Tokyo: Meiji-Jingu

We had another hotel transfer this morning, so we left our bags, checked out, and walked over to Shibuya for breakfast. We had a quick bite at Jean-Francois cafe in the station, with coffee, quiche and a standout pastry made with cubes of croissant dough, cinnamon, and lots of walnuts, baked in a muffin pan (something like this). We picked up our bags and took the subway to our next hotel near Gotanda Station and got checked in. We had some time to fill before meeting up with our family, and we took this chance to visit Meiji-Jingu.

Meiji-Jingu was built in 1920 to honor Emperor Meiji and his consort, Empress Shoken. The shrine is set well into the lovely, wooded Yoyogi Park. At either of the two main entrances, you pass through a 40-foot-high torii gate and then walk along a path through cedar trees to get to the shrine buildings. Athough this is one of the most popular attractions in Tokyo, this approach still manages to be quiet and fairly peaceful. Meiji-Jingu is also a popular place for weddings, and we had the chance to see a wedding procession while we were there. 

We weren’t able to linger for too long, because we were due to meet Dan’s brother and our niece back at Shibuya for lunch. I was tickled to have our Japanese host compliment my chopstick technique at that meal. After eating, we went over to the Shimo-kitazawa neighborhood to spend the afternoon and evening with them. We spent a little time at La Caña while Dan’s brother had his sound check, and then went out with him to wander the neighborhood while our niece explored on her own. It had a fun vibe, with lots of students, small funky shops, and used clothing stores. We paused for coffee in a cute, owl-themed cafe called Hou Hou. The three of us squeezed into a tiny loft near the front door, and watched clips from Studio Ghibli movies while we sipped our drinks.

We got mildly lost on our way back to the club, but found our way and met up with our niece there. As we were heading out, we ran into the friends we’d had dinner with, who were on their way in to see the show. We took our neice out for dinner nearby, settling on a casual yakitori shop. It was pretty full, so we ate at the bar outside, ordering and receiving our food through the sliding windows. It was fun to watch the yakitori being cooked over big charcoal logs in simple countertop grates. The stars of the meal were the crispy rice balls, and the grilled ginkgo beans, which were not as bitter as others I’ve tried. We washed it all down with refreshing shochu and grapefruit cocktails.

We met back up with Dan’s brother and hung out at the club for a little while while he and the staff enjoyed some post-show Chinese food. We all shared a cab back to our hotels, since we thought we were booked in adjacent ones. After a bit of confusion, we learned that there are two MyStays hotels with the same name on opposite sides of Gotanda Station. After a short walk to the other side of the station we found the one that had our booking and went to bed.