Where We Be
Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden is listed as the #1
attraction in Tokyo, and for good reason: it's a delight
Tokyo Japan -- Key Sights (Day 2)
This seems to us like the Central Park of Tokyo:
a green oasis of quiet in the midst of a teeming city
One of the prettiest areas is this traditional Japanese garden with
pond, ceremonial urns, teahouse, and gorgeous landscaping
The park is filled with mature trees, manicured lawns, winding paths, distant
skyscrapers, and enough space that bird calls far exceed motorized sounds
With a circumference of 3½ km, the park is big
enough that it has several different areas to explore
We followed along a waterway to a series of connected ponds and streams,
enjoying wonderful views – especially this shrine on the edge of a pond
We happened upon this rose garden at the height of the blooming season
From Shinjuku Gyoen we walked to Meiji Jingu. The people of Japan donated over 100,000 trees
to plant in this park in honor of their beloved Emperor Meiji, making for an awesome oasis in the city.
At the heart of the park is the Shinto shrine itself, bracketed by
two of the most symmetrical and enormous trees we’ve ever seen
A deep drum called us to a formal ceremony, where we watched two traditionally
clad men paying their respects at the inner sanctuary. Check out those shoes!
We saw many "ema" hanging here -- small wooden plaques
on which worshippers write their prayers or wishes
Ema up close -- including one with a smiling kitten. Common wishes include
success in work or on exams, marital bliss, to have children, and good health.
We loved seeing these colorful barrels of sake wrapped
in straw. Taken as a group, they become a work of art.
This gives some perspective on just how large the barrels are. They're offered
every year to show the deep respect of the people for the emperor and empress.
We continued walking to the Harajuku area, where young teens are known to strut
their stuff in the craziest outfits and latest styles -- especially on Takeshita Street
Fashion stores cater to a young crowd here, and teens are known for sometimes dressing up as their
favorite anime characters. We mostly saw teens wearing cute outfits, like this girl with kitten leggings.
This narrow street is jam-packed with vendors selling
every possible type of food and trinket imaginable
We headed all the way across the city by subway to the fashionable Asakusa district
to the northeast. The highlight was walking along ultra-crowded Nakamise Dori street.
We were amazed at the crowds of people visiting, most of them Japanese. They washed their hands
ceremonially at a fountain, threw coins into a grate as offerings, and took just as many photos as we did.
We enjoyed seeing their smiles as they wafted incense
towards themselves from an incense burner
Nakamise Dori leads straight to Sensoji Temple, the oldest temple in Tokyo. Built in the mid 600s
(and rebuilt after World War II), it has remained a center of culture and worship to this day.
Some Japanese dress up in their finest kimonos when
visiting Sensoji Temple and the surrounding grounds
Our second day of sightseeing in downtown
Tokyo took in four main sights:

Shinjuku Gyoen Garden. This gorgeous garden
feels as central to Tokyo as Central Park does
to New York. Bird calls far exceed motors here.
If we lived in Tokyo we'd walk here every day.
No wonder this is listed as #1 on TripAdvisor.

Meiji Shrine. In the 1920s the people of Japan
donated over 100,000 trees to plant in this park
in honor of their beloved Emperor Meiji. At the
shrine we watched a formal Shinto ceremony.

Harejuku District. Young teens strut their stuff
here in the craziest outfits and latest styles.

Asakusa. Nakamise Dori is a narrow street
jam-packed with vendors selling every kind of
food and trinket imaginable. The street leads
straight to Sensoji Temple, the oldest in Tokyo.
Lovely Japanese maples
One of our favorite things about Japan is the
quiet attention to and appreciation of detail