The different sides of Shibuya

{ Japan April 2010 - Day 3 - Shibuya, Tokyo }

We spent the day around Shibuya, spending our day in Meiji Shrine and around Harajuku, and the night in the famous Shibuya shopping area. 

The Traditional Culture

Meiji Shrine, or Meiji Jingū (明治神宮) as it is called in Japanese, is a Shinto shrine. You could easily recognise that it is a shinto shrine by the torii gates that are found at the entrance and along the walkway leading to the shrine. There were also sake and wine barrels displayed along the way that were offered to the shrine.

We managed to pick up some of the practices and etiquette when visiting a Shinto shrine. Before going into the shrine, we were supposed to rinse our hands and mouth on the washing basin in front of the shrine. In the main shrine, the steps for prayers were as follow:
  1. Put some coins into the offering box
  2. Bow twice
  3. Clap twice
  4. Make a wish
  5. Bow once again
We also noticed various boards with wooden tables right outside the shrine. They were full of wishes and prayers of people from all around the world (judging by the different languages) and ages (some with words and others with only drawings). There were also papers and envelopes nearby where one can write their wishes in a letter to the deities.

During our short time in Meiji Shrine, we were lucky enough to witness several wedding ceremonies being held, or rather, just the processions that were part of the wedding ceremony. The procession was a relatively solemn affair, with the bride and groom walking slowly in a procession that were being led by some priests, and followed by family and friends. I do hope that they have some celebration and parties held after the ceremony!

The Fashionable Youths

Right outside the Meiji Shrine, and on the way to the Harajuku Station, there were usually groups of young people dressing up in all styles and fashion imaginable (and some, unimaginable!) every Sundays. I was looking forward to seeing them - arranging my visit to Shibuya on a Sunday - but unfortunately, there were not that many on that day. If not for the language barrier, it should be quite interesting to talk to them. Wonder what made them dress up the way they did!

The main shopping street in Harajuku was filled with people! The shops catered mainly for the young Japanese with lots of fashionable clothing being sold here.

The Modern Japan

After spending some time walking around Harajuku, we took the train to Shibuya Station. Just right outside the station, was a statue of a dog - Hachiko (ハチ公). I have been wanting to see the statue ever since I read about his story. The dog was owned by a professor at the University of Tokyo. At the end of everyday, Hachiko would greet and wait for his owner at Shibuya Station. This continued on everyday until May 1925 when the professor did not return on the train because he had suffered a heart attack at the university and died. He never returned, but his loyal dog continued to wait for him every single day at the same time for the next nine years. He died on 8 March 1935 on the steps of the station while waiting for his master. The statue in Shibuya Station was erected in 1934 with Hachiko himself being present during the unveiling of the statue.

And, Shibuya Crossing! My, that must be the biggest and most interesting pedestrian crossing I've ever seen. Crossing it was pretty exciting, too! With people all around you, it was easy to lose track of which section of the crossing you were planning to go to.

Shibuya was full of energy, neons, people and lots and lots of shops and shopping opportunities! We spent some time walking around the area and shopping too, of course!

All in all, it was an amazing day out around Shibuya. From the solemnness and traditions in Meiji Shrine, to the amazing energy in Harajuku and Shibuya. Couldn't wait to see what else Tokyo have to offer!

::: Footnotes :::

{ Meiji Shrine } Meiji Shrine (明治神宮 Meiji Jingū) is a Shinto shrine in Shibuya, Tokyo. There are various practices and etiquette in a Shinto shrine. Visit this website for the details

{ HarajukuHarajuku (原宿) means meadow lodging. Once you step out of the Harajuku Station, you can easily experience the youthful energy of the area. Do visit on a Sunday when young people dressed up in cosplay and costumes hang out around the area. 

{ Shibuya } Shibuya is written as 渋谷区 and pronounced as Shibuya-ku. Hachiko (ハチ公) and Shibuya Crossing is right outside the Shibuya Station. Enjoy the neons and all the shopping!

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