Japan March 2004

Japan 2004 Day 4: Shinjuku, Harajuku, Shibuya, and Daiba

Sunday March 14, 2004

Today Jonathan met us at our hotel lobby in the morning and we headed off into the city. Our first stop was a little café to get some breakfast and hot chocolate and plan out what we wanted to do with the precious time we had left with him. First order of business was to get our Tokyo Disney Resort tickets for the next four days. There is a TDR ticket office in Tokyo, and as it turns out, was right next to a statue of Godzilla near the ToHo studios.

It was only a short subway ride from our café to get to the ticket office and we made it in no time. As we were taking photos of the statue and ourselves, an elderly Japanese woman approached Jonathan and started talking to him in Japanese. Daniel and I exchanged puzzled looks, and as the woman left, Jonathan filled us in to what she was saying. It turns out that she was in the café back near our hotel and overheard us saying that we were trying to find the Godzilla statue. She had followed us from the café to make sure that we found the statue with no difficulties. I was floored! What a great thing for a complete stranger to do for some fish out of water tourists!

Josh with the Godzilla Statue
Time to get tickets to Tokyo Disney Resort!!

It was a short walk over to the TDR ticket office and Daniel and I loaded up on our 4-Day Park Hopper passes for the next few days. We were so excited, but we had to get back on the road to see the sights. First up was Shinjuku, home to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government buildings and some of the tallest buildings in Tokyo. We went up to the observation deck and were treated to some great views of Tokyo. Up there, you really get a sense of just how sprawling an area Tokyo really is. Of course, Mt. Fuji was nowhere to be seen, but they assure us that it is off in the haze just waiting to be seen some day.

Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building in Shinjuku
Looking over Tokyo from the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building

From there, we went to our next stop on the Subway line – Harajuku. Harajuku is home to the Japan youth who on Sundays enjoy cosplay around the Jingu Bridge that connects Harajuku to the Meji Shrine. Daniel was really looking forward to taking photos of the cosplayers and he was able to get some good photos taken while he was admiring them. I had to use the facilities, so Jonathan and I left Daniel back at the bridge and set off to find one in the Meji Shrine area. It was just a short walk, but since I was at the temple, I decided to take some quick photos of the shrine area before we hustled it back to Daniel.

Inside the Meji Shrine
Cosplayers in Harajuku

Daniel was a bit worried about us, but we were soon reunited and headed towards the Takeshita Street, one of the main shopping streets of Harajuku. This street reminded me of Berkeley and Melrose type area as opposed to Omotesando St which featured more high end shopping.We did some window shopping and wandered a bit before running into some St. Patrick’s Day festival. Not really sure of what was going on, but there was lots of green and shamrocks so that’s the conclusion we came up with before moving to our next destination.

Since we were already blocks from Harajuku station, we decided to just keep walking down to the Shibuya area. After a photo of Jonathan at a billboard (which I cannot find, so I assume he has it on his camera), we arrived at the statue of Hachiko at Shibuya station. The statue commemorates Hachiko who waited for his master at the station years after his owner had died and is a celebrity in Japan. The statue is also one of the most popular meeting areas for people trying to find each other. After some photos, we set to cross the famous Shibuya crossing. More than 1 million people use this crossing each day. Despite the business, we were able to get a good shot of me crossing the street in a sea of people.

We then explored the many shopping areas around Shibuya including one of my favorites, The Loft. Jonathan finally had to leave to get ready to head back to his part of Japan. We were sad to see him go as he was indispensable during our first few days in Japan. After he left, Daniel and I decided to head to Odaiba to the Fuji TV headquarters and the big Megaweb Toyota area. After taking the subway there, we then transferred to the Yurikamome elevated train which was an automated train. Arriving, we headed to Fuji TV to see if there was a tour we could take. We ended up wandering around some exhibits at the top of the building before headed down into the Decks Tokyo Beach shopping mall.

Crossing Rainbow Bridge heading to Daiba
Fuji TV Headquarters next to Aqua City Daiba

Daniel and I decided to attempt to order a plain hamburger in Japanese – always a fun thing. Fortunately, McDonald’s in Japan feature pictographs so you can point to what you want and then explain you want it plain. We were surprisingly successful in our ordering and the food was not that bad!

Replica Statue of Liberty
Rainbow Bridge with Tokyo Tower in the background as seen from near the Statue of Liberty

Touring around the area, we visited a replica Statue of Liberty and wandered around the complex before heading into MegaWeb. I was floored by the massive amounts of Toyota products including automated machines which brought your selected vehicle down from a shelf to right in front of you. There was also a testing facility where you could test drive the latest from Toyota. Unfortunately, you needed to have a valid International Driver’s License so we were ineligible. Another thing we were unable to do was the automated car system that took passengers in cars around the facility. The line was way too long and it was getting late.

Toyota MEGAWeb

Our last stop was Tokyo Leisure Land – home to a ton of video games and photo booths. We decided to get some snack ice cream before calling it a day and heading back to our hotel. It was another long day, but Daniel and I were excited about our next adventure at Tokyo Disney Resort!