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Japan Autumn 2023, Blog - 3

Our third blog, this was our first full day in Tokyo. We were blessed again with a full sun day temp being around 24c and getting warmer by the forecast for the rest of the week. The schedule today was to visit two gardens with different styles and design at separate locations, with both gardens being a short train journey apart. Then later in the day we had planned again take a short train journey to downtown Tokyo this time to the famous Shibuya District another hustling bustling area.

Setting of around 8:00am we stopped off and picked up some breakfast, coffee and some lunch as we’ve learned visiting gardens may be difficult to get a bite to eat so we always purchase a few sandwiches and treats as a contingency.

We headed off to the station to get our first train of the day which was a local train on the Chuo Line, to our destination which was the Rikugien Garden. This garden is one the three best gardens in Tokyo to visit, this afternoon’s garden being the second and the third we have planned to visit later in our Tokyo trip.

Rikugien is a kaiyu-style or circuit/walk around style daimyo garden typical of the Edo period. The garden was designed in 1702 by the lord of Kawagoe domain, who was commissioned by the 5th shogun. The tranquil garden shows a wide range of beautiful viewing spots while strolling around the pond. In 1878 the garden became a villa of the founder of Mitsubishi, with the Iwasaki family dominating the garden to Tokyo city in 1938. In 1953 the garden became not only a cultural heritage importance but also a special place of scenic beauty. It was certainly a lovely garden and we both fully enjoyed the walkaround.

We moved on and headed back to the station to catch our second local train, the trains on this route run a full circle around the inner Tokyo and run regular, we planned our itinerary for this day to take advantage of this, making it easy to go from one place to the next. Our second stop of the day was the Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden, which is more of a park with different themed gardens within it, so was a little different then the other’s we’ve visited in the past. The present site of Shinjuku Gyoen was originally one part of Edo residence of the Lord Naito. In the Meiji era, it became an agricultural experiment area, and then in 1906 it was made into an imperial garden. In 1949, it was opened to the public as a national garden. As mentioned, the garden features three different themes, a landscape garden, formal garden, and a Japanese traditional garden.

The garden was well attended by the locals enjoying the large expanse of grass area which is very unusual for gardens here in Japan. We had also found a nice scenic spot to scoff our sandwiches we purchased earlier as we knew it would be difficult to find somewhere for a spot of lunch.

This is a fairly large garden park, so we were here for a few hours before we moved on back to the train station again. This time it was about 4:00pm not long before dark as our plan was to head to another entertainment part of downtown Tokyo which is very famous area called Shibuya.

So back on the loop local train to Shinbuya Station. The place was absolutely packed. This is where the famous crossing is we see on the TV with all the celebs visiting for their tv programmes. As it started to get dark the buildings came alive with all the neon advertising which was cool to see. We walked around and visited some of the cool back street alleys! We had also planned to go up the Shibuya Sky Building to get an aerial view of the city and crossing but unfortunately, they were all booked out as limited numbers are allowed to go up to the top roof space, which was a bummer, but one for the next time we visit this district. We decided to head back to the train station to get the short train journey back to the central Tokyo station where we were based and freshen up then go back out for a nice meal and a beer or two.

This day we walked just over 8.5 miles.

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