The Imperial Gardens in Tokyo
We got a taxi to the Imperial Gardens (which was very silly, as the underground is a fraction of the price, safe and clean and would have delivered us to Hibiya station in less time. But we’re tourists – knowing things takes time). We passed the Nijubashhi, which is a stone bridge over the river, and used to be the main entrance. Lots of people were taking photos, so we did too, assuming this was a famous landmark.
We walked to the park entrance, which seemed like a long way in the hot sun, and there weren’t many signs, but we found it eventually. I was glad I had worn comfy shoes (will not repeat Husband’s feedback comments).
We were issued with tickets, which were free, and had to be returned at the end (am not entirely sure of their purpose).
The gardens were a mix of huge walls (the Japanese are very good at walls) and random buildings. We passed a restroom, which is NOT a washroom, but rather a shady area to sit and rest. Most Japanese gardens seem to have them. They have vending machines (everywhere in Japan has vending machines) and seating, sometimes people remove their shoes to enter, and they are generally quiet. I like them.
The gardens were also, at times, startlingly beautiful. I imagine that during different seasons, various areas would become more lovely. It is a garden you need to visit throughout the year. There were several trees that were bandaged and supported by posts, trimmed and encouraged to grow into the desired shape. Trees in Japan are also beautiful.
We went into an old guard’s barracks. We had to remove our shoes, and were provided with a plastic bag to carry them. A man seemed to be employed for the sole purpose of taking the plastic bags from the ‘finished’ bin, folding them, and replacing them in the ‘to use’ bin. I am not at all sure why we needed to remove our shoes. The barracks was rebuilt, and had a modern lino floor, so preservation wasn’t an issue. It was where the soldiers lived, not died, so I don’t think it had any sacred significance. Perhaps it was for cleanliness reasons – Japanese people are very clean.
The following day (after an almost completely sleepless night – jetlag is horrible) we returned to another park in the same area. This time we went by underground. I am not convinced that Husband read the scale on the map properly, but perhaps I was just tired. After walking for about 6 hours, we found the entrance. I was not really in the mood for wandering around a park, so we went straight to the park cafe for lunch.
We ordered burgers and cokes, using our pointing and gesturing method. Japanese people all seem to be very polite and helpful, and they cope very well with people who speak no Japanese at all. The burger was really nice, very fresh, and served with salad (not the mushy slime you tend to get in the UK). Portions are smaller than in England – it would be easier to be healthier here I think. Lots of areas are for jogging, and we saw several runners.
We then realised we had seen most of the park on our way to the restaurant. It wasn’t huge. We wandered around for a while, and found some shady tracks through trees, saw a couple of rest areas (vending machines and seats) and walked to a viewpoint over a river (somewhat marred by the massive flyover). Then we gave up, and went back to the hotel.
Tokyo is beginning to grow on me. The people are very polite, and friendly and helpful. When we are confused, people will stop, and ask if we need help. Everywhere is very clean, and it feels very safe. We saw people jogging around the parks, and they had left a bag with their belongings in, on a bench. Bikes are left unlocked. In restaurants and trains, people will leave their things – even mobile phones – on their seats while they order food or go to the washroom. No one seems to steal here, it is rather nice, how you feel society ought to be. We have not seen a single homeless person or beggar, which is very rare in a major city. Are there no homeless people in Japan?
I look forward to discovering more as we explore a little further.
Thank you for reading.