Friday, June 25, 2010

The Best of Tokyo - Gardens, Markets & Temples

Despite the towering buildings that crowd Tokyo city, pockets of green oasis can be found to get away from the crowds. Located alongside Tokyo Bay and within walking distance from Tsukiji Market, the Hama Rikyu is a wonderful garden to visit for a change of scenery. It also has historical significance as it was once the garden of the shogun lords during the Edo period.

After a fresh sushi breakfast from our early morning visit to Tsukiji Market, it was very pleasant to stroll around the well-landscaped garden. The garden opens at 9am and has an entrance fee of 300 yen. The jewel in the crown in the Hama Rikyu garden is probably the historic 500 year old pine tree.

To preserve this piece of living history, support beams have been built to hold up its sprawling branches, not unlike a bent old man needing a walking stick to support his weight. With skyscrapers in the background, this is a classic example of the harmonious relationship of modern and old Tokyo.

We were thrilled to discover a cherry blossom tree that was still flowering in mid-May. We can only imagine how spectacular the garden would have looked during peak cherry blossom season...

We found a spot on a hill to enjoy the full splendour of the Hama Rikyu Garden whilst enjoying our dessert picnic of Mochi (Japanese rice cake made of glutinous rice) which we picked up from Tsukiji Market.

If you're tired from all the walking (during our entire trip, we did the most walking in Tokyo!), catch a Tokyo cruise (720 yen) from Hinode Pier to Asakusa.

Whilst, it may not be the most scenic city cruise, it is nice to give your aching feet a rest and enjoy the breeze on your face during the 40 minute ride. If you like, you can even count the number of bridges you pass (Hint: it's more than 10).

At Asakusa, we headed to the Nakamise shopping street, a delightful area for souvenier shopping and more food tasting! We even managed to pick up a treat for our beagle from one of the stalls.

The Nakamise shopping street leads to the main grounds of Sensoji Temple.

Take some time to admire the intricate designs of the lamps on the red entrance gate.

We finished off our half day outing with a late lunch at Kagetudo, a rather cramped traditional restaurant. The small interior is decorated with old pictures. Tacked on its wooden walls, bags of toys (some of them reminds me of toys from my childhood days) are for sale.

This restaurant specializes in two main items. The main meal is a selection of cold or hot udon/soba noodles with tempura.

To finish off the simple meal, try the sweet Japanese bun (similar to polo bun). All in all, good value for money and a nice way to end our half day trip to Hama Rikyu Gardens and Asakusa.

1 comment:

Cinnamon said...

Oh, your posts about your trip to Japan are so entertaining as well as practical for future tourists, not only those from overseas but also domestic travellers! (Sorry I didn't notice you were writing a series of posts about your recent trip until today.) I lived in Tokyo and a neighbouring city for more than fifteen years in total, but I have never been inside the Tsukiji market or Hama Rikyu garden. I terribly miss that bun with melon flavour!!

Cinnamon's Mum