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Cycling, Harajuku, Yoyogi and Roppongi


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large_5550_14319907491348.jpgRenting a bike to cycle near the Palace moat area.
I woke to a lovely clear sunny day, in fact, the only nice day forecast for my entire stay in Japan. It was perfect for cycling around the Palace moat area, something that’s only possible on dry Sundays.

I took the tube to Nijubashimae and found the place for borrowing free bicycles near exit 2. I thought I wouldn’t be allowed it because I didn’t have my hotel phone number handy. But fortunately, the staff weren’t strict enough to insist on it.

The 3km cycle track consists of closed-off sections of normal road, with traffic lights still operational. It was still quite far from the palace itself and allowed a little more than a glimpse of the building (actually, even dismounting and walking closer to the buildings doesn’t get you much of an improved view).large_5550_1431990797562.jpgCycling near the Palace moat area.

Near the turnaround point, I stopped briefly at a scenic spot by the moat. One of the staff who happened me nearby told me off as I guess there were other people waiting to use the bikes. So I quickly made my way back only to be stopped by a pair of cops.

Without understanding what they were asking in Japanese, they appeared to query the condition of the bike. I indicated it was the free rental bike and they appeared to be satisfied after asking to see my passport (not sure why that makes a difference as locals can borrow the bike too, I think).

The bike ride was short and sweet, and it couldn’t have happened on a better day with glorious blue skies.
Next up was Harajuku, the epicentre of the Japanese teen fashion scene. The crowds at the station area was unbelievable as the stations (tube and train) served traffic for Harajuku, Meiji temple and Yoyogi Park.large_5550_14319907843843.jpgGlimpse of the Palace.

I grabbed some lunch at a roadside lunch-bar which had a lesser-known quiet upstairs eat-in area overlooking the crowds.

Having filled up, it was time to walk through the wooded paths to Meiji Temple. It was a nice to be greenery so close to the city. A bank of richly decorated barrels was seen on the right hand side in one area leading to the temples. On the opposite side was its Western counterpart which was pale in comparison in its beauty. If I remember correctly, these wine barrels are to commemorate the initial opening up of Japan and the acceptance of the good elements of global culture.

The temple area consisted of building in dark wood. They were quite sombre and didn’t have the rich colour and gold seen in some other Japanese temples.

I thought I’d do justice to the Harajuku area with a good wander before straying away from the area.large_5550_14319907568103.jpgCycling near the Palace moat area.The crowds were amazing, especially in Takeshita Street which appeared to be a main alley. I did get to see a few people dressed in their quirky teen-fashion outfits like Little Miss Bo-peep etc.

I found the entrance to Yoyogi Park nearby. There were a few punk rockers near the entrance dancing to music. Apart from that, the park was full of people picnicking, walking their dogs and generally having a good time. There were lots of stalls selling street food and I was ready for Lunch Part Two.

I continued to Shibuya [Shibuya-travel-guide-1311183] crossing, reputedly the world's busiest pedestrian crossing. Starbucks upstairs gave a good vantage point to observe the merging of the crowd from all directions. I stayed a couple of cycles before moving on to explore the area.large_5550_14319907586491.jpgAnother rare selfie, this time with the sakura.

It was nearly dark when I got to Roppongi [Roppongi-travel-guide-1311836] by tube. There wasn’t much that interested me in the big mall so I walked around the bar district. It was still a lot early and the bar scene wasn’t too obvious apart from the low-key signage. Much of it appeared to be upstairs in the high-rise. The touts weren’t out yet perhaps.

My tummy wasn’t feeling quesy from the day’s greasy street food. I stumbled upon exactly what I wanted at the Hub English Pub which offered a salad and wine for JPY1000. It was too good to be true as they were closed that evening for a private function.

Instead, I grabbed dinner from the convenience store which I enjoyed in the comfort of my room.

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Posted by alexchan 17:00 Archived in Japan

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