Sometimes when travelling, I often only have a day or two to explore properly. I like spending one day doing all the usual touristy things but always find this leaves me completely exhausted so I usually use my other day to find time for some R&R.
Tokyo didn’t prove too taxing at all. People were so kind; the sushi was delicious and the February weather was ideal for seeing this beautiful city.
My first stop had to be Sensoji Temple – arguably the most famous temple in the city and for that reason it was tourist soup. Having said that, it still held a certain magic especially after passing the gates and clearing busy Nakamise St.
I was lucky to have a guide who could give me the “how-to” before entering.
Thinking or praying at a shrine or temple is super special and it was important to me to do it properly. The lovely Yuka explained that I had to:
- Pass through the gate and mentally take note that I was now walking on Holy Ground.
- Wash my hands and mouth at the “temizuya” water pavilion. This is to purify my mind and body before standing in front of a Deity.
- At the altar of a shrine or temple you should donate a coin or “saisen”, bow and clap twice to express joy at meeting the Deity, before speaking your prayer or well wish. Finish with a bow.
To see people from every corner of the planet stop and hope for better made it all the more special. Throughout the day I noticed even noisy little children become quieter here as they felt the energy change.
Below is a picture of a Torii gate at the Meiji Shrine – a shrine dedicated to the spirits of Emperor Meiji.
My final destination whilst looking for zen was Shinjinku Gyoen National Park. This is a huge park dating from the Edo period with lots to see and lots of tea houses to stop and have a drink at.
Being in Tokyo I naturally chose Matcha and it felt like a mini mediation to me whilst I sipped, paused and took in the stunning scenery. I took a mental note to begin incorporating more Matcha into my UK diet especially once I felt how energised it made me throughout the afternoon. Winter was coming to an end and I felt the fresh energy of spring as I caught a peek of the first blossoms.
Arigatou Tokyo – I will definitely be back!
Not the most relaxing Tokyo spots but definitely fun 😉
Nakamise St – my favourite place to buy souvenirs and have a nosy at lots of lively stalls. Like anywhere renowned for souvenirs, you’ll have to sort through the tat to find the good but to me that’s half the fun!
Shibuya crossing- it does feel a bit like a movie moment until you realise you’re about to be mowed down if you don’t keep walking.
Walking from Shibuya crossing to Harajuku – just to see Tokyo at its craziest, most fun self. Expect 2ft candyfloss, multicoloured wigs and as close to real life Anime as you’re likely to see. Make sure you visit the 100 Yen store whilst you’re there.
The Yurakucho restaurants under the train tracks were so interesting and the best stop for sushi and a more lively atmosphere. Head here after work or in the evening to see it at its best.
Three bits of navigational advice:
Even though I’ve lived in London at different stages throughout my life, the metro system still seemed a wee bit daunting at first glance. Have a look at my tips below:
- Hold on to your your metro ticket as it is possibly the smallest, flimsiest tube ticket known to man.
- Pay attention to the station names and exits particularly if Japanese isn’t your strong point– there are a couple of stops with only a couple of letters difference.
- Remember people have manners here – lovely, lovely manners!!! So queuing for the metro is normal. Yes – it’s true that you might be so sardined into the train compartment that you’re literally in someone’s armpit but at least you queued to get there!
I’ll return to explore:
- Kyoto – top of my list. Geisha, temples and shrines galore- heaven!
- Mount Fujii– not that I’m the best with snowy peaks but I would embrace it for those views.
- Just to eat wayyyyy more Sushi and Udon noodles.
Once again, thank you Tokyo!