Tokyo

Day 9 – Shinjuku, Harajuku

Our last full day in Tokyo! Just as we’re almost able to navigate Shinjuku Station and generally know our way around, we have to leave tomorrow. First thing we have to do today is find me a new suitcase, because the wheel snapped off mine on the way to the hotel on our first day. They all appear to be ridiculously expensive in the department stores; we’re talking up to Y58,000 (£400+). Finally find one in Tokyu Hands for Y10,000 – it’s a bit too small but has four fully-functioning wheels so it will do.

Dump the case back in our room then go down to Shinjuku Gyoen gardens – only 300m or so from our hotel. It’s a bright sunny day again and it’s very pretty with the autumn leaves just changing colour. There’s a traditional tea house in the centre, an English rose garden, lakes with ducks and turtles – lots of nice photo ops.

We have lunch just outside the gardens at Aureole, a health food cafe – starter salad, tasty wholewheat pizza and chocolate cake for dessert for around 6 quid. A great thing about eating out here is the ‘set’ lunch and dinner deals, which are often great value and contain lots of little dishes, which is a nice way to eat. I also love that you’re given free iced water everywhere without having to ask, and a little wet towel to freshen up – wish London restaurants did this.

Next, metro down to Harajuku for final shopping – but first call, another cat cafe we spotted advertised outside the metro station the other night. The Cha Ma Mo cafe is smaller than the Ikebukuro one, and you aren’t allowed to pick the cats up – but they are friendlier and more playful than the ones at Nekobukuro so it’s more fun. I played with a sweet tabby and stroked a gorgeous sleeping seal-point Birman. They even have an adorable cream Scottish Fold but he’s curled up in his basket.

We wander out and around the bits of Harajuku we missed last time. Walk down the fairly tacky Takeshita Dori, only finding a good sock shop at the end, then go back to Kiddyland for a few more cute things, and to the souvenir shop Oriental Bazaar which has a surprisingly tasteful and good-value selection of gifts. Find ourselves in classy Omotesando which has all the designer shops of little interest to us, but the MOMA design shop is perched above Chanel and contains a cool Moleskine exhibition, including a paper-cut Tord Boontje piece – really nice.

For dinner we go to a restaurant recommended in the guidebook called Crayon House, which is healthy mostly-vegetarian food, and attached to a health food store. The food wasn’t that great but the place has a nice feel, with lots of kids in there in the early evening.

Say goodbye to crazy night-time Shinjuku on the way back to the hotel, then attempt the un-fun task of trying to fit all my purchases into a too-small new case…