Serenity and punk fun in Tokyo

It is hard to find more contrasting areas in Tokyo than the Imperial Palace and the combination of the Shibuya and Harajuku districts.  I visited them consecutively and the differences were even more striking paced on that juxtaposition.  The Imperial Palace grounds are quiet, calm and relatively devoid of people.  Shibuya couldn’t be more different, with hundreds of people crossing the street every sixty seconds and thousands more in the surrounding areas.  In addition to the numbers of people, the type of people you run in to on the streets is very different.  The palace grounds were being enjoyed mostly by older folks while the Shibuya area saw punk fun at every turn.

First up, a few pictures from the Palace grounds.  They are impeccably well maintained, which should come as no surprise, and there are quite a few rather old buildings still on the grounds, including this guard house, though I think the rain gutters are likely a more recent addition.


There were several folks out on the palace grounds on this Thursday afternoon, enjoying a blue sky day and getting a bit of painting done.  Some of the stuff actually looked pretty good, I’d say.


And, though it isn’t quite Cherry Blossom season yet, it is very close, and there were a number of flowers starting to bloom throughout the grounds.


A bit of meditation helps to melt away the stress.


And, headed out of the area, checking out some of the serious hardware they have for door locks.  I know that there isn’t really a sense of scale in the photo, but the “bolt” there is probably about ten inches square.  They weren’t messing around with that stuff.


And from that serenity I made my way to the metro and then to the Harajuku area and then the Shibuya area to watch the crowds go wandering by.  Suffice it to say that there was a wide variety of options visible when it comes to the dress code.  High heels and (very) short skirts are quite popular in Tokyo among young women, it seems, as were a number of less traditional options.

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And then, of course, there is the famous intersection in Shibuya, right outside the train station, that sees hundreds of pedestrians with each cycle of the lights.  Getting a decent photo of the crowd is harder than it might seem, especially at night. I actually ended up climbing on a traffic barricade and using a lamp post as a balance source to get some of these photos.  Yes, I was stared at even more than just for being a gaijin on the street taking lots of photos.  But I got the shots, so I don’t really care all that much.

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One more photo that I took during the <> visit, this time of myself:


Each of the areas has its own merits, and all are worth a visit.  Just plan your day to take advantage of the benefits that each area has to offer (the kids don’t really come out until after school and the Imperial Palace grounds close at night, for example) so you don’t miss out on any of the fun or the calm.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


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