Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The Perfect Sunday Outing in Tokyo: Meiji Shrine and A to Z Cafe

 Entering the shrine.

Last week, my dear friend Emily came from the States for a visit. On her first day here, we headed down to the Harajuku-Omotesando area of Tokyo for what may be my perfect Tokyo outing: the Meiji Shrine and A to Z Cafe. We exited Harajuku Station with all the cool kids and hit up the shrine first- perfectly beautiful, verdant, and calm, despite the throngs of Sunday tourists. 

Shrine gate.

The Meiji Shrine is where Emperor Meiji (r. 1868-1912) is enshrined. It is also a huge shrine in the middle of Tokyo, includes two museums dedicated to Emperor Meiji, and is a large green space, making it a popular site with a variety of visitors. As it relates to the Imperial, and is a lovely natural escape from the concrete expanses of Tokyo, it is one of my favorite spots in the city.

 A small waterfall along the path.


 Sake barrels as donated by breweries.

 Little dude exhibiting proper ritual behavior at the shrine.

 Little dude goofing around (e.g., not exhibiting proper ritual behavior).

 The main area of the shrine.

 We saw a wedding!

 Shrine doors.

 On our way out.

After a bit of walking through Harajuku, and a quick lunch stop, we headed over to the Omotesando area, one subway stop away. If it had not been raining, and us not in the company of a tired-of-walking kiddo, the stretch between the shrine and Omotesando is a nice 15-20 minute stroll along streets filled with beautiful high end retail- in some ways a museum of contemporary material culture combined with the adjacent Harajuku fashion (read: youthful hip). Ultimately, our destination in Omotesando was the A to Z Cafe, which is a project of the artist Yoshitomo Nara.


 Sparkling wine and pumpkin coconut cake. Dreamy.

 Artist kid in a cafe created by an artist who addresses kids. Woah.

Yoshitomo Nara, long a favorite of mine, creates work that has a certain child-like quality to it. While many of his artworks are somewhat disturbing, others focus on the emotions of childhood, and the childhood experience. So, it was completely appropriate that little dude went straight for his blank-page book with his crayons. 

Lighting by the cafe entrance.

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