We started the day right where we left off – 3 Yamanote line stops up from our hotel in Harajuku. The area is a lot more lively during the day since it is mostly for shopping and closes down by 8pm.
The Feel Harajuku – 原宿
On the walk over we passed by all the typical high end clothing stores you would imagine. Each with their own intricately designed buildings to draw attention. Walking the main streets you might think this is all there is the Harajuku.
We were on a mission to meet up Koichi, one of Marilyn’s coworkers from Booking.com. We found their location above an Armani Cafe (Armani has cafes?) and got a quick tour of their office. Not a bad location, and on a clear day you could see Mt. Fuji.
We grabbed lunch – a Tonkatsu place close by. Throughout the trip we confused Tonkatsu (breaded, fried pork cutlet) and Tonkotsu (a cloudy, ramen broth). The Tonkatsu was served with a bed of cabbage, which seemed like an odd pairing. The spicy mustard that came with it, along with barbecue sause and curry made for a warm and hearty lunch.
When we pressed the group for things to do in Harajuku a few suggestions came out: try a crêpe, see Yogogi Park and visit the Meiji Shrine. All were within walking distance, so we set out for them next.
Yoyogi Park & Meiji Shrine – 代々木公園
Yoyogi Park is a huge park that skirts the Harajuku district all the way up to Shinjuku. When you enter it off the main area, there are very large set paths to walk, and no cars allowed. The park is known for it’s interesting fashion scene which hangs out on the bridge from Harajuku on sundays.
We walked up some side streets to the park and shrine itself, entering through the north entrance. The Meiji Shrine resides on that side of the park, and was built in the 1920s – a full millennium after some of the other shrines we visited.
The shrine itself was less visually amazing than others like Fushimi Inari or Kasuga Taisha, but stands in stark contrast to the surrounding city. The shrine itself was much more open than others we’d visited, and could no doubt support the large population of Tokyo that visits.
Park Hyatt Hotel
We realized we were within walking distance of the Park Hyatt Tokyo, the hotel made famous in Lost In Translation. Having seen that movie more times than I can count, this was a good chance to see the amazing view in person.
Finding it was a little odd. The lobby for it is actually on the 37th floor of the Shinjuku Park Tower building, and takes up the top 14 floors. The top floor is the New York Bar & Grill – the hotel bar used in the movie. After 8pm this bar charges a $20 cover. We stopped by before sunset and were able to enjoy a cocktail before then. I ordered a cocktail with a sake base, optimistic they might do something interesting with it. Unfortunately what came out was a tiny, weak pink drink which I could have finished in a single sip. Marilyn’s was much better, but the $18 drinks prices are justified by the view more than the taste.
The walk from Harajuku to Yoyogi park to the Park Hyatt was longer than we expected. By the time we arrived, we were on our last legs. To conserve the energy we grabbed a taxi back to our hotel. We had plans to explore Ueno park and Akihabara the next day and wanted to be ready!