さようなら Tokyo

In the sprawling metropolis that is Tokyo there are endless things to discover so for our last full day we decided to make the most of our daily metro pass and cover as much as we could, first stop Shibuya.

Just outside the station is a small bronze statue of an Akita dog called Hachiko, something of a hero in Japan.

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The story goes that everyday Hachiko walked with his master, a professor at Tokyo University, to the Shibuya train station to see him off to work. Each afternoon Hachiko would return to greet his master at the end of the day. This daily ritual continued for two years and the pair were inseparable. Tragically Hachiko’s master suffered a cerebral haemorrhage at work and never came home one day, loyal Hachiko returned every morning and evening looking for him. Hachiko did this for the rest of his 12 years. He became something of a national celebrity and passersby would bring him treats. He was even there for the unveiling of his own statue, eventually passing away peacefully on the street outside the station. His spirit now lives on in the form of his statue, and weirdly, in the National Science Museum in Ueno where he was placed following taxidermy (we didn’t visit him; we thought that was a bit morbid).

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We continued from here to the Government Metropolitan building. Here you can take the lift from the main building up to the North or South observation floor for an impressive (and free!) view of the skyline. We opted out following our trip up the sky tower the previous day and took in the towers from ground level instead.

Heading out of the high rise and for a bit of greenery we took the tube to Yoyogi Park and the Meiji Jingu shrine. A peaceful park in the heart of the city it was lovely to have a moment of tranquillity. As we walked along the wide paths the sun shone down streams of light ahead of us, it was beautiful.

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The bank holiday was over now but still throngs of business men swarmed the centre of the park and the shrine itself. We swam our way through the crowds and back to the freedom of the path, continuing to the other side of the park and Harajuku.

Harajuku is known as the quirky, trendy area of Tokyo, and with good reason! Full of cat cafes, and the youth of Japan dressed up in anime style clothing. There was rainbow coloured candyfloss shaped like a giant ice creams and we found the most incredible pet shop with just about every cat/dog dress up outfit you could ever fathom. The main street, Takeshita Dori is full of loud music, bright colours and weird sights, a joyful assault on the senses.

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A compulsory activity in Tokyo is the infamous Shibuya crossing, visually one of the best know images of Tokyo and quite a fitting representation of the madness that the city offers (saying that though our day had been an undulation between crazy and calm as there is much more to the city than is often portrayed).

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We obviously took part in the crossing of this street and had timed it, as any savvy traveller should, to coincide with rush hour for maximum chaos. We then headed to a cafe above the street and enjoyed the show which was as good as any spectator sport.

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Each new wave of people brought a multitude of delights, the straight shooters – heads down straight across, the selfie takers stopping halfway causing mayhem, and the best of all the chancers – setting off just a bit too late but nonchalantly making the traffic wait regardless.

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As the evening wore on and darkness fell we headed to the electronics district of Shinjuku where billboards light the streets and business men sway between bars.

A lively part of town, the entertainment district of Kabuchiko is host to an array of gaming bars, dubious basements and restaurants. A luminescent end to a day of Tokyo’s finest.

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さようなら Tokyo!

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