Following our morning stroll around Asakusa and Ueno, James and I migrated over to the outrageously busy shopping district of Shibuya to have lunch with Luke and TJ at a rather pretty organic food café, then spent the rest of the afternoon with them wandering hip Harajuku. We got ourselves some bubble tea, walked the length of Takeshita Street, wandered Yoyogi Park, visited the Meiji Jingu shrine, explored the zelkova-lined avenue of Omotesandō, and even visited a rabbit café!
Here’s our compiled list of 7 cool things you can do in and around Shibuya and Harajuku, with enough photographs to kill your internet speed.
1. Have lunch at Daylight Kitchen
A peaceful refuge from the ever-chaotic hustle and bustle of Shibuya, Daylight Kitchen is a light and airy restaurant that offers healthy, natural and organic fare. They also offer vegetarian and vegan options. The restaurant exudes a charm very different to that of its surrounds, cleverly using soft woods and lush green plants to turn the place into an idyllic spot amid the concrete jungle of Shibuya. We sampled the set meals, which came with your choice of a pork, fish or vegan main dish, various side dishes, a bowl of half-milled rice with barley, salad, and miso soup.
2. Buy a ridiculously loaded crêpe
Apart from the bizarre fashion enthusiasts that roam the area, Harajuku is also famous for elaborately filled crêpes. From sweet fillings like strawberries, bananas, custard, chocolate sauce, whipped cream, red bean paste and matcha ice cream, to savoury choices like curry sauce and pork cutlets, you will be spoilt for choice. We didn’t get any this time but we tried a double chocolate banana and cream crêpe on our last trip and the experience was fabuleux.
3. Drink some super oishii bubble tea
Another thing that caught our eye along Takeshita Street was a brightly lit café that advertised bubble tea. It’s always a nice surprise to come across bubble tea in Japan because it’s not a common sight (this isn’t Taiwan, so that’s understandable). Caffè Solare offers a refreshing choice of tea-based, milk-based or soda-based drinks that you can pair up with some chewy tapioca pearls. Just drink up in the store or you’ll have a heck of a time trying to find a bin later.
4. Take rad photographs at Yoyogi Park
5. Admire the famous Meiji Jingu shrine
Meiji Jingu is a Shinto shrine founded in 1921 to enshrine Emperor and Empress Meiji, Japan’s first sovereign figures following the demise of rule by the samurai class. The major buildings of the shrine were burned down in 1945 from air raids during World War II but were eventually reconstructed in 1958. Meiji Jingu is probably one of Tokyo’s most iconic visitor attractions.
6. Enjoy great coffee at OMOTESANDO KOFFEE
Omotesando Koffee is located in a most unlikely place: along a quiet street lined with uninteresting houses and low-rise apartments. When we got to the coffee shop, it already had a small crowd and people somehow kept trickling in. Omotesando Koffee is a very minimalist coffee shop. In fact, it is essentially just a narrow hole-in-the-wall space surrounded by a small zen-type patio and garden, with a single barista working the machine. I think the place draws so many people because TripAdvisor ranks it as the number one place in Tokyo to get a good coffee. And okay, yes, our verdict coincides with the claim. They serve pretty fantastic coffee.
7. Let Your Heart Melt at a rabbit café
Because cat cafés are so passé and owl cafés are too “out there”. If you want to feel blessed in the presence of freaking kawaii rabbits, spend 30 minutes at the Ra.a.g.f Rabbit Café (or more if you really like rabbits and are happy to fork out more cash to stay). You can buy a cup full of chopped vegetables to feed the bunnies and make them fat. Or buy yourself an average cup of tea and sit back to observe the rabbits scramble around the place – some might decide to crawl onto you as if to say “stop drinking your stupid tea and give me food, baka gaijin”. A pretty novel experience.