Day 3 in Japan: The Imperial Gardens and Shinjuku

Today was a day of much walking in Japan, as we explored the Imperial Palace grounds, the Imperial East Gardens, Shinjuku (a huge shopping district), and generally got our feel for the city of Tokyo.

We’re off to hit the early morning Tsukiji Fish Market, so this will be a brief post, but we wanted to get the pictures out there. An important fact we learned yesterday: Neither of us likes shopping. Ha.

* We first went to a park that’s about a mile from our hotel and quite big. It had some old temples and a beautiful lake with lily pads, huge koi, different turtle species, and happy people. There was even a guy feeding sparrows that would fly to his hand!

* We caught the subway to the Imperial Palace Gardens, the East side, which is supposed to be the most impressive. The whole palace is surrounded by a huge moat and huge stone walls. The garden was really pretty, but we were both a little disappointed because we’ve been to palace gardens in different parts of Europe and it’s not quite impressive, but still quite beautiful. And more koi! I took some pictures of information on how the wall was built and restored — it was quite an impressive wall. We also saw a snake on the ground around the moat — not sure what kind of snake it was, but it was pretty big.

* We then walked around a shopping area near the palace (this was all in the Ginza region of Tokyo). We went to the International Forum, a big stadium and events center that is hoping to host the 2016 Olympics. It’s famous for it’s big glass walls (no pictures). We then went to the Sony Building, which is about 8 floors tall and features all the latest gadgets and techie toys by Sony. Again, we took no pictures, but Andrew did have fun looking at their new super-thin and flexible TV screens with the OLED technology.

* We headed to the Shinjuku region of Tokyo next — another big shopping district. There were lots of claw machines there to distract Teisha, so that was fun. We wandered into the Red Light District, Kabukicho, which was quite explicit in the services offered behind the doors, but we did not go into any shops (there are about four pictures of this area — me near a poster followed by three of the street corners). It’s the first area of Tokyo I’ve felt I wouldn’t want to venture in when it’s dark out. It was quite strange to have some of these shops right next to arcades, which in the U.S. we associate with kids, but here are mostly filled with adults playing all different games and doing gambling as well.

* In Shinjuku we also visited a huge book store, called Kinokuniya, that had 8+ floors of books. We went to the foreign language floor and the kid’s floor and found it even difficult to read the children’s books! But it was fun.

* Lastly in Shinjuku, we stumbled upon a “pet store” — they only had some puppies and kittens in cages out on the street (no real inside part of the shop). It was quite sad. (One picture of Teisha out front.)

* There’s also a picture of a little flower shop near our hotel, mostly for Teisha’s mom to see what they look like here 🙂

* Lastly, there’s a picture of a busy intersection right next to the Ueno station, a few blocks from our hotel.


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