Tokyo: Japan day 2

It was a blur, really. It was also very hot.

We were in Shibuya and Shinjuku that day – in the morn we ate these really fluffy pancakes (reminded me of angel food cake, but better) and I had my first order of roasted green milk tea, which was less sweet compared to what you’d get in the States, which I found to be just right.

I made the mistake of wearing medium heels as part of my full-Uniqlo outfit (my luggage was still in Montreal, so I bought everything I needed from Uniqlo). Was the three blisters worth being a pretend Uniqlo poster child for 4 hours? Maybe. (no)

Thankfully, Shibuya is known for its stores, so we located a Birkenstocks and I got a pair of their classic sandals with nice off-white cream colored leather straps. With feet now happy, we roamed. We got these footlong fries that needed two hands to eat and observed school children eating these corndog-esque-but-actually-mozzarella-sticks-covered-in-potato-chunks snacks.

Afterwards we headed over to a towering forest that dulled all the neighboring sounds of city. The trees were grand and ancient and imposing. Every so often there would be a large torii gate marking the threshold into another state of mind. Along this winding path between the trees we walked with hundreds of others, pausing to look at timeworn sake barrels and gazing up through the almost canopy into the blue sky.

At the end of this path we saw our first shrine. I was taught how to do the hand-washing ritual and the meaning of the prayers before the shrine by my friend VP, who was the MVP of the trip.

We leave the area by foot, walking to a traditional Japanese garden. We’ve been walking for most of the day, but sights of the locals enjoying the garden and the calm scenic views was refreshing. We then hurry to the famous Kimi No Na Wa staircase where couples were posing and took some individual shots. I haven’t watched the movie in years, but at least from memory the view is very similar to the scene in the movie, albeit with duller colors and a grittier feel.

In the later afternoon we go to an intimate tea experience. Our tea guy apparently has been doing tea for 16 years upon asking. We taste and smell tea, some of which were paired with Japanese desserts or sides like pickles. I liked how we got to taste the same tea multiple times at different strengths and see how it changed. I liked the tea best after the first pour – the first pour tended to be too strong for my liking.

It was also fascinating to see how precise their movements were with handling and pouring the tea. Everything felt trained and perfected to the utmost degree. Nothing was hurried, and everything was intentional. I felt inspired by watching these masters of their craft.

After our quiet and thoughtful tea afternoon, we participate and then watch the Shibuya scramble crossing. Seeing so many people intersect each other at the same time was very cool, in part because of the partial optical illusion created by the white blouses in front and the black backpacks in back that gave the impression of shifting blinds. At this point our legs are super dead and we are hungry, so we get meat skewer snacks. We then shop around Loft and Muji.

I’ve read about Loft online as I’m into stationery and pens at a casual level, and I was not disappointed. Pen brands I’ve never seen before with sample paper to scrawl on were everywhere. There was a small corner of Copics, and there were endless amounts of notebooks and trinkets and washi tape. It was beautiful.

The Muji next door was more interior-focused, and I ended up chilling on their amazingly micro-plush-something-godly beanbags to rest my legs with my friend. We stayed there in bliss until the store closed.

We wrapped up our evening with ramen at Ichiran, which I’ve seen on Instagram before as it has its private booth dividers for every individual that wants one. It was a more focused meal experience than usual, though I’ll admit I was too tired to enjoy it properly, and it was really salty. Aesthetics were definitely on point though. Also the ordering process was via a colorful machine with pictures of what you could add to your order, which was very fun.

Good stuff.

 

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