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Published: April 23rd 2018
Hello my fellow travellers!
This morning I said my goodbyes to Ryosuke and thanked him for his kind hospitality, I've had an absolute blast the two evenings that I've spent with him. Since he'll be busy for tonight I'll instead stay my last night in Tokyo with a German guy, Christian, who lives in Minato. That will actually be very convenient for me since that's the part of Tokyo where I'll be spending tomorrow before I go to Shizuoka.
Anyway, for today I began by going to Shibuya, primarily to visit Meiji Jingū
, but also to see the area in general as it's a very famous part of Tokyo. As I came to Shibuya Eki
I found myself in one of the busiest transport hub in the world with an average of 2.4 million travellers every day, far removed my own quiet little part of the world. Yet I found that it flows remarkably well despite it's massive numbers, the efficiency of the systems here in Japan will probably never cease to amaze me. The three busiest transport hubs that beat out Shibuya are also located in Japan with Shinjuku Eki
being the busiest one with 3.64 million passengers
As I left the station I was greeted by the statue of Hachikō, the famous Akita dog who has become a symbol of loyalty and friendship not only in Japan but across the world. I believe most people in the west probably knows this story from the movie Hachi: A Dog's Tale
with Richard Gere. Though the story has been moved to America and a different time period it still lays out what happened. Hachikō was born in 1923 on a farm in Akita Prefecture and the next year he came to live with Ueno Hidesaburō here in Shibuya.
Ueno Hidesaburō was a professor in agriculture and would commute to work from Shibuya Eki
and everyday as he returned from work Hachikō would leave their house and come and meet him as he arrived at the station. However, on May 21 1925 Ueno Hidesaburō didn't return to the station, he had tragically suffered a cerebral haemorrhage and died during a lecture. Hachikō however kept returning to greet his owner for every day at the same time for the next nine years, nine months and 15 days.
One of Ueno Hidesaburō's students found out about Hachikō and
published a series of articles about him and about the Akita breed of dogs, one of these articles which was published in Asahi Shimbun
in 1932 turned Hachikō into a national icon and made people come from far to give him food and water and aid him in his wait. By this time there were only 30 purebred Akita dogs in all of Japan including Hachikō but it became a very popular breed after this.
The original statue of him was unveiled in April 1934 and Hachikō himself was present at the unveiling, unfortunately the original statue was recycled during World War II, the current statue was erected in 1948 and the exit closest to it have been named Hachikō Guchi
, Hachikō exit.
Hachikō passed away of cancer March 8 1935 and he was cremated and buried next to Ueno Hidesaburō in the cemetery Aoyama Reien
where they can now rest together forever. Every year of March 8 there is a ceremony held here in remembrance of him, I'm sorry I missed it by a week this year. Last year Hachikō and Ueno Hidesaburō was also reunited in a statue which depicts their love for each other. The
statue stands at Tōkyō Daigaku
, the university where Ueno Hidesaburō was a teacher.
Another person that deserves mentioning in this story is Sakano Yaeko, she was the unmarried partner of Ueno Hidesaburō and because of that she was also very beloved by Hachikō and the feeling was mutual, after she passed away in 1961 she was buried in the same cemetery but away from her beloved ones due to them being unmarried. However a petition was started to have her reburied together with them and it seems like it will finally come to pass in May this year, finally the whole family will rest together after such a long time.
Next up I came to Shibuya Sukuranburu Kōsaten
, the famous pedestrian crossing that closes traffic in all directions as hundreds of people cross from all over at the same time, it is chaotic yet amazing, definitely something to experience. Close to the crossing is also an interesting statue of children playing on the earth, I couldn't find the name of the statue though.
Since I was getting hungry I decided to go into a small local restaurant, once again ordering through a machine and then taking my
seat in a small one person booth that was lined up one after another in the restaurant. The noodles was as delicious as always here, man I'll easily gain 10 pounds on this trip with all the delicious food I keep finding here.
With some food in my belly I then set out to reach Yoyogi Kōen
, the large park that Meiji Jingū
is located within. Meiji Jingū
was built between 1915 and 1926 and is dedicated to Emperor Meiji and his wife Empress Shōken to commemorate his role in the Meiji Restoration when Japan became a modern nation following the Bakumatsu
. He isn't buried here though, his tomb is located in Kyoto and I plan to visit it, and I will probably dive deeper into his life at that time. This location was chosen for the shrine because it's a place which the couple enjoyed frequenting and it's easy to see why as it's very beautiful and tranquil despite being located in the middle of such a busy neighbourhood.
One really fascinating part of the life of Emperor Meiji was that he demonstrated, already at his coronation, that he was determined to turn Japan into a modern
society and remove the old feudal system that had been in place for such a long time. This is immortalised in the Charter Oath, called Gokajō no Goseimon
in Japanese, it's an oath of five articles written by him for the coronation and which is considered to be the first constitution of Japan, I will include a photo of the oath so you can read it for yourself, but it was very progressive for Japan of the day, completely abolishing the feudal system.
Unfortunately, like so many other buildings in Tokyo, it was destroyed during the bomb raids of World War II and was rebuilt in 1958 but it doesn't diminish it's beauty. the entire park and temple complex is such a haven of serenity and I highly enjoyed walking around here. A beautiful sight here is the Ōtorii
, the largest wooden torii
in Japan.which is built by 1,500 year old hinoki
trees, it is truly splendid as is the entire area. If you are in Tokyo this is certainly a place to visit.
After my visit to Meiji Jingū
I set out for a more modern sight, the Tōkyōto Chōsha
, more commonly known as the Tokyo Metropolitan
Government Building. It's located in the famous Shinjuku ward of Tokyo and it's a good spot to go to since it contains observation decks that offer a good view of Tokyo free of charge. While I was up there I chatted for a while with a really nice elderly man in the staff and it was an enjoyable experiences, although the reflections from the glass spoiled the pictures a bit.
Next I had to brave the ocean of people of Shinjuku Eki
, the busiest hub in the world, beating Shibuya Eki
by another million passengers or so every day. I got a bit lost in there but a lovely lady guided me to the right spot so that I was able to get to the next ward of Tokyo that I was visiting today, Bunkyō. It's located quite close to Chiyoda were I went yesterday, I'm also returning there as well to visit Kanda Jinja
The reason that I went by Bunkyō though was to visit the Confucian temple of Yushima Seidō
. It's actually just a short walk from there to Kanda Jinja
even though they are in different wards. Yushima Seidō
was originally built in 1630 but
it was moved to it's present location by Tokugawa Tsunayoshi, the fifth shōgun
, as the Kansai Edict made neo-Confucianism the official philosophy of Japan and this temple was turned into a training centre for the bureaucrats of the Tokugawa Bakufu
. It was closed down in 1871, following the Meiji Restoration, but during it's time it produced many great men. Today it's a popular place for students to pray for success on their exams.
From Yushima Seidō
I walked over to Kanda Jinja
which is a very famous shrine that hosts one of the largest festivals in Tokyo every year, Kanda Matsuri
which was started by Tokugawa Ieyasu in 1600 to celebrate his victory in the Battle of Sekigahara. Since Kanda Jinja
is located near Akihabara it has become specialised in selling omamori
, a form of portable protective charm, with the intent of blessing electronic devices and many of the ema
, a votive tablet with an inscribed prayer on it, have anime motifs.
One thing that is interesting about this shrine is that it enshrines not only the two kami Ōkuninushi
but also Taira no Masakado, a samurai who fought against the Emperor in the Heian period.
He ultimate lost and was killed in the Battle of Kojima in 940 but not until after he had captured three provinces and declared himself shinnō
, new emperor. He is regarded as the first ever samurai. After he was killed his head was brought to a place close to this shrine and was buried there and to ease his raging soul which caused havoc and natural disasters he was enshrined here and is considered a demigod now. It's that even Tokugawa Ieyasu himself moved this shrine because he feared the powerful spirit of Taira no Masakado.
With that I started to get hungry so I made my way into a restaurant to once again indulge in a delicious bowl of noodles, I'm fast becoming addicted to the many varieties of noodles that are readily available here, they are all cheap, delicious and filling, the perfect trinity!
After I ate my fill I figured it was time to get to my last goal of the day, Akihabara, it's the name for the area surrounding Akihabara Eki
and is located within both Taito and Chiyoda, just a few minutes walk from Kanda Jinja
If you like Japanese anime you
will probably be quite knowledgeable about Akihabara as it's a famous anime and otaku
pretty much means someone who has an obsessive interest in something, and that is often the case when it comes to anime and manga lovers. I must admit to loving anime myself, though I'm not quite at an otaku
level, to be honest I mostly went here to see what the general feel of the place was like and to take some photos to show my friend who also loves anime.
On my way over to Akihabara I came across a lovely group of people with an Akita dog, the same breed as Hachikō and I spent some time chatting with them and cuddling with the dog before I continued on my way. Walking around in Akihabara was very nice and I spent the rest of the evening doing that until it was getting dark and the time was approaching to make my way over to Minato to meet up with Christian.
As I arrived at his place he sent me a text with the code to enter so I went up and his apartment was amazing with a gorgeous view of
Tokyo. He had another international friend over who's also working in Japan. After I took a shower the three of us spent the evening drinking beer and wine, listening to music and discussing life in Japan, it was a perfect way to wind down after a full day of traversing the various districts of Tokyo.
Tomorrow I will visit two famous temples here in Minato, Sengaku-ji
that I mentioned a few days ago as well as Zōjō-ji
, a temple that just as Kan'ei-ji
houses the tombs of six Tokugawa shōgun
. After that I will head to Kawasaki where I will visit a cemetery called Shunjuen
, this is where my favourite actor Toshiro Mifune is buried. After I've paid my respects to him I will go to Shizuoka to meet up with Junko whom I met last year. I will be staying with her and her granddaughter and one of her students, Takae, for about a week and I look forward to it a lot.
Until tomorrow I wish you all peace and happy travels!
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