I first came to Japan in September 2011. I originally wanted to come to see of what Japan was like. The way it was seen in England was that Japan was living behind the times and was not very modernised. How very wrong I was. Not only was Japan modernised, it was also well beyond advancement in comparison to England.
I was very shocked and overwhelmed by the vast array of electric lights and cars, (not very surprising seeing as I was brought up in Devon and considered a country bumpkin), but maybe this was just a wake up call that I really needed.
One of the best things that I saw was in Yoyogi. I was part of a tour company that year, and part of the tour was a visit to Meiji-jingu Shrine in Yoyogi, and Yoyogi Park. I would honestly recommend these experiences to anyone. In particular Yoyogi Park.
It was first opened for the use of US military personnel. They used it as a residential area. In 1964 it became the Olympic Village for the Tokyo Olympics. It’s officially opened as a park in 1967.
The park has been noted as one of the largest parks in Tokyo. It has a wide array of lawns, a dog walking area, a large pond with a fountain, and a ginko tree forest that turns gold in the autumn.
The park also has some cherry blossom trees, which in full bloom are stunning, and you will generally meet groups of people gathering on picnic mats eating food, drinking, and laughing. The Tokyo and Saitama Meet Up Group (language exchange group) have met up for occasions such as Cherry Blossom season.
Cherry Blossom season is a short lived season. It normally starts around the end of April and finishes at the start of May.
The best day to visit Yoyogi Park is on a Sunday! If you go on a Sunday, you are in for a bit of a treat. In addition to the tranquil park, you also get the Yoyogi dancers all dressed up in their 50s gear, and grooving the day away.
Sometimes you may even catch a festival happening in Yoyogi park.
The park opens every day, it has no closing time, and it is free. It is approximately a five minute walk from Harajuku station on the Yamanote line. If you are coming from Shinjuku station, then it'll take 4 minutes to get to Harajuku station. At the station, take the Omote-sando exit, as it will bring you closer to the park.
Visiting the park itself probably would only take a part of your day. It would be worthwhile checking out some other things that are nearby.
You may want to check out Meiji-jingu Shrine. The shrine is about 3 minutes away from the park. The entrance is not hard to miss. In fact, you will probably see it as you are walking to Yoyogi park.
It's surrounded by a very large wood. It definitely has some tourist attractions there such as the barrels of sake, the famous shrine itself, and if you are very lucky, you may even catch a wedding ceremony. It opens from around 10am and closes around 6pm, and the entrance is free.
Then you might be hungry. Who wouldn’t be? So, you have to get something to eat! I would recommend a restaurant called Jangara Ramen. It’s a chain restaurant that serves up ramen, that's about a 7 minute walk from Yoyogi Park, and a 3 minute walk from the entrance of Meiji-jingu Shrine. It's located on the 2nd floor.
Jangara Ramen is a slightly different restaurant. Most restaurants in Japan do not serve up vegetarian or vegan options. Vegetarianism and veganism are seldom heard of in Japan, and it often causes confusion. The vegan ramen that they serve up has a salt soup base, and a special tofu recipe to make up the protein. Although the budget is slightly more expensive than perhaps what you would pay in most fast food places, the ¥1000 is very well spent. If you have some carnivores with you, then their meals would also cost between ¥800 and ¥1000.
The address for Jangara Ramen is;
It opens from 10am -12am, it's located on the 2nd floor, and it has received a 4/5 star rating.