When you live near the most populous metropolitan area in the world, it pays to get out and experience all there is to see, as often as you can. When that city is also just an hour’s train ride away, there is really little excuse not to go! As I am always finding out, Tokyo is a city I will likely never be able to see all of during my stay here in Japan. Its sheer size and density makes planning out a day trip all the more difficult. Nowadays, when I do go to Tokyo, there is rarely a specific place in mind I try to go to. Instead, based on the weather conditions and local happenings, I vaguely plan my route as I am on the train ride over!
A couple weeks ago was another of those small trips. Unlike my past lucky visit to the Sumida and Asakusa area, this little venture’s low-key theme settled around some of the parks and gardens in the Shibuya area. Camera in hand, I first walked through the popular Meiji Jingu shrine located within a large 170 acre forest. This was actually my second time visiting the shrine—in my first visit during December of 2015, my camera had not yet arrived from my household goods shipment. At the many entrances to the grounds stand huge Torii gates for all visitors to walk under.
At this entrance in particular, visitors can see the NTT Docomo Yoyogi Skyscraper, the 4th tallest building in Tokyo.
During the long walk through the shrine grounds, almost all pathways are covered in thick canopy reaching around 75 feet.
Unfortunately, when I finally made it to the main shrine, I found it undergoing extensive repairs as part of a substantial restoration process in preparation for a 100th anniversary celebration in 2020. The shrine was covered, but a couple other details still stood out to visitors.
As I made my way out of the immediate shrine grounds, I came across the entrance to Yoyogi Gyoen, a small, secluded lily garden within the forest dating back to the Edo period of Japan. In the garden’s pamphlet, they feature a Waka poem composed by Emperor Meiji (1852-1912) in high praise of the area: Utsusemino Yoyogi no sat wa Shizukanite, Miyako no hokano Kokochi koso sure (Deep in the woodland of Yoyogi, the quietude creates an illusion of seclusion from the city). Indeed, the layout of the garden in the center of the forest makes it impossible to see or hear anything from the hustle and bustle of Tokyo only a few hundred meters away.
The garden is especially popular for its varied iris garden that features 1500 iris groups during full bloom in June (note: I plan to return then).
Finally, hidden in the shade and interior of the garden is Kyomasa’s Well, a natural spring that was one of the most famous in the Edo period. Flowing constantly at 15 degrees celsius (59 degrees fahrenheit) year-round, the crystal clear water was used for tea ceremonies until recently and currently irrigates the Iris garden.
Before I called it a day and got some hearty ramen, I decided to stop by Yoyogi park (134 acres), a public space conveniently attached to the Meiji Jingu area. Apart from the hoards of Pokemon GO players crowded around some of the park’s landmarks (I’m talking HUNDREDS of players within eyesight at any time…), the space is less a photogenic park and more of a large and varied recreation and exercise hub in Tokyo.
But of course, I have to meet my flower quota in posts as often as possible. This one is no exception, with a small area of flowers on the way to the ramen shop resembling Black-Eyed Susans found back in my home state of Kentucky.
That’s all for this short post, guys and gals, thanks for dropping by! Tokyo sure is a place full of unique sights and fun happenings pretty much year round. With festivals, seasonal changes, and infinitely more variables, I am sure to get new photographs from the megacity every time I visit. As always, have a great day!