Exploring Tokyo on a budget is quite easy given that there are several shrines and places that you can visit for free. One of these includes Meiji Shrine, just beside JR Harajuku station and Yoyogi Park. Meiji Shrine is one of the most celebrated places in Japan and welcomes nearly 3 million visitors during the first days of New Year for the first prayers. Every now and then, there are also traditional Shinto weddings being held in the place.
Upon getting off in JR Harajuku station, you just need to turn right , and right again, since the Meiji Shrine entrance is just at the back of the station. You will be entering the big wooden torii gate along the forested approach. The tree used to create this gate was around 1500 years old.
Everytime you enter a torii gate, make sure to bow first before entering, and avoid the center as this is believed to be reserved for the passage of the deity.
The walk from entrance until the main shrine will take around 10-15 minutes on a gravel road so make sure that you are wearing comfortable shoes. I personally enjoyed the experience as the place is full of tall and old trees, with ancient vibes, so everything is just so serene. Make sure to avoid having loud conversations as well as a form of respect.
On your way to the main entrance, you will pass by the very interesting sake barrel collection ( called “kazaridaru” )- which have been donated by sake brewers all over Japan for the enshrined deities of Meiji Jingu. This spot is quite photogenic, plus it also serves as a great icon for Japan.
Before entering the shrine, don’t forget to perform cleansing in the “temizuya” water pavilion. Good thing my friend Pat told me how to perform the ritual by (1)scooping water using right hand and pouring to left, (2) holding ladle using left and pouring to right, (3) In your left hand, take some water and rinse your mouth. Never touch your mouth with the ladle. You only scoop water one time during the start.
The shrine itself is a humble yet grand structure, guarded by 2 big, beautiful trees. I felt a surge of happiness upon seeing it.
When we visited, after offering our prayers, we’re lucky enough to witness a traditional wedding. It’s a very immersive experience to see how the initial ceremony goes, and how some Japanese families follow the traditions respectfully.
After our visit in Meiji Shrine (for around 1 hour), we decided to drop by in Harajuku, and search for the famous Gindaco takoyaki. The street along JR Harajuku station is wonderfully adorned by manga! Kawaii!
The entry to Takeshita Dori street is of course still crowded. It has a weird lively-young-again-shopping-fashion-kawaii-time feeling.
Upon entering the famous street, you will pass by Mcdonalds, and then one of the biggest Daiso in Tokyo. There are also several shops selling kawaii stuff -ranging from accessories, shirts, dress, bags, etc. If you are hungry, make sure to try Harajuku crepes! Two of the most famous brands are Marion and Angel Heart, so expect some queue before you can eat. Nonetheless, you can try the other brands too and based from my experience, they are all good. I usually order butter and sugar, but if I’m hungry, then I go for Mango -Caramel-Almond-Vanilla ice cream combo.
I was able to try one of the bestseller pastries being sold along Takeshita Dori which looks like a cream puff. I don’t know the name of the place nor product but once you smell something so good and see a long line, then go try it!
Always prepare your camera as well for cosplayers along the street. They are usually existent during weekends, but if you’re lucky you might see one or two Lolita shopping for clothes. As for us, we saw some cosplayers wearing pink attire.
And that’s it. The end of Takeshita Dori street is the point where you will see this across. I’m actually not sure if this area is the real Harajuku or not. Nonetheless, we enjoyed our experience in Harajuku.
Before I forget, we were still able to find Gindaco Takoyaki, but took the longer route. Instead of entering Takeshita Dori Street, we should have walked to the right of JR Harajuku exit, then crossed the pedestrian. The Gindaco store is just in the corner of the immediate intersection. Fortunately, their takoyaki is super delicious so all of our tiredness was gone!
How to go: Get off at JR Harajuku station. Meiji Shrine is just at the back of station, and Harajuku is just across the station.
Operating Hours( Meiji Shrine): Sunrise to sunset, no closing days
Read more about my Budget Travel Osaka Adventure:
- Part 1- Japan Travel like a Ninja for only 12,000 pesos – Personal Tips and Notes
- Part 2- Day 1-Japan Travel Like a Ninja for only 12,000 pesos – Arashiyama Bamboo Groves, Tenryu-Ji Temple, and Umeda Sky Building
- Part 3- Day 2-Japan Travel Like a Ninja for only 12,000 pesos – Osaka castle, Tenma, Pokemon Center Osaka, Dotonbori
- Part 4- Day 3-Japan Travel Like a Ninja for only 12,000 pesos – Kyoto, Kinkakuji Temple, Botanical Garden, Osaka Castle, Denden Town
- Part 5- Day 4-Japan Travel Like a Ninja for only 12,000 pesos -Namba, Dotonbori, Ichiran,Shinsaibashi
- Part 6-Japan Travel Like a Ninja for only 12,000 pesos-Itinerary and Budget
- Japan Travel in a Budget:Osaka-Nikko-Kyoto-Tokyo Autumn Highlights
- The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Universal Studios Japan Experience
- How to Apply for Japan Tourist Visa
Tokyo/Kanto Budget Travel posts:
- Budget Travel Itinerary for Japan 10 days- Osaka-Kyoto-Tokyo-Nikko
- Hitachi Seaside Park – Japan’s Best Autumn Spot
- Chureito Pagoda, Shimo-yoshida- Great View of Mt. Fuji
- Fujiko Museum (Doraemon) in Kawasaki Japan Experience
- Aoyama Flower Market – Tea House Relaxing Afternoon snack
Going to Japan soon but don’t know where to start? Try to avail of my customized budget itinerary to learn and be able to tour Japan alone! Just click here.