What was left of typhoon Noul smashed into the city last night. The wind cracked it’s wicked whip as I hunkered down with a box of various, attracting looking delicatessen for the evening to watch my new favourite sport: baseball. Perhaps the sport not immediately synonymous with the Land of the Rising Sun, the country’s link to baseball stretches way back to 1872 when it emigrated with an American Professor.
After a bit of googling, turns out there’s some real cash involved too. Abe Shinnosuke is currently the highest paid player in the Nippon Professional Baseball league with an annual take home pay of around $4.3m USD.
Unfortuantely my newly adopted team, the Yokohama Baystars, lost. But I didn’t mind. I had my mouth stuffed with cake. Cake has that wonderful ability to diffuse anger. Perhaps it should be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
This morning was an absolute scorcher. I’d had a relatively normal night of sleep, and feel as if I’m slowly, but surely, adjusting to the jet lag. I set out at around 10:40am towards Harajuku and Meiji Shrine, my first stop of the day. On foot from Yoko’s it took about 35 minutes heading South-East of Shinjuku.
Emperor Meiji was (and still is) revered amongst the Japanese peoples. Born in November 1852, Meiji was Japan’s 122nd Emperor and reigned from 1867 up until his death in 1912. The eponymously named Meiji period, saw Japan shift from an isolated, pre-industrial island of intrigue to a capitalist, imperialist power.
More significantly, he even has a brand of chocolate named after him. It’s damn nice too.
The Shinto (ethnic Japanese religion) shrine built to honour him and his wife Empress Shoken, originally opened in 1920 and has continued to act as focal point of Tokyoian life. Sitting within the tranquil confines of Yoyogi Park, it’s amazingly peaceful.
Without really straining to hear, it’s almost impossible to tell that you’re standing in the heart of the world’s largest megacity.
Meiji Shrine and it’s many treasure houses are almost lost in the huge 170 acres of forest with it’s winding pathways.
Strikingly, the forest by and large, is as old as the shrine itself.
It’s made up of over 100,000 trees (365 species to be exact) donated from all over Japan- a true testament to this revered royal couple’s longstanding influence upon it’s citizens.
From here, I headed to Shinjuku National Gyoen which can be seen as the ‘central park-esque’ parkland in one of my pictures from the top of the Soviet spaceship.