Day Three in Tokyo: Shinjuku and Harajuku

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Following a day spent mostly in Shibuya, we headed for Shinjuku. After my friend found Takashimaya Times Square, I left her to browse while I set off for the Shinjuku Gyoen National Gardens. Yes, I have a thing for parks and gardens. Slightly disappointed by the East Gardens of the Imperial Palace the day before (it was sorely lacking in color), I set my expectations pretty low for the park. After a 10 minute stroll, I found the park exactly where the police officer I'd asked had said. Easy peasy!

First up was the traditional Japanese garden ...

The setting was so surreal, like a painting in a children's storybook

There were a lot of people sitting around painting or drawing, which I thought was really nice. 

The tea house

I loved these little tuffs of shrubbery. I wanted a full-frontal photo, but there was a class of pre-schoolers or kindergarteners with their mothers picnicking -- so sweet.

The French Garden

Mothers and their children picnicking in the English Garden

Dancing trees

This greenhouse area looked very English to me too

I really enjoyed the park a lot, and it was very nice to get away from indoor shopping malls and my friend for a bit, just to be by myself and nature and be able to think and absorb. I loved how lively the park was, even in its stillness. The waves of schoolchildren running around, the handfuls of painters and artists positioned around certain parts of the park, the elderly taking their daily walks ...

One of the most interesting things about the park (and I think I would have found this to be true of other attractions as well) was the efficiency of the entrance. There was a row of vending machines selling entry tickets (a little over $2), which you put through turnstiles not unlike at a subway station. Flawless!

After this, I rejoined my friend at Takashimaya, and then we went for lunch nearby at ... guess what, another ramen place. However, I escaped the ramen this time.

Rice and chicken, tofu skin and egg over rice (about $7.50) ... this was good, and not extremely salty


I loved this bridge leading from Takashimaya to the train station ...
And Krispy Kreme is on the right!

Later that night, we went out to Harajuku, where most of the stores were already closed and I got no good photos (my phone is slowly breaking down on me).

See what I mean? This was the gate, I think.

Possibly the nicest looking Gap I've ever seen ...

We had dinner at an Italian place which was really good: I had linguine with cheese, peas, carrots and garlic, and then we went home, absolutely pooped.

Day three's impressions ... I began to notice that everything is "just so." Nothing is overly extravagant or super-sized. Most local restaurants seem to have just enough room to serve the neighborhood patrons, 8-10 tables at most. Everything is packaged to be just enough. There is very little waste, and I really like that. Quality over quantity ...

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