09 May 2015

Japan 2014 - Day 3 - Around Tokyo

For breakfast we headed to a nearby bakery where we purchased a couple of cronuts - a cross between a doughnut and a croissant...quite yummy in fact.

First we headed to the Edo Museum - a museum that tells the story of Tokyo. I didn't take many photos there but it was interesting to learn about the development of Tokyo. Edo is the old name for Tokyo, which means estuary, for a city which developed at the estuary of the Sumida river. It became Tokyo (east capital) in 1868 when the city became the imperial capital of Japan. The museum has reconstructions of many old elements of Tokyo such as the Nihonbashi Bridge, homes from various periods, shops and a kabuki theatre. It also tells the story of the lives of ordinary people, crafts people etc. throughout the history of the city, including during World War II. It was interesting to see and difficult to photograph.

Whilst it was November and we had been anticipating autumnal weather, we were amazingly lucky to  be blessed with particularly warm weather on most days...with temperatures often rising to 20 degrees, which meant lots of opportunity to be outdoors..so after we had visited the Edo Museum we headed towards Shinjuku to visit some of the department stores and the Shinjuku Gyoen National Gardens to see if there were any autumn colours - oh and to see how Japanese stores do Christmas. 

In Isetan the theme for Christmas 2014 was very definitely Scandinavian, with herd of reindeer painted on shop windows and walls and Sami people inside. 

We frequently went to the food halls of department stores to buy our lunch...a bento box full of wonderful tasty morsels that we could eat outside. Mine contained rice in little egg/omelette holders enjoyed in Shinjuku Gyoen Park. 

Andrea's lunch was a little more varied...with pickled vegetables and rice...colourful, tasty and healthy. 

Shinjuku Gyoen is 59 hectares of parkland in the city, created by the Naito family in 1772, becoming a botanical gardens and then an imperial gardens in 1879. The garden had to be rebuilt after World War II.  

The garden is busiest during "hanami" season, cherry blossom, and the last time I visited was during spring and the park was full of people enjoying the cherry and plum blossom...offering the chance to take beautiful photos....

Autumn was quieter but there was still beauty in the garden. It appears that November is chrysanthemum season....and of course the chrysanthemum is the national flower of Japan and the Japanese monarchy is known as the chrysanthemum throne. The flower is cherished in Japan and many of the temples and gardens host chrysanthemum festivals in the autumn. I certainly didn't know that there were so many types of chrysanthemum and it was amazing to see them. In Shinjuku Gyoen Park there was a walk around the gardens following the chrysanthemum trail, seeing all the different types of the flower at their best.

A waterfall of chrysanthemum....

This amazing floral display comes from one stem...can you believe that this is possible. It is called the ozukuri bed....it takes a year for one root division to produce hundreds of dome shaped flowers using a unique technique of pinching and shaping. 

This is an okigu bed, large flowered chrysanthemums which saw 311 plants laid out in diagonal stripes in an order traditional only in Shinjuku Gyoen.

The rest of the park is also beautiful, with neatly clipped pine trees and little bridges crossing ponds full of Koi carp....

This is the same view as above in cherry blossom season with a hint of autumn colours.


Bethany said...

Wow!!!! That is just beautiful!!! I never knew that the chrysanthemum was Japan's national flower. And the varieties are gorgeous. I love how they take the effort and patience to create these beds by just pinching and shaping the flowers. It's like bonsai -- very slow, meditative types of activities. Thank you for sharing all of this! I always learn so much from your posts. Hope you're having a good day today too!

Thimbleanna said...

Wow! Those flowers are unbelievable!!! Your pictures are just beautiful -- I'll bet it was a fantastic view in real life! It's also fun to see the trees in two very different seasons. I'm sure having fun on this tour of Japan!!!

Kelleyn Rothaermel said...

Each locations is more spectacular than the other.