Although the heat is at times unbearable I do love the Japanese summer. My previous trip in June was less warm, but I really missed the sound of the cicada, it really is the sound of Japan to me. Today, rather than nature or history, our first stop was modern Japanese youth culture with a trip to Takeshita-dori in Harajuku.
I love going to visit Harajuku, walking down Takeshita-dori is one of the most claustrophobic but enjoyable experiences. The shop keepers all bellow into the narrow road to entice you into their shop, or to try the food. No trip to Harajuku for me is complete without being approached for photographs, the weird way round for being a tourist. It is great that Japanese people here feel able to try their English and are open to meeting new people.
If you ever visit Harajuku you may as well make the most of the expensive trip on the Yamanote line (unless you are using your JR pass) by visiting the near by Meiji Jingu and Yoyogi park for some nature and history.
Meiji Jingu was built to honour emperor Meiji who was responsible for uniting Japan during the Meiji restoration. I always recommend staying within the shrine for a short while as you are likely to catch a traditional Shinto wedding procession go past, which is a real sight to see. The landscaped gardens around are also great to see and changes with the seasons.
Finally we made it back to Jimbocho before Yasukuni shrine closed for the evening. For all the turbulence surrounding the shrine the grounds itself are peaceful and serene. Within the walls not only are found statues for those who died, but also the horses and other animals, but a pristine Kabuki stage. It is really worth visiting to see such an empty shrine of such importance.