My first 24 hours in Japan
Flying into Japan was a whirl wind of skyscrapers, delicious food and thousands of people- a whole new reality.
We landed into Tokyo in the early hours of the morning. Planning in advance for once, we sent our luggage up to Hokkaido, our final destination, so we didn't have to haul it around the bustling city streets.
We set off, in search our hostel situated in the heart of Shinjuku.
Navigating through Shinjuku station, was a surreal experience. It was jam packed full of commuters hurrying to work. The organised queues were a refreshing buzz to the station, something quite far away from the London tube. The tube map, however, left us a little puzzled.
Leaving the busy station behind, we were stunned by our first view of Shinjuku. The tall buildings towered over us, sparkling in the sunshine, that was beaming through the clouds.
Determined to make the most of our first day, we set off in search of coffee and somewhere to drink it.
One of my favourite bits about Japan, is on every street corner there is a vending machine inviting you in for a hot or cold drink, or a can of Strong- what they are is for another day. I'm sure many of you will know the morning after feeling from them.
My favourite is the sugary black coffees, that give you the biggest coffee buzz after.
The first thing we wanted to do in this district was to visit a shrine. And what better shrine than the Meiji Shrine, in the heart of Tokyo. I had heard lots about this shrine, surrounded by gorgeous tree lined pathways and next to the famous Yoyogi Park.
We decided that walking from Shinjuku to the neighbouring Shibuya was the best option, some fresh air from the flight, to stretch our legs and take in the scenery.
If you want to head to the Meiji Shrine from Shinjuku, you can hop on the Tokyo metro and get off at Harajuku, which is close by to the entrance, if you don't fancy the walk.
When we arrived, we were met by the huge entrance, the Torii Gates. These gates, in a shinto shrine, signify you are walking into a sacred space, they draw the line between the two areas.
Walking through the Torii Gates, the sun began to stream through the trees and the wonderful peaceful energy invited us in further.
We wandered for about 10 minutes until we came to the main cluster of buildings of the Meiji Shrine.
We luckily arrived early, meaning less people and a peaceful time to explore. A courtyard opened up to reveal beautifully aged trees, places of wish writing and spaces to make offerings. We caught a beautiful procession of a traditional Shinto wedding leaving the courtyard, this was the moment it hit home that I was in Japan, surrounded by the most beautiful culture.
Exploring the shrine, we came to the space where people are invited to write an Ema. You purchase a wooden slate that you write your wishes on in hope they come true. From all over the world, people had written beautiful messages of hope, happiness and gratitude.
We spent most of the day wandering through the park, and eventually found our way to the centre of Shibuya. This gorgeous section of Tokyo, was filled full of thrift stores, Lawson's (my favourite Japanese convenience store) and extremely cool shops selling pieces of art in the form of food, clothing and jewellery.
At the end of Shibuya, you find yourself at one of the most famous tourist attractions in Tokyo, Scramble Crossing. This chaotic crossing, has people, cars, buses, all crossing at different times in a small intersection. From the thousands of people, to the long lines of tourists driving go karts dressed up as Super Mario characters, this place is a wonder of its own. A very different energy from the Meji Shrine.
I had to take the usual picture slap bang in the centre of the road, it was a quick click and run before the lights changed back to red and the floods of traffic returned.
We sat upstairs in Starbucks right outside the crossing, there is a great view of the whole of the crossing to enjoy while you sip on a coffee.
After a busy day, we retired back to Shinjuku to our hostel to relax, giggle about the crazy day and chat about our next day plans.
Hoping your all well and safe. Staying home right now is so important to keep us all safe and of course allow us to travel back to the most wonderful destinations such as Tokyo in the near future.