On our way to India, S and I extended our Tokyo layover to allow us to go into the city. I'd never been to Japan before, but S had spent a summer there and had been wanting to go back for some time.

Because it was only a short visit, we stuck to just two Tokyo neighborhoods: Shibuya and Harajuku. Some favorite moments:

+ being immediately blown away by the train from the airport which, when it reached the end of the line, rotated all its seats so they faced forward for the new direction
+ meeting with friends from college after five years (!) for Japanese tapas -- the shark's fin soup was the surprise runaway favorite
+ testing out the most complex photobooth I've ever been in -- this required some serious skill!
+ discovering little shrines and temples in the most unexpected places -- up a long staircase or down a leafy alleyway
+ taking in some of the beautiful fall foliage in Harajuku's Yoyogi Park
+ strolling under the massive torii, made from entire tree trunks, and into a forest in the city
+ admiring the huge decorative sake barrels at the entrance to Meiji shrine -- they represent annual donations to the shrine from Japanese sake brewers
+ figuring out how to cleanse our hands and mouths at this simple fountain before entering the shrine -- thank you random stranger who didn't comment on my blatant copy-catting :)
+ reading the many prayers and wishes left by others on slim wooden ornaments (first image)
+ wandering down Harajuku's main commercial streets -- the elegant tree-lined Omotesando avenue and the frenetic Takeshita Dori (made famous by Gwen Stefani's Harajuku girls)
+ diving into the narrow inner lanes to discover hidden gems like a bright-red teapot-shaped watercan, and to unnerringly find ourselves in what seemed be Tokyo's answer to the Mission...there be hipsters here :)
+ enjoying snacks at the cute cafe that served my tea with a tiny hour glass -- so I would know exactly when to remove the tea bag!
Our visit was way too short to get anything but a taste of Tokyo, but I definitely want to get back someday -- hopefully next time for more than a day!

Have any of you been to Japan? What were your favorite places to visit?

xo Diana
Topics: travels
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