Day 16: Tokyo

Woke up at 6.30am, realised it was early so went back to sleep for a few hours. I eventually rose at 11.25am and got ready for our big day!

We headed back to Harajuku and went to the Meiji Jingu Shinto Shrine. The shrine is dedicated to Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken as they shaped Japan into the country it is today. They both died more than 100 year ago but in their lives they introduced Western Civilisation and technologies into Japan whilst preserving the Japanese identity as well as promoting national welfare and women's education. The 17 acres of gardens surrounding the shrine house many endangered plants and animals and parts of the gardens were actually designed by Emperor Meiji for the Empress to enjoy her favourite flower, the iris during the hotter months of June and July as well as a fishing pond for her to relax by. The shrine itself was mostly covered in plywood as they are currently doing renovations prior to the Tokyo Olympics but the Torii gate outside the Shrine was impressive. It was placed at the shrine in 1958 after the shrine was flattened in WW2. The gate is made from 1500 year old Japanese Cypress and is the largest wooden Torii. 

After the Shrine, we ventured into Harajuku for a late lunch at a yummy ramen place. I had the tonkatsu ramen with slow cooked pork belly. It tasted so fresh and was delicious! Upstairs, we went to the famous ‘Harry the Hedgehog’ Cafe and got up close with four hedgehogs including the cutest albino! After playing with the for 30 minutes allocated we decided to head to our planned activity. Mario Cart!

We took the train to Kita-Shinagawa station and walked through some streets before we made it to the store front. We changed into our Mario and Luigi costumes, complete with stick on moustaches! 

After our 30 second lesson on how to drive the carts, we were off driving on some of the busiest roads. We first went across the rainbow bridge around Tokyo Bay and ended up at the Statue of Liberty. Many our tourists and locals wanted pictures with Jacinta and I as we looked hilarious. 

Back into our carts, we went across the rainbow bridge passed Tokyo Tower, Roppongi district and to the famous Shibuya Crossing (Shibuya Scramble). We drove thought the crossing three times and each time was magnificent. All of the pretty billboards were lit up and flashing signs everywhere, not to mention, the immense crowds of people. Supposedly 1000 people can cross at any one time. People were taking our pictures left, right and centre (whilst they crossed)

After three hours, we got back to the store and handed our costumes over. We walked back the train station and after a 20 minute train ride, we were back in Shinjuku. As it was 11pm, we bought some salad, rice balls and meat for dinner back in the room. (Rice ball count: 17). Exhausting day!