Tokyo Tokyo

Oh Tokyo, Tokyo, a glimpse is not enough!

I was in awe. Although the sky was overcast and the threat of rain was imminent, I was standing infront of a beautiful structure. It was made of steel and built in 1964. And I have not seen anything like it ever. I was transfixed and moved, never mind if I had to walk uphill for almost a kilometer from the subway station but there was no other way for me to get to this stunning work. And at last, my first Kenzo Tange, recipient of the Pritzker Award in 1987. And I was face to face with his St. Mary’s Cathedral. Perhaps one of the greatest Modernist architecture in Japan.

My first Japan trip was more geared on exploring Kyoto. But since I entered via Narita in Tokyo, I spent two nights at a capsule hotel here to just have a glimpse of this city. I didn’t have plans of going around except for one, to visit the St. Mary’s Cathedral. The rest were just unplanned trips to anywhere my feet and where interesting architecture will lead me. I searched for other worthy Architecture and Shibuya seems to be an interesting place.

READ MORE: My first time experience sleeping at a capsule hotel

My day started with a visit to the Bentendon Hall Temple. Not really that I was intending to visit but as I was walking around Ueno station, I got lost within its many passageways. I had to backtrack several times, going around the station, at the attached department store and inadvertently exited at one side. That’s when I just decided to walk on and found the temple. After that, I took another train for the St. Mary’s Cathedral.

READ MORE: No plans in Tokyo, but, hey look at that temple!

There were not much people at the cathedral premises and which I wanted since I was taking photos of the edifice. While it was not permissible to take photos inside, I just did it surreptitiously but was a bit challenged as it was not well lighted. Walking to and from the cathedral is in itself great as I got to walk past Japanese neighborhoods, pass by modern Japanese houses and interesting cafes. But what I just didn’t like was it was humid and I had to buy bottles of cold water or drinks whenever I pass a convenience store.

I decided to go to Shibuya and do what tourists mainly do as well as to take photos of the station that another Pritzker Award winner, Tadao Ando designed. I did find the station but it was kind of difficult with all those entrances and exits, those tunnels to and from one point to another until I realized that, hey, I’m actually near the Hachikō-guchi, the Hachiko station entrance/exit! Of course, I had to go to the dog’s bust and take photos. The area is indeed lively. It’s not only a meeting place but also where several promotional events happen. Good thing? The entire Shibuya area offers free internet!

And of course, not far from where the Hachiko bust is also the world famous Shibuya crossing. When I found it, I just got thrilled and was smiling. I was at first observing the crossing. Once the motor traffic stops, its just a walk. Many tourists take photos, videos of them crossing. Or playing antics while being photographed. I just followed the crowd to the other side. And did another crossing after. When in Shibuya, you just have to follow what other tourists do.

Nightfall and I was already tired from walking. I did try a small sushi bar at one of the buildings. Kind of expensive but totally worth it. Fresh and delicious. What I do find interesting was that they don’t include a knob of wasabi when serving the sushi. Instead, a small amount is already included in the individual sushi. After that, I visited another cafe serving a Japanese dessert, ogura anmitsu and some ice cream. Sweet and delicious.

For the next hour, I was in Aoyama where the many fashion flagship stores are with their equally beautiful architecture. I was just photographing in this area, like the beautiful Prada building by Herzog & de Meuron. Then Back to Ueno and to my capsule hotel and readying for my trip to Kyoto the following day. Two nights is never enough! A glimpse of Tokyo is never enough! More reason for me to go back again. Soon.

The stunning St. Mary's Cathedral, the seat of the Archdiocese of Tokyo was designed by Kenzo Tange, Pritzker Award Winner. It is one of the modernist buildings in the city and built in 1964.

The stunning St. Mary’s Cathedral, the seat of the Archdiocese of Tokyo was designed by Kenzo Tange, Pritzker Award Winner. It is one of the modernist buildings in the city and built in 1964.

Taking the Tokyo subway, left and the busy street just outside the capsule hotel I'm staying and near the Ueno train station, right.

Taking the Tokyo subway, left and the busy street just outside the capsule hotel I’m staying and near the Ueno train station, right.

At the Ueno train station, ate at this noodle house. To order, one has to use the machine and wait for one's order to be served. It's fast and interesting. The food is good too!

At the Ueno train station, ate at this noodle house. To order, one has to use the machine and wait for one’s order to be served. It’s fast and interesting. The food is good too!

The stunning Prada flagship store in Aoyama designed by Herzog & de Meuron

The stunning Prada flagship store in Aoyama designed by Herzog & de Meuron

One of the entrances to the subway trains in Shibuya. This particular entrance is where famous architect, Tadao Ando designed one of the stations.

One of the entrances to the subway trains in Shibuya. This particular entrance is where famous architect, Tadao Ando designed one of the stations.

The famous Shibuya intersection before the crossing

The famous Shibuya intersection before the crossing

For a few minutes, people do the Shibuya crossing and because of its popularity, many take photos, pose, do antics for them to post on social media.

For a few minutes, people do the Shibuya crossing and because of its popularity, many take photos, pose, do antics for them to post on social media.

Ogura Anmitsu, a traditional Japanese dessert containing sweet red bean paste, agar jelly, boiled beans, gyuhi (soft sweets made from glutinous rice flour) and fruits. It is eaten with raw sugar syrup.

Ogura Anmitsu, a traditional Japanese dessert containing sweet red bean paste, agar jelly, boiled beans, gyuhi (soft sweets made from glutinous rice flour) and fruits. It is eaten with raw sugar syrup.

A delightful and authentic sushi set from one of the small sushi bars in Shibuya. Curiously, wasabe is not included, as practiced in the Philippines.

A delightful and authentic sushi set from one of the small sushi bars in Shibuya. Curiously, wasabe is not included, as practiced in the Philippines.

The famous bust of Hachiko in Shibuya is the second to be erected, this one from 1948. The original 1934 bronze was used in Japan's war effort.

The famous bust of Hachiko in Shibuya is the second to be erected, this one from 1948. The original 1934 bronze was used in Japan’s war effort.

A tasty treat in one of the food stalls lining the street leading to the Bentendo Hall temple.

A tasty treat in one of the food stalls lining the street leading to the Bentendo Hall temple.

This trip was made possible by Philippine Airlines who provided the Manila-Tokyo/Osaka-Manila plane tickets. Check their website Philippine Airlines for tickets and promos. Like their Facebook page and follow them in Twitter.

Estan Cabigas is freelance photographer, blogger and writer based in Makati City, the Philippines. A true blue Cebuano, he makes stunning images and meaningful photo stories. His work has been published in local and international publications including National Geographic Magazine, Geo (Germany), Sunday Times Magazine (London) and other publications.

He is also a peripatetic traveler and has traveled to all 81 Philippines provinces.

I’m open for work, collaborations and inquiries, including hotel, restaurant and site features and reviews.

3 Comments

  1. Estan Cabigas (@EstanCabigas)
    June 22, 2016 @ 8:38

    Oh Tokyo, Tokyo, a glimpse is not enough!: I was in awe. Although the sky was overcast and the threat of rain… https://t.co/KBasTc4mJp

  2. Estan, Ang Langyaw (@LangyawMedia)
    June 22, 2016 @ 11:41

    #Tokyo, if only I had more time! #japan

    https://t.co/Cdhl8VxPFu https://t.co/P8y6MzlPnS

  3. bertN
    June 22, 2016 @ 20:35

    Sushi is not enjoyable to eat without wasabe on the side, isn’t it?

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