Lets pause for a minute and (re)introduce you to my amazing cousin Brandon. We grew up seeing each other once every few years when our paths would cross at family gatherings. Our beautiful grandmothers are close sisters and have kept the connection tight. Describing him is simple, he’s patient and kind, yet assertive and witty…. trusting him is easy due to to his sincerity that matches his genuine personality. I know that sounds like a lot of “nice” words thrown into a sentence, but he truly is a quality individual. Here we are almost 20 years ago followed by a picture from last October.
After enjoying a wonderful visit last year, I’ve returned to Japan to spend time with him and connect with his stunning girlfriend Jessica. She’s the gorgeous girl photoed below that naturally enhances everything around her with a vibrant smile and bright eyes. I would describe her as strong and sweet with just enough spice to keep him on his toes. Between the movie quotes, exaggerated imaginations and our compatible sense of humor, this is definitely a couple that I enjoy being around!
Today we’re off to visit a sacred park in the city of Harajuku. Traveling throughout Japan is relatively basic due to the convenient train system. From our door step to the nearest station is a simple 5 minute walk and from there, we took a few transfers as we made our way towards Tokyo. Along with us is one of their friends Kennedy, he’s also in the Navy and has been stationed here for 2 years.
Pit stop for two sweet treats! I feel like we should all live up to the “adult” status and have dessert first once in awhile. Mini cookies made with sweet Japanese potatoes and chocolate chips.
Ice cream that comes in a handy pouch? Really think about this, no spoon or messy cone, just a perfect serving in a resealable container on the go. Brilliant!
We’ve made it just in time for a short walk through the city (check out the size of the super crosswalk!) and an hour of exploring at the park. Note to future travelers, the inner park is generally open from 9am-4:30pm.
Before entering the shrine it’s courteous to cleanse in respect for Meiji Jingu. The proper sequence is to rinse your left hand, followed by your right. Then pour water back into your left hand to rinse your mouth. Continue by rinsing your left hand again and finish by rinsing the dipper.
Just before bowing through the entrance, I took a brief moment to capture a handstand shot and create a neat photo of this door that caught my eye.
As you approach the center, you’ll find families, tourists, people dressed in authentic costumes and a variety of exhibits.
On this day, we even got to witness a wedding!
Brandon surprised me with a “safe travels” blessing trinket from the shrine. Thanks cousin!
Leaving the location brought us through a forest that was created in honor of the Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken for their souls to dwell in. Each tree was placed and planted by hand!
An upside-down handstand (in respect of the Shrine and to prevent the Japanese guard from blowing his whistle at me…again).
After the visit, we took the long route back to the station through the popular Harajuku street. This ended up being so entertaining, that I’m going to save it for the next post! Here’s a sneak peek…