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.
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.
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.
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.