often… you can do a search for Yoyogi Park on YouTube, and you’ll find quite a few videos of the dancers.

Elvis... and Elvis... and Elvis...

Son and I took a nice, long stroll through the park… which was gigantic, and filled with people. Some places you could hardly see the ground, there were so many people having picnics, and sitting around. Other places, it was tranquil, with only the many cherry blossom trees surrounding you.

Yoyogi Park

There were people doing just about anything you could think of, in the park. There were groups of people rehearsing dances, playing instruments, playing frisbee or volleyball… even tightrope walking, on ropes strung between two trees. A long bike path snaked around the perimeter of the park, ending at a shop where you could rent bikes for a little while, and there was even a dog park near the far side of the park, with three different fenced sections for different size dogs.

Dog Park



By the time we walked all the way around the park, we were hungry again… and with all of those food stands close to the entrance of the park, we just couldn’t resist the allure of Japanese street food. 😀

Food stands in Yoyogi Park

Yakisoba, grilled scallops, and egg and vegetable pancakes with scallops. All very, very good. Probably some of the best cooked scallops I’ve ever had!

Grilled scallops with cheese

Egg and vegetable pancakes with scallop

By then we still hadn’t found the rest of our group, so we headed back to the hotel, where we finally found them. (Turns out they had crossed the street while we had stopped at the corner to take the picture, and we didn’t cross… so we were actually very close, just on the opposite sides of the street when we lost each other.)

An hour or two to rest, and then dinner!

Unagi nigiri

For dinner that night, we went to a little kaiten sushi (conveyer belt sushi) place in Shinagawa Station (the very large train station right next to our hotel).

Sushi on the conveyer belt

And ate lots of sushi.

Many plates

Lots of sushi.

Shush. Don’t judge. I like sushi. 😉

And some very good sushi it was.

Francis eating sushi

Don’t forget, you have until Wednesday, May 12 to enter the giveaway, for an opportunity to win one of two sets of nori and a rolling mat from Japan!

Just leave a comment on any of the daily posts about my Japan trip… you can enter once on each post about the trip, so you have up to 8 chances to win!

10 thoughts on “Tokyo, Japan: Meiji Shrine, Harajuku, Yoyogi Park, and Kaiten Sushi”

  1. leslie -

    I just wanted to thank you so much for sharing your excursion to Japan with us. I lived in Okinawa for four years, but it has been over 14 years since I was there. I miss it terribly. I love the people (and of course, the food!). They are beautiful, gentle, patient, people! They didn’t laugh too hard at my horrible attempts at speaking Japanese, either! My mother came to visit me each year while I was there, and absolutely fell in love with it, just as I did. And, my son (who is 14 1/2 now) was conceived there. I am eager to be an armchair tourist with you for the rest of this journey. Thank you again!

  2. Allison -

    Scott – Thanks! Yeah, we’ve got buses and an alright rail system (although the metro rail doesn’t come anywhere near where I live) but it’s definitely not as extensive, nor as clean as Tokyo’s.

    The guy in the picture was making some sort of pancake, that consisted of a light batter, a whole egg, shredded vegetables, and scallops. Topped with a brown sauce and a mayo sauce. Very good. 🙂

    Michele – I’ve never been to Boston, but if the train system is anything like Japan’s, I’ll bet I’d love it. 🙂

    Leslie – Aren’t the people there wonderful? We didn’t want to leave. In fact, we’re seriously considering moving there for maybe a year or two… we already miss it terribly.

    Barbara – I agree, we’re already for another trip there ourselves. 🙂

    Japan Australia – Same here! It would be so nice to have a clean, safe, reliable public transportation system like Japan’s, where there’s really no need for a car.

  3. Alejandra Gutierrez -

    OMG! I am so jealous. That sushi looked like heaven. I bet it was like heaven had just landed in your mouth. That might sound sexual, but o-well. SUSHiiiii is just simply amazing to me.
    AND JAPAN. I am even more jealous. Japan is just full of life, different than whats here in Cali so colorful… I am just thinking about the food really and I am actually making myself really HUNGRY!

  4. Elizabeth -

    It’s so great that you’re finally getting to visit Japan, or any country for that matter. The sushi looks divine. One of these days, I certainly hope to visit Japan for a little longer than 24 hours, and I might make it a South Asian adventure.

  5. Helen -

    Hi Allison,

    Great review and wonderful pictures! I’m heading to Japan in October and have been obsessing over all the blogs regarding Japan. I have my itinerary almost done (I’m a big PLANNER)! Your posts have gotten super excited! Thanks!!