November is normally a slow month right? It’s right between holidays, and well into the middle of the semester for schools too. But for someone who is currently living abroad as an experience, this downtime is a opportunity to try new things and explore the city. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, until my friend Isabelle, who is also from Canada and currently studying in Japan, said she was coming to Tokyo for the weekend. It was then that I started looking for all kinds of places we could visit and things we could do. We first went to Ikebukuro, where we did some shopping in Sunshine City and the Pokemon Center as well as the Disney Store.
We then moved on to the Ikefukurou Owl Café ('fukurou' is a Japanese for 'owl', so the cafe is a pun on Ikebukuro). Ikefukurou itself is pretty small, but it’s home to more than a dozen owls. Before entering, we had to read the rules and disinfect our shoes. Luckily for me, one of the staff spoke French, and we quickly started to speak about the owls and how things work at the café. Although the owls are tied up with a rope to their poles during the day (to keep them from getting into fights), the staff also takes care of them at night, to teach them how to fly and come when their name is called. I did still feel a bit bad about the owls unable to fly but overall it was a very special experience. Isabelle particularly bonded with one tiny owl named Annie, which stayed in her arms for more than 20 minutes!
Our next stop was the famous Sensouji shrine in Asakusa. I had already been there before, but it’s such a beautiful site that I was very glad to go again. It’s a very famous and beautiful site and also a spot to buy souvenirs and traditional sweets, so if you’re in the area, please check it out. Our final stop for the day was Akihabara, a district known for its attractions related to Japanese comic books and cartoons. Even though there isn’t much to do per say in Akihabara (or Akiba for short), the huge advertisements and screens on the buildings are truly a sight to behold.
The next day started in Shinkuku Gyoen, a very spacious park close to Shinjuku station. The park itself is separated in smaller areas, such as a greenhouse, flower gardens and chrysanthemum beds. Although it’s right next to a very busy shopping area, the park itself makes for a rare oasis of calm and quiet in the big city, which was welcome. We spent the afternoon in Harajuku, where our first stop was to have coffee with very sssssssspecial friends!
The Snake Center is a still relatively new establishment that is home to more than a dozen scaly companions. In the shop, people can enjoy tasty drinks with a snake in a cage on the table but for an extra 500 yen they can also hold a snake for 10 minutes, which is what we did! The snakes were very nice and soft to the touch.
We spent the rest of the afternoon shopping in Shibuya, where we explored the famous Shibuya 109 building, which is right across from what is nothing less than the most crossed intersection in the world. I wanted to take Isabelle to the Emperor’s palace before she left, but she still had to buy gifts at Tokyo Station before leaving, so we couldn’t go, but it was still a great weekend . If you’re in Tokyo, please try to visit some of the places I mentioned above! You’ll be sure to have a great time.
See you next month!