Tokyo is beautiful and there is no denying that in my mind, not after today. It started badly when the inconsiderate arsehole next to me didn’t turn their alarm off for 45 minutes as it vibrated against the wall next to my head. That wasn’t great. It managed to improve itself after that though. The complimentary breakfast was basic, but filled me so a job well done there Emblem Hostel. I didn’t set out till 10.30am for two reasons – my phone/gopro needed charging and I wanted to make sure to avoid the morning peak. I was successful with both, thanks for asking.
Today was an improvement on yesterday’s debacle…I didn’t get lost! Not once. I manoeuvred my way across multiple lines and stations with ease. To anyone who is going to Japan I have to say it is definitely recommended you get yourself a prepaid travel card – I bought myself a Pasmo on the first night and it’s so convenient. You can use it to buy things at shops as well so that’s a plus. If you’re an Australian think of it like a gocard, only not shit.
I set out today determined to go investigate the majesty of the Imperial Palace – so my target was Tokyo Station. That was a breeze to get to, the only hiccup I had was that it was Friday…note to everyone else, the Palace is shut on Fridays. This slowed me down for a second; I had a hankering for some beautiful gardens, tall buildings, and awe-inspiring shrines so I altered my course to head for Shinjuku.
Shinjuku is another easy place to find via the train, a few more minutes and I was at a place that was actually open today – huzzah. I chose to walk from the station to the Shinjuku Gyoen Park (Exit through the South East for the quickest route) and I’m not upset I did. I snapped a photo of a Japanese cinema… A CINEMA!!!
It’s a fairly straight forward (literally) walk to the park and you can’t miss it as these wonderful trees start to appear in amongst the towering skyscrapers and shopping malls. Eventually the park reveals itself and I had to stop and stare for a second. I thought I would have missed most of Autumn and the beautiful colours Japan has to offer, but I was wrong. The yellows, and oranges, and blood reds combined with the deep greens were enough to leave me dumbstruck for a moment. The ground is caked with layers of fallen yellowy orange leaves and with each gust of wind more follow making the entire park seem as if it has come alive at once. Now, it’s not free, unlike some parks – it cost 200 yen to enter – but I have to say that it’s worth it and then some.
Making my way through the park was a pleasure. Everyone is quiet and seem to be reflective because that’s just what power the park seems to have over you. I had bought myself a bento box on the way to the park and I was now spoilt for choice as to where to enjoy it. I chose this view…
That lake is full of coy by the way, big ones.
After wandering around for the majority of two hours I knew I needed a caffeine hit, and to move on in order to see everything by days end. So back to Shinjuku station and beyond towards the Tokyo Metropolitan Building and the Shinjuku Central Park.
It’s a decent walk to get there, but definitely save yourself the $$$ and do it you’ll see all sorts of gizmos and gadgets. It also makes it more awe inspiring when you round bend and the gigantic towers of the TMB appear before you. I asked a kindly old policeman where to go (not all the buildings have observation decks), and he didn’t speak a word of English so I politely left him to his work – I think we were both as relived as the other that the encounter ended abruptly. In building you could choose to view everything via the North or South decks, I chose North as it seemed less packed, and as it turns out I was spot on. There was hardly anyone up there and what a sight to behold!
Best part is this is all totally free!!!
After I had my fun returned to Earth and went and sat in the Shinjuku Central Park with a coffee and put my feet up. This park is free entry but I have to say it’s not as nice as the Shinjuku Gyoen. The highlight was watching a women struggle to put a diaper on her Pomeranian after it had already filled up her carry around poop bag…
After resting my feet I felt it was time to make my way towards the Meiji-Jingu Shrine which is highly toted by practically everything to do with Tokyo sightseeing (It’s another freebie for all you cheapos out there). It’s a Shinto Shrine and regardless of it’s recent restoration it’s quite lovely. Now I approached from the Central Park and entered the Meiji park via the Pony Club entrance and I would recommend you do the same. There was one other couple walking near me as I took in the scenery, but as I was soon to find out, entry via most other gates involves throngs and throngs of human beings which is a shame because it takes away from the majesty of it. It was a peaceful walk, and a scenic walk for the majority of the way.
I watched a Japanese man perform the sacred Shinto water rite before entering and the deliberate patience of it was impressive. The shrine itself is lovely, but as is the case with most major attractions the people get in the way of it all. I did however absolutely adore the Meiji Inner garden. I barely made it in before final admissions but I am so glad I did jog that final stretch to make it. There was only one other couple in the entire garden and this garden was mesmerising. It’s 500 yen to enter, but assuming you can get there later in the afternoon (before 3.30pm though!!!) you might just get the garden to yourself as well.
After being shooed out by the ladies who managed the gates (I didn’t want to leave) I made my way by foot back to Shinjuku station and right back on home. All in all most of what I did today cost me very little, but things I did pay for I do not regret. It’s a breath of fresh air when you find such beautiful things hidden in amongst the concrete, loud noises, and neon lights.
I can’t wait to see what tomorrow has in store!