Place to stop for sword enthusiasts, but for people not intested it is a bit out of the way to find.
When I was there, there were about 100 swords on display, the information about the place boasted about more but I didn't find them. There was a part that appeared to be closed off, which might have had more on another floor or wing of the place, but couldn't get there at the time. However, there is a lot of well preserved Japanease weapons, a few rusted old ones but everything is in good condition and well taken care of.
Indulge your sweet tooth and head to one of the crepe kiosks on Takeshita-Dori, Harajuku. There are several dotted along the street and serve crepes with as many different fillings as you can imagine, mostly sweet but there are some savoury options there. You can even have a slice of cheesecake in your crepe if you want!
I opted for a strawberry crepe but when I asked the woman in the kiosk for a strawberry crepe she produced a laminated picture menu and pointed to all the strawberry crepes on offer (at least 5 different varieties!). I picked a strawberries and cream one which was delicious!
Gwen Stefani loves 'em!
To quote wikipedia- "The term "Harajuku Girls" has been used by English-language media to describe teenagers dressed in any fashion style who are in the area of Harajuku"
Harajuku is where you are likely to find the trendy and insanely dressed people of Tokyo. They all come out to play on a Sunday but we still spotted a few kooky girls on Takeshita Street on a midweek afternoon.
Ok go and visit all the parks listed in the "Things to Do" tips. But give yourself some time to just wander aimlessly.
One day I wandered into a park, expecting the madness to have spilled into the gardens, fountain areas and walkways. But all was quiet except for a few elderly ladies strolling slowly past. Perhaps I was there at the wrong time, maybe in the evenings it would be invaded by a younger crowd. I picked a path enjoying the peacefulnes. I started to notice, hidden in the trees, many cardboard boxes arranged neatly. I stopped and took a quicker look. Most of them had been covered in blue plastic sheets. I quickly realized that these were homes. I walked further down the path and came to an area where I could get closer. The box homes were elaborate, with furniture, beds, and cooking areas. Outside were more sitting areas and hanging clothing to dry. I had found Tokyo’s homeless community, living in furnished cardboard boxes, protected from the rain by a sheet of plastic. I was later to learn, that many of them lead full and constructive lives with jobs. But the shame of being homeless was deep, and often prevented them from turning to anyone for help, friends and family included. I also learned that this community had been living in the tunnels at Shinjuku station, but had been thrown out by the police.
I will admit ignorance about Japan’s social system, but the few hints given to me by friends suggests that it is non-existent. I have an impression that ‘culturally’ to require social assistance is a terrible shame. For example, there is absolutely no street pandering in the city. I was never once asked for money, or to make a donation for any cause. I would even go so far as to say such concepts are foreign in Japan. Someone asking for money may even embarrass Japanese. I wonder if I am correct?
HANABI festivals...... Japanese summers never be completed without seeing one of them! Never!!!
The great festivals are... (by number of fireworks that set off)
1. Sumida River Hanabi Festival (20,000)
2. Edogawa-ku Hanabi Festival /w Ichikawa-shi citizen Hanabi Festival (14,000)
3. Adachi's Hanabi Festival (12,000)
4. Tokyo Bay Grand Hanabi Festival (12,000)
5. Katsushika Cool-breeze Hanabi Festival (11,000)
The beginning of May is the time the beautiful azaleas at full bloom all over Tokyo. The Nedujinja shrine maintains an especially imposing collection of these charming bushes which can be admired from up-close for a small maintenance fee of 200yen. Walk along Shinobazu Street toward Sendagi, and turn left on Tsutsuji Street
If you are in Tokyo in April, you have to go a bit off the beaten tourist track and visit the Nezu Shrine. Not only is it a beautiful religious complex -- one of the few that survived World War II -- but it boasts firy azaleas of all different colors. Azaleas only bloom for a couple of weeks each spring, so you have to go in late April if you're going to see them. but it's worth the trip.
Ridley Scott's definitive cult movie `Blade runner' which featured Harrison Ford, was shot in these narrow Tokyo Shinjuku/Shibuya alleys... one of its opening scenes was shot here. As a result, the area has become popular with sci-fi fans and general movie buffs alike
At Japanese shrines you will constantly find walls full of little wooden plates and strings full of paper loops. They are called ema and omikuji respectively.
Ema can be purchased mostly in front of these walls. If you have a wish you write it on the back of it in whatever language and than attach it to the wall.
The little papers called omikuji are a kind of oracle you make a donation and then draw a paper. Sometimes you have to use a box with sticks in it with a hole on the bottom and the stick that comes out, tells you a number und you have to get a paper from the according draw. These papers tell you whether you have bad, normal, good or excellent luck. In order to strengthen the positive prediciton or for the bad prediction to not come true it is looped around the strings.
In Tokyo there is now a system of tours by volunteer guides. Cost varies from free to Y1000 to Y2000.
As of 1/2005, there are five tours available which take 2-3 hours. Languages available are English, Korean, Chinese, German, French, Italian or Spanish.
Just next to Tokyo`s famed Yoyogi Park, you will come to a little concrete plaza, bordered on one side by the weirdly soaring form of the National Gymnasium (based on a samurai helmet and considered an architectural masterpiece) and the NHK TV studio.
Although guided tours of the studio are available, the real attraction here is the street performers - young people flock to sing, dance, and perform standup comedy and theatre in the hope that they will be "discovered" by the star-makers who work in the studios nearby.
Unfortunately though, most of the performers are pitifully untalented, making a walk down this boulevard of broken dreams both hilarious and a little sad.
On weekends, teenagers flock to the street to see the free entertainment (and laugh at the very worst performers). There are frequent festivals and events in the plaza area - everything form Thai foodfairs to hip hop concerts - as well as a biweekly flea market. And Shibuya is just a short stroll down the hill, walking past the NHK studios and away from the park, making it easy to stop by on walking tour of Shibuya,Harajuku and Yoyogi Park.
See "Yoyogi Park" for more street culture.
Well, wondering what statues are these.
Due to the high abortion in JPN, these are represent the little baby who passed away in JPN. You will find them right behind the temples or ji.
DO NOT wake them UP !!
To understand how the younger generation of Japanese are out to forge their own individuality, you must go to harajuku during the weekends.
They will hang around the area decked in costumes that scream to shock. You will also get to enjoy street performances by these stars wanabe.
Nowadays the authorities are trying to control so there are signs set up around the area to prohibit such activities but nevertheless you will still catch a glimpse of these youths.
If you are into dressing yourself up as well, there are a few shops in the Harajuku area which sells these fancy costumes but be prepared to deck out quite a bit for them!
"Taiko" is the traditional japanese drums performance. I had the chance to go to such a performance by one of the most famous Taiko groups in Japan.
I really enjoyed the powerful rythm and the amazing coordination and technique of the drummers. If you have the chance of going to a Taiko performance don't miss it. It's just amazing.
In august during every weekend all over Japan there are fireworks combetitions/demonstrations called Hanabi. And Japanese really know how to do really impressive fireworks. Probably they are the best in the world.
I happen to live just next to an amuzement park that does Hanabi and it's marvellous.