Another little moment from our Japan trip in December - the side of Harajuku you don't expect...

After an overnight flight and arriving in Tokyo at about lunch time, our first day in Japan was spent in a complete haze of jet lag and culture shock. It's amazing though how much a giant bowl of noodles helps!
The next morning, even after about 12 hours sleep, we were still a little bit blurry around the edges. Blurry, but also slightly giddy at the prospect of heading out into Tokyo's beautifully choreographed madness.


Armed with a train map, we took a deep breath and plunged headlong into the Tokyo underground like Alice down the rabbit hole, popping up a short while later at Harajuku's Meiji Jingu station. We made a beeline for Meiji Jingu Itself. An impressive Shinto shrine complex, built in 1920 (and rebuilt after being bombed during WW2), in memory of Emperor Meiji, who ended Japan's seclusion from the rest of the world. 

I don't have adequate words to explain exactly how massive the torii gates are.

I don't have adequate words to explain exactly how massive the torii gates are.

The approach to the shrine follows a broad, sweeping path, under torii gates constructed from towering cedar trees. Before getting very far in, despite the general bustle of visitors, the urban soundtrack was drowned out by a riot of bird calls. The shrine complex is surrounded by a sprawling man-made forest, each tree donated as a memorial by the Japanese public, creating a wonderful oasis in the beating heart of Tokyo. The perfect place on our first day to explore, soak up the very last of the Autumn colour and breathe in the Japaneseness of it all.

Images from the top: Last of the Autumn's Maple leaves,  Offerings of sake,  Inside the shrine complex looking out into the forest,  Prayers,  Beautiful sake packaging, The Japaneseness of it all...

 

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