We took the subway to Haranjuku station to see more fall colors and to enjoy more cool, but sunny weather.
Our destination was Yoyogi Park. When we exited the station we saw that we were right next to one of the other famous shrines, Meiji-jinju which is located in the area called Yoyogi. We’d been to this shrine five years before during the summer, so we decided to take a walk through to see what fall colors it might offer. Turns out, it was quite pretty—and it was filled with people. When we were there before in high summertime it was busy, and this Fall Wednesday afternoon at 3pm, it was still busy. There weren’t any weddings happening like last time, but it seemed to be ‘family-picture day’. We saw various young families posing with their kids for photos, with quite a few of the kids dressed in traditional Japanese garb. Little 3-foot-tall kimonos and samurai robes ran around, stopping momentarily to smile for the camera. One photographer was photographing a beaming grandmother dressed in a traditional kimono and the tiny head of her new grandbaby was just showing above the large, draping-fabric detail of her brown floral kimono sleeve. That was going to be a beautiful pic.
We wandered around oohing and awing the adorable kids in their miniature regalia, and the beautiful explosions of oranges, yellows, and reds sprinkled throughout the otherwise lush green setting. There are supposedly over 100,000 trees planted here. The park is home to quite a few forty-foot-tall tori gates, a museum, and an enormous shrine complex. The shrine was built back in the 1920s as a dedication to the spirits of the Emperor Meiji and his empress. It’s a lovely place to spend time strolling, enjoying nature, and for people watching.
We left the park at the main entrance and turned right, heading away from the train station from which we’d arrived. A short distance past this Meiji-jinju Shrine area was Yoyogi Park.
Yoyogi (I love saying this name) is a large park as well but it features at the entrance a main walkway with a long fountain running down its middle, leading to a large pond. It is an area mostly of rolling flat lawns and trees—many of which were covered with red, orange, or yellow leaves, though many were now leafless. I can imagine it was even more colorful a couple of weeks earlier before the leaves started to drop. It’s a pretty park but it lacks the lush greenery of the forest of neighboring Meiji-jinju.
After enjoying the serenity of the parks and a couple of cans of mystery booze, we wandered off to Tokyo Midtown to take in the garishness of a shopping center and all its famous Xmas lights. From the photos and descriptions of the place it was supposed to put one in the mood for Xmas by hammering it over your head. I couldn’t wait.
From the various sites I’ve read, there are supposed to be over 180,000 LED lights on display here. I kept losing count, so I guess I’ll just have to take their word for it. According to their website this year’s theme with its sci-fi feeling is called ‘Midtown Cruise’. Go figure. The surrounding high-end Galleria shopping area, which includes a Ritz Carlton, is decorated with the typical Christmas deco and shops. It was like any high end shopping mall anywhere. We bought a lighted xmas card for $13.
Though it was pretty, it wasn't as beautiful as I'd imagined and the 180,000 LED lights didn't hold a match to the beauty we found in the surrounding parks.