Shinjuku Gyoen is a massive park in the middle of the city. This is a nice reprieve from our morning of airports and subways. The fall colors are out and since it’s relatively early the place is pretty empty. Just inside the gate is a green house.
We step into the greenhouse and take a peak. Wow, humid. There’s a neat path that zigzags you to the back, up across a bridge, down under the bridge and back to an entrance in a 3d figure 8. Nice colors and patterns throughout, workers keep it tidy and organized. The little pond with Lily pads was great.
So for the first time ever I purchased a selfie stick and brought it on this trip. I figured we’d be doing couple-y shit in front of monuments and scenic views a lot and thought it was time to give it a shot. After a few moments of figuring out how to use the damn thing I was able to snap this little gem. Queenie’s pointing to the waterfall. Ok, this isn’t too bad. Now I may actually be in some of the pictures on a trip for a change.
Up next in the park is an old Imperial Rest House. We take off our shoes and I throw a giant pair of fuzzy sandals on. We aren’t allowed to take pictures inside. We tour through the place in a little square.
It’s just a few rooms and as we get to the last one a tour guide girl comes and tells us about the whole place. This is for Imperial family visits. They bring chefs to cater it. The family gets the first taste of pineapple and banana from the green house gardens that were here. There was a ‘boiler man’ who brought hot water for showers. The building has undergone multiple renovations. Imperial family members would be cold after shower in the fall and winter so they walled it in. After the girl tells us all this she admits that she’s actually not allowed to. She is in training, and isn’t supposed to starts until next year. “Oh it was really good, thank you so much”, and she walks away quickly seemingly embarrassed. Maybe she just wanted to practice her English then felt ashamed that she’d broken the rules? It was cute.
Back out into the park and more people are starting to show up. It’s a big outdoor area with tons of space. A tall clock tower nearby can be seen throughout. The gardens are well manicured and there are a number of ponds and water features. It’s peaceful in here, only the sounds of the occasional bird. Crows are larger and sound more sarcastic here. Like count Dracula. There are a few tea houses as well, one of which is having a traditional tea time right now served by a few girls in kimonos.
We find a nice looking shrine or something across a pond and walk around the water to find a way over to it. Apparently Japanese volunteers who were living in Taiwan donated it to Tokyo to commemorate the wedding of Showa. They brought over ‘the good trees’ and built it here.
We stroll around a bit more and find a nice bridge that crosses to a mini island in a pond then make our way towards the west entrance. It’s a nice covered path and people are out running along it. We pass by a group of photographers with telephoto lenses. We can’t make out what they’re looking at in the trees. Bird watchers?
We cross over a small walkway and there are trees that have roots reaching up from the ground looking like zombie hands.
This was nice. Really pleasant park away from the noise of the city. A peaceful and relaxing we to defrag from almost a days worth of travel.
We exit back into the streets and decide to continue our city walk over to Yoyogi park with the Meiji Shrine in it.