In all its concrete and steel grandeur, it’s hard to believe there’s a single pocket of green to be found in the heart of Tokyo. Yet, you don’t have to look any further than Meiji Shrine (明治神宮) for a slice of nature right next to the bustling streets of Harajuku. No matter how many times I visit, there’s something so calming about that long stroll to the shrine’s main entrance. If you ask me, taking in the lush green canopy and sounds of rustling leaves really is an experience comparable to no other.

You can’t visit Meiji Shrine without stopping to admire the ever famous wall of sake barrels there. The sake itself is actually donated by breweries all over Japan, and has the purpose of being used in ceremonies and festivals. While the barrels may be empty, you can’t deny that they’re pretty darn photogenic! I always take a snap when I happen to be passing by.

When we visited, preparations were already underway for the inevitable crush of people that would arrive on New Year’s Eve. In Japanese culture, most people will forgo partying to ring in the new year at their local shrine. Meiji Shrine in particular will often attract over three million visitors during this time, packing its grounds to the brim!

No matter what time of year you visit, there’s no doubt there’ll be a steady stream of visitors at Meiji Shrine. Surprisingly there was quite a lot of greenery when I visited, despite it being the dead of winter.

It’s hard to believe that just a few minutes away you’ll find Takeshita Dori, the epitome of Japanese teenage culture. As one of the country’s busiest shopping strips I find it a tad overwhelming, if I’m being completely honest! It’s a huge contrast from the more traditional side of things, but I guess that summarises Japanese culture in a nutshell. Until next time!