On the day's itinerary: Harajuku and a cat cafe, hooray!
For our visit to Harajuku, we did extensive research to find out the perfect days and times to see the famous Harajuku girls hanging out on cosplay bridge, and we found out that the best time is Sunday afternoon around 2-3 pm. Perfect. We would sleep in, have a lovely brunch and then head over to see the hordes of cosplayers walking across the bridge!
Autumn Grand Festival at Meiji Shrine
Past the "cosplay" bridge was the very pretty and very large Yoyogi Park with the Meiji Shrine at its center. I had read that the shrine was celebrating Emperor Meiji's birthday with its annual Autumn Grand Festival, so we decided to go and check it out.
As we walked towards the shrine, we found ourselves a bit in awe at such a scenic and green paradise was implanted right in the middle of the loudest and most crowded city I've ever visited. I want to use the words "peaceful" and "tranquil" to describe it, but they wouldn't be the right words. There were still eight hundred thousand billion people walking with us.
As we got a bit closer to the shrine, we began to see the massive amounts of offerings from all over Japan in commemoration of the emperor. Gifts included barrels of wine and sake, gigantic chrysanthemums, intricate bonsai gardens, beautiful floral arrangements, boxes of tea, bottles of water, cookie platters - pretty much any product that you can think of was represented.
Visitors at the shrine were invited to write their prayers or wishes onto wooden tablets and hang them on the wishing wall surrounding the sacred Camphor tree. Shinto priests will then pray for all of the prayers/wishes that are placed on the wall. It was beautiful to see all of the prayers from around the world in different languages on the tablets.
Cheating on Abby and Mr. O'Malley at Neko JaLaLa Cat Cafe
No, you don't eat cats at the cat cafe. You sit down in a room filled with cats and enjoy drinks while trying (often unsuccessfully) to make one of the felines pay attention to you by offering them affection and cat treats. When that doesn't work, you just pull out your phone and start taking pictures of them in hopes of making your Instagram look like you're connecting with cats in Japan. Awesome, you say? I know, right?!
We paid for 30 minutes of time with our new furry friends. I paid a few dollars for a small container of tuna fish to feed to the cats. I'm assuming that they sell approximately one container of tuna every 2.4 seconds because the cats were tuna-fished out.
Eventually I had to start sneaking up on sleeping cats and taking selfies with them to prove I was there.
Maybe my expectations were too high. I imagined that I would just lay on the ground and have a hundred fluffy cats run and swarm me with head nuzzles. Either way, I'm glad that I went and got it out of my system. We (okay, just me) had initially planned to visit multiple cat cafes during our trip, but just this one was good enough for me. Jeffrey was probably disappointed, though; he was having the time of his life.
Enjoying the Local Cuisine
We ended the night by heading to a local bar and having some of the deep-dish pizza that Japan is so well-known for.