Japan Trip 2023 – Day Two

May 5th

Children’s Day Public Holiday

Not too bad a night’s sleep, considering.

Nothing is open till eleven, if at all, given the holiday. Plan is to make a leisurely walk to the Meiji Shrine and see what unfolds for the day.

Will attempt the use of offline maps to save on data roaming. I see this more as an experiment than an actual viable plan.

Made it to the shrine using the offline maps, though it did mean negotiating through some seedy Shibuya back streets punctuated by love hotels, strip clubs and wasted individuals sleeping on the foot paths.

You can always tell you are getting close to a major attraction by the rise in gaijin numbers.

Currently sitting drinking coffee watching the leaves fall around the giant torii entrance.

As an aside, one of the Lawsons close to the hotel looks like it has vegan options, but the only way to tell would be to turn on data roaming to use Google translate.

Back from the shrine and in the hotel, mid afternoon; hot and tired.

Navigating back and trying to find somewhere to eat was less simple than it might have been. I did find a vegan optioned café on the way from the hotel, but could not find it on the way back, no matter how much I wandered the same streets over and over again. Everywhere was so crowded, I doubt I could have got in anyway.

I think if I had to choose a place I would most not want to live outside of a war zone, Shibuya would be one of the top ones. It is quintessentially all I hate about Tokyo.

The Meiji Shrine and gardens was interesting to visit again after thirty years, I think many of the same people are still there, along with their children and grandchildren.

Was a worthwhile venture, if only as a component of the tripart Jingu shrines of the Tokyo area that are part of my current pilgrimage. The crow calls and occasional actual crow was nice.

Gave up on avoiding data roaming so I could find something edible in a kombini. Ended up with lettuce and seaweed salad with natto sushi and Sapporo beer.

Seems something of a waste to be sitting in my hotel with so much of the day remaining, but there is little Shibuya has to offer me. I came to visit the Meiji Shrine, which I have done.

I don’t even particularly like emperors, and emperor worship even less.

On Tanwyn’s first Japan trip, we once described walking into a late night kombini in Toyota as akin to stepping into a colour television. Shibuya is that writ large.

For now I will just relax in air conditioning, rest my legs and have my first Japanese beer of the trip.

Some hours later and am mentally and emotionally struggling to deal with Tokyo. This place is anathema to my view of Life. Even the green spaces, the parks and shrines are full of noise and obligation, from the tourists to the wedding ceremonies, to the tiny children’s baseball games. There is no where to breathe here, no where to just be. It is, for me, a trigger for claustrophobia and anxiety.

Texting with Tanwyn, making a meaningful connection with a meaningful person has helped. As has really bad kombini sake, Leonard Cohen and a bath.

Tomorrow Narita.


Kai Cho

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