Archives for: Tokyo Parks

The Institute for Nature Study in Tokyo

Eidan and Maria at the Tokyo Institute for Nature Study
Eidan and Maria at the Tokyo Institute for Nature Study23-May-2007 16:43, Canon Canon PowerShot S230, 2.8, 5.40625mm, 0.017 sec
Kai and Maria at the Tokyo Institute for Nature Study
Kai and Maria at the Tokyo Institute for Nature Study23-May-2007 16:30, Canon Canon PowerShot S230, 2.8, 5.40625mm, 0.017 sec
Kai doing his best to look like a dufus, at the Tokyo Institute for Nature Study
Kai doing his best to look like a dufus, at the Tokyo Institute for Nature Study23-May-2007 16:30, Canon Canon PowerShot S230, 2.8, 5.40625mm, 0.017 sec
 
The grounds at the Tokyo Institute for Nature Study
The grounds at the Tokyo Institute for Nature Study23-May-2007 16:20, Canon Canon PowerShot S230, 2.8, 5.40625mm, 0.05 sec
The grounds at the Tokyo Institute for Nature Study
The grounds at the Tokyo Institute for Nature Study15-May-2007 10:22, Canon Canon PowerShot S230, 2.8, 5.40625mm, 0.006 sec
The grounds at the Tokyo Institute for Nature Study
The grounds at the Tokyo Institute for Nature Study15-May-2007 10:21, Canon Canon PowerShot S230, 2.8, 5.40625mm, 0.008 sec
 
The grounds at the Tokyo Institute for Nature Study
The grounds at the Tokyo Institute for Nature Study15-May-2007 10:18, Canon Canon PowerShot S230, 7.1, 5.40625mm, 0.008 sec
The grounds at the Tokyo Institute for Nature Study
The grounds at the Tokyo Institute for Nature Study15-May-2007 10:15, Canon Canon PowerShot S230, 2.8, 5.40625mm, 0.017 sec
 

The grounds at the Institute for Nature Study, near Meguro station in Tokyo, are unlike any other koen (park) or gyoen (garden) in the city. “It occupies a 200,000 square meter area with various original habitats of the Tokyo area, such as forest, marsh and ponds.”

The area around Meguro station is uneventful, but it’s worth the trip to visit the Institute’s grounds. Take even just a short walk from the entrance, and you’ll be immersed in a natural environment, with beautiful trees, marshes, turtles, and a variety of birds and other creatures. There’s one area with a large information board about the various birds and their songs, but unfortunately, they’re generally drowned out by the crows. Crows have been a major problem in Japan in recent years:

Blackouts are just one of the problems caused by an explosion in Japan’s population of crows, which have grown so numerous that they seem to compete with humans for space in this crowded nation [they often nest on electric poles]. Communities are scrambling to find ways to relocate or reduce their crow populations, as ever larger flocks of loud, ominous birds have taken over parks and nature reserves, frightening away residents.

It is a scourge straight out of Hitchcock, and the crows here look and act the part. With wing spans up to a yard and intimidating black beaks and sharp claws, Japan’s crows are bigger, more aggressive and downright scarier than those usually seen in North America.

Aside from the occasional crow calls, it’s a wonderfully peaceful place. The boys enjoyed it simply because it’s Nature: it’s a living, breathing, sometimes messy place, with various critters scurrying around. This makes it quite different from a place like the perfectly manicured Shinjuku Gyoen.

Visit the English page on the official site for location, hours, etc.

The Park at World City Towers

This is a re-publication of an old post. I added a bunch of pictures and some more information. Original publication date: 8/14/2007.

The Tokyo Monorail's Pokemon trainThe Tokyo Monorail's Pokemon train
The Tokyo Monorail's Pokemon train22-May-2007 10:21, Canon Canon PowerShot S230, 7.1, 5.40625mm, 0.003 sec
Eidan at the World City Tower's parkEidan at the World City Tower's park
Eidan at the World City Tower's park22-May-2007 10:12, Canon Canon PowerShot S230, 7.1, 5.40625mm, 0.003 sec
 
Eidan in the grass at the World City Tower's parkEidan in the grass at the World City Tower's park
Eidan in the grass at the World City Tower's park14-May-2007 10:15, Canon Canon PowerShot S230, 7.1, 5.40625mm, 0.006 sec
Eidan pretending to crash into posts, at the park adjacent to World City Towers in ShinagawaEidan pretending to crash into posts, at the park adjacent to World City Towers in Shinagawa
Eidan pretending to crash into posts, at the park adjacent to World City Towers in Shinagawa14-May-2007 10:35
 

The pictures above are from the park adjacent to the gargantuan World City Towers residential complex in Minato. It’s Tokyo’s largest, with 2,090 residential units. Click the bottom right picture for a video of Eidan – from Kai he learned the trick of pretending to bump into a pole and exclaiming “unh!,” as if he’d hurt himself. And here he’s doing it repeatedly. This park was a short walk from our apartment, and during the spring it was a daily destination for Eidan and I in the mornings. We’d play in the park after Maria left for work and Kai left for school, then I’d do our daily shopping at the wonderful Maruetsu grocery store. We’d go home for lunch, Eidan would nap for two hours while I worked, Kai would finish school, the three of us would go somewhere for a few hours, and then be home in time for dinner with Maria.

I enjoy doing write-ups of the parks we visited in Tokyo, but this one isn’t worth much commentary – it’s main attraction was that it was nearby. It’s a new park, and is quite large, but with only a few play structures, and an enormous, smooth gravel area in the middle. The Tokyo Monorail line runs along the edge of it. Eidan always enjoyed when the Pokemon train occasionally came by. Every morning a workman came by to empty the trashcans, and to sweep the entire gravel area with nothing more than an old fashioned Japanese broom. The one astonishing thing is that the grassy area of the park is strewn with rubble. It’s peppered with small pieces of broken concrete and tile, from the recently completed World City Towers. It’s just another idiosyncrasy of the otherwise fastidious Japanese: in so many ways they have the most exacting standards, but when it comes to parks, they’ll just throw grass seed down on top of the rubble and call it a day.

The two pictures below are from a smaller park that was across the street from our apartment in Minato. We didn’t go there much because it only had one small play structure and it tended to get very dusty (the ground around the play structure was just packed dirt, which would blow around when the weather was dry). But it was fun to see the kids from the local daycare literally get carted out for playtime.

Eidan at the park across the street from our Minato apartmentEidan at the park across the street from our Minato apartment
Eidan at the park across the street from our Minato apartment09-May-2007 09:58, Canon Canon PowerShot S230, 7.1, 5.40625mm, 0.004 sec
The kids at the local daycare in Minato getting carted out for playtimeThe kids at the local daycare in Minato getting carted out for playtime
The kids at the local daycare in Minato getting carted out for playtime09-May-2007 09:54, Canon Canon PowerShot S230, 4.0, 10.8125mm, 0.002 sec
 

The Elevated Park at the Shibuara Water Reclamation Center

I’ve been going through my pictures from our time living in Japan two years ago, and I realized there’s a lot of good stuff I never had a chance to blog about. Time permitting, I’ll have some more posts coming up about our time in Japan.

The park at the Shibuara sewage plant is nice, as long as the wind is blowing in the right directionThe park at the Shibuara sewage plant is nice, as long as the wind is blowing in the right direction
The park at the Shibuara sewage plant is nice, as long as the wind is blowing in the right direction05-May-2007 16:36, Canon Canon PowerShot S230, 7.1, 5.40625mm, 0.008 sec
It's hard to see the treatment facility from the park - I had to go behind some tall shrubs to get this pictureIt's hard to see the treatment facility from the park - I had to go behind some tall shrubs to get this picture
It's hard to see the treatment facility from the park - I had to go behind some tall shrubs to get this picture05-May-2007 16:08, Canon Canon PowerShot S230, 7.1, 5.40625mm, 0.005 sec
 

When we lived in Shinagawa, we were just a few blocks away from the Shibaura Water Reclamation Center (click to see a great aerial shot, featuring their cartoon mascot; yes, even public works facilities in Japan get cartoon mascots). Less euphemistically, it’s a sewage treatment plant. Luckily, because of the prevailing winds, we rarely smelled it (the neighborhood just north of us – near the Tamachi station – typically got the worst of its fragrances). We walked by it almost every day, and something we never noticed during our first few months living there is that it’s home to a good-sized park. The reason we didn’t notice is because the park is elevated well above street level. It’s accessed via a ramp that we just assumed went to an elevated parking area. But it’s actually a park with plenty of green grass and trees, supported by a a whole lot of concrete pillars.

It’s a truly remarkable use of an urban space that otherwise certainly would not be visited by anyone other than the plant’s employees. It has large green spaces for picnics and throwing frisbees, tennis courts, a rose garden, and several play structures and swing sets for the kids. Once we finally discovered it, Eidan and I went there several times. After you enter the park, there is no indication you’re on top of an enormous sewage treatment facility, at least as long as the winds are favorable. All along the edge of the park are tall, densely packed shrubs, hiding the vast swath of blue treatment tanks that lie beyond (to take the picture of them you see above, I had to push myself behind the shrubs and position my camera carefully through the chain link fence).

One time I went around to the main business entrance for the plant, with Eidan on the stroller. There was a small, attractive picnic area with a small koi pond right inside the open gate, so we strolled in. From there I could see an entrance to the facility itself, with several informative signs visible just beyond it, so I figured I could go in for a self-guided tour. I did, and learned a lot about sewage treatment as I stopped by each big piece of equipment doing its thing, and read its sign (all the signs were written in Japanese and English). But halfway through I ended up at the rear entrance, which was locked and had guards posted. It dawned on me at that point that I probably shouldn’t be there, so I quietly made my way back out to the main entrance with Eidan.

Directions: unless you have a real thing for neighborhood parks or sewage treatment plants it’s not really worth a special trip, but if you’re already near the Shinagawa station and you want to check it out, see the directions at the very bottom of Shibaura Water Reclamation Center web page. Or just look for Shinagawa’s most recognizable building – the NTT DoCoMo building. Coming from the Shinagawa station, the park is just past the building.

One of the explanatory signs in the Shibaura Water Reclamation CenterOne of the explanatory signs in the Shibaura Water Reclamation Center
One of the explanatory signs in the Shibaura Water Reclamation Center14-May-2007 09:54, Canon Canon PowerShot S230, 7.1, 5.40625mm, 0.003 sec
"Hamakaze no Sato" (Home to Beach Wind) - a small picnic area at the main entrance of the Shibaura Water Reclamation Center"Hamakaze no Sato" (Home to Beach Wind) - a small picnic area at the main entrance of the Shibaura Water Reclamation Center
"Hamakaze no Sato" (Home to Beach Wind) - a small picnic area at the main entrance of the Shibaura Water Reclamation Center14-May-2007 09:50, Canon Canon PowerShot S230, 2.8, 5.40625mm, 0.003 sec
Guide to the above-ground park at the Shibaura Water Reclamation CenterGuide to the above-ground park at the Shibaura Water Reclamation Center
Guide to the above-ground park at the Shibaura Water Reclamation Center05-May-2007 16:57, Canon Canon PowerShot S230, 7.1, 5.40625mm, 0.004 sec
 
A rose garden in the park at the Shibuara Water Reclamation CenterA rose garden in the park at the Shibuara Water Reclamation Center
A rose garden in the park at the Shibuara Water Reclamation Center05-May-2007 16:35, Canon Canon PowerShot S230, 2.8, 5.40625mm, 0.004 sec
The above ground park at the Shibaura Water Reclamation CenterThe above ground park at the Shibaura Water Reclamation Center
The above ground park at the Shibaura Water Reclamation Center05-May-2007 16:33, Canon Canon PowerShot S230, 3.5, 9.28125mm, 0.004 sec
The Shibuara Water Reclamation CenterThe Shibuara Water Reclamation Center
The Shibuara Water Reclamation Center05-May-2007 16:33, Canon Canon PowerShot S230, 7.1, 5.40625mm, 0.005 sec
 

Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden

Shinjuku Gyoen National Park in April 2007Shinjuku Gyoen National Park in April 2007
Shinjuku Gyoen National Park in April 200712-Apr-2007 14:47, Canon Canon PowerShot S230, 7.1, 5.40625mm, 0.008 sec
 

I noticed that it’s been so long since I wrote about Japan that I no longer have any Japan posts on my front page, and we can’t have that (I’m not counting the Japaridelphia post). With temperatures well below freezing tonight in Philadelphia, a look back at some nice spring weather in Tokyo is in order. Undoubtedly one of the most beautiful spots in Tokyo, Shinjuku Gyoen is one of just a few places I took the time to visit more than once during our 5 month stay.

The gardens which are 58.3 hectares in size, and with a circumference of 3.5 km, blend three distinct styles: French Formal, English Landscape and Japanese traditional. The gardens have more than 20,000 trees, including approximately 1,500 cherry trees which bloom from late March (Shidare or Weeping Cherry), to early April (Somei or Tokyo Cherry), and on to late April (Kanzan Cherry). Other trees found here include the majestic Himalayan cedars, which soar above the rest of the trees in the park, tulip trees, cypresses, and plane trees, which were first planted in Japan in the Imperial Gardens… The gardens are a favourite hanami (cherry-blossom viewing) spot, and large crowds can be found in the park during cherry blossom season… The greenhouse… has a stock of over 1,700 tropical and subtropical plant species on permanent display.

Unfortunately I went too early in the season to see the French and English gardens in their glory, but the rest of the park is spectacular in the early spring. It’s acre upon acre of well manicured, immaculate, perfectionist-fetish Japanese landscaping at its finest. Each time I went I had just a couple of hours for my visit, but the park is huge and you could easily spend a very pleasant, relaxing day exploring it.

It’s one of the few public parks in Tokyo that charges an admission fee (200 yen – about $2). They don’t allow people to use frisbees, balls, etc. and no pets are allowed (most parks are referring to as koen, but this one is a gyoen – an Imperial garden). But you can bring a picnic, there’s a restaurant, two tea houses, and at least one snack bar.

If you’d like to visit, check out the Shinjuku Gyoen official web site (English version). For some reason the site doesn’t come up when you do a Google search, which is unfortunate, because it has by far the best map and access guide. To get there, the easiest route for most tourists will be to take the Yamanote line to Shinjuku station and go out the South exit. This is the world’s busiest train station and the the world’s second largest, but don’t be intimidated – just follow the prominent English signs. Turn downhill when you come out of the station. You won’t see the Gyoen entrance at first, but just a minute after you cross the intersection with Meiji-Dori Ave, you’ll see the Shinjuku Gate entrance ahead of you.

Shinjuku Gyoen National Park in April 2007
Shinjuku Gyoen National Park in April 200712-Apr-2007 14:39, Canon Canon PowerShot S230, 7.1, 5.40625mm, 0.005 sec
Shinjuku Gyoen National Park in April 2007
Shinjuku Gyoen National Park in April 200712-Apr-2007 14:56, Canon Canon PowerShot S230, 2.8, 5.40625mm, 0.003 sec
 
Shinjuku Gyoen National Park in April 2007
Shinjuku Gyoen National Park in April 200712-Apr-2007 15:43, Canon Canon PowerShot S230, 2.8, 5.40625mm, 0.01 sec
Shinjuku Gyoen National Park in April 2007
Shinjuku Gyoen National Park in April 200712-Apr-2007 15:48, Canon Canon PowerShot S230, 3.5, 7.96875mm, 0.004 sec
 

Sakura Zaka Koen, AKA Robot Park

As promised, I’m going to keep blogging about Japan for a while, even though I’m back in the US now. I have a big backlog of things to write about. However, while Maria is still in Japan and I’m at home taking care of the boys and working, my posts for the next few weeks will probably be longer on pictures and shorter on words, as I don’t have a lot of time to write.

The many slides of Robot Park. That's Maria in the blue jacket, with Eidan next to her.The many slides of Robot Park. That’s Maria in the blue jacket, with Eidan next to her.
The many slides of Robot Park. That's Maria in the blue jacket, with Eidan next to her.07-Apr-2007 14:08, Canon Canon PowerShot S230, 2.8, 5.40625mm, 0.002 sec
 
Kai and Kento riding the robots at Robot ParkKai and Kento riding the robots at Robot Park
Kai and Kento riding the robots at Robot Park07-Apr-2007 14:06, Canon Canon PowerShot S230, 2.8, 5.40625mm, 0.003 sec
 

Sakura Zaka Koen is a tiny gem of a park, tucked away on a small street a short walk from the mind-bogglingly massive 27 acre, $4 billion Roppongi Hills shopping and entertainment complex (you can see the exact location on this map). It’s a ridiculously small park, but packed with slides. It’s nice that some space was made for it, given that the area is home to some of the most expensive real estate in Tokyo.

The play structures at Japanese parks are typically old, rickety, and dangerous, which makes them a striking contrast to everything else in Japan. So Robot Park is unusual for a Tokyo playground in that everything is new, and it was designed with safety in mind: most of the ground is covered with a giant rubberized mat, and all the slides are contoured plastic. The only thing remotely dangerous is the long roller slide. These kinds of slides are common in Tokyo but rare in the US (the slide is covered with little rolling pins, so you need to be careful with little fingers and long hair).

The robot theme also gives it real charm. We visited for an hour or so with Maria’s friend Shiho and her son Kento. The boys loved it, as it provided a nice break from our strolling through Roppongi.

Robot totem pole at Robot ParkRobot totem pole at Robot Park
Robot totem pole at Robot Park07-Apr-2007 14:07, Canon Canon PowerShot S230, 2.8, 5.40625mm, 0.002 sec
Kai and Eidan on the long slide at Robot ParkKai and Eidan on the long slide at Robot Park
Kai and Eidan on the long slide at Robot Park07-Apr-2007 14:46, Canon Canon PowerShot S230, 2.8, 5.40625mm, 0.005 sec
 

Tire Park

Kai took this picture of me on the tire dinosaurKai took this picture of me on the tire dinosaur
Kai took this picture of me on the tire dinosaur16-May-2007 15:36, Canon Canon PowerShot S230, 7.1, 5.40625mm, 0.003 sec
 
Kai in the biggest tire at the parkKai in the biggest tire at the park
Kai in the biggest tire at the park16-May-2007 15:25, Canon Canon PowerShot S230, 2.8, 5.40625mm, 0.004 sec
 
More of Tire Park
More of Tire Park16-May-2007 15:29, Canon Canon PowerShot S230, 4.0, 10.8125mm, 0.003 sec
 
Tire Park, near Kamata Station, Tokyo
Tire Park, near Kamata Station, Tokyo16-May-2007 15:09, Canon Canon PowerShot S230, 7.1, 5.40625mm, 0.003 sec
 
Eidan was more interested in playing in the sand than the tires
Eidan was more interested in playing in the sand than the tires16-May-2007 15:37, Canon Canon PowerShot S230, 2.8, 5.40625mm, 0.003 sec
 
Kai on a pile of tires at the bottom of one of the big slides. Kids ride the tires down the slide.
Kai on a pile of tires at the bottom of one of the big slides. Kids ride the tires down the slide.16-May-2007 15:07, Canon Canon PowerShot S230, 7.1, 5.40625mm, 0.006 sec
 

Wednesdays are short days for Kai at school, so I usually try to plan an outing for the boys on Wednesday afternoons. Last week I took them to Tire Park:

This playground, covered completely with sand, is filled with big tires in every combination: dinosaurs reaching to the sky, tire “monsters,” regular and tire swings, bridges, slides, climbing equipment, and loose tires lying everywhere for free play.

The moment we arrived, Kai was off like a shot. He went straight for the giant cement slide, where the kids grab loose tires from the pile at the bottom, go up the stairs on the side, and then slide down on their chosen tires. Eidan was a bit more hesitant, as the multitude of kids running all around was probably a bit overwhelming for him at first. He eventually relaxed and enjoyed himself, but was much more interested in playing in the sand than with the tires.

What makes parks like this in Japan such fun is that they’re so dangerous. You can look at each play area and climbing structure and imagine a dozen different ways bones could be broken. You don’t see places like this in the US (not for the past few decades anyway). But take away America’s lawsuit happy culture, and add in parents who take responsibility for their kids, and then parks like this become plausible. My feet managed to find toeholds on the stacked tires that made up the park’s giant dinosaur, and I climbed about 20ft off the ground; Kai ventured about half as high.

After about 90 minutes of running around like a monkey and climbing on everything, Kai suddenly stopped and coolly declared, “I’m bored, let’s go home.” By then I was also finding it increasingly difficult to keep Eidan away from other kids’ sand toys, so we went to McDonald’s for dinner (the boys’ favorite). Then I took them home to start getting them cleaned up and ready for bed. Mission accomplished.

The Tokyo Families article provides clear directions:

Train: From Shinagawa station, take the Keihin Tohuko line to Kamata station. Take the west exit and then turn left, walking through Tokyu Plaza. Keeping to the left, follow alongside the tracks and walk straight for 10-15 minutes. Just past the driving school, the park is on your right. NOTE: Bring a stroller for younger kids, as the walk back to the station afterwards might be too much for them. Some side street parking is also available.

I recommend taking a cab from Kamata station to the park. Even if you don’t speak Japanese, all you have to say to the driver is “Tiya koen kudasai” (tire park please). It’s easy to find taxis at the station, but you’re not likely to find one to take you back from the park, so you’ll almost definitely be walking back. This way the kids only have to walk one way.

It’s Cherry Blossom Season

You can’t blog from Japan in the Spring and not have a post about cherry blossoms, so here you go. I took the first two pictures in Shimizudani Park last week. It’s across the street from the New Otani hotel, where my mother and step-father stayed while visiting us last week. It’s a small but nice park, a short walk from the Imperial Palace, in Chiyoda-ku. The last picture is from the waterfront in Asakusa. The first nice weekend after the blossoms appear is a traditional time for the Japanese to have a picnic and drink beer under the cherry trees.

Cherry blossoms floating on the pond in Shimizudani Park
Cherry blossoms floating on the pond in Shimizudani Park01-Apr-2007 16:47, Canon Canon PowerShot S230, 2.8, 5.40625mm, 0.017 sec
Cherry trees in Shimizudani Park
Cherry trees in Shimizudani Park01-Apr-2007 16:48, Canon Canon PowerShot S230, 2.8, 5.40625mm, 0.01 sec
Cherry blossoms on the waterfront in Asakusa. The first nice weekend after the blossoms come out is a traditional time for the Japanese to picnic under the cherry trees.
Cherry blossoms on the waterfront in Asakusa. The first nice weekend after the blossoms come out is a traditional time for the Japanese to picnic under the cherry trees.31-Mar-2007 13:09, Canon Canon PowerShot S230, 2.8, 5.40625mm, 0.006 sec
 

Dad’s Day Off #2, Part 2: A Day in Fukagawa

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Dad’s Day Off #2, Part 1: A Day in Fukagawa

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Kichijoji, Inokashira Park, and the Ghibli Museum

The Inokashira Park shrine is dedicated to Benzaiten, the Goddess of property, good-looks, entertainment and love.The Inokashira Park shrine is dedicated to Benzaiten, the Goddess of property, good-looks, entertainment and love.
The Inokashira Park shrine is dedicated to Benzaiten, the Goddess of property, good-looks, entertainment and love.21-Feb-2007 00:43, Canon Canon PowerShot S230, 2.8, 5.40625mm, 0.003 sec
 

We’ve made two trips to Kichijoji in the past week. It’s about a 40 minute journey on the trains, but it’s worth it, as it’s a great place to spend time with the boys. Yesterday Kai had a short day at school, and the first plum blossoms of the year greeted us at Kichijoji’s Inokashira Park (they look similar to cherry blossoms, but plum trees bloom even earlier). There were about a dozen photographers there, with their high-powered cameras to capture the moment.

We came to the same spot last week, and the boys loved playing near the park’s lake. Given all the time we’ve spent in a completely urban environment, they were thrilled to be surrounded by water, trees, and birds. Eidan literally spent an hour just throwing leaves and rocks in the water, and Kai spent the same amount of time building bridging with sticks, and harassing a turtle that was trying to bask peacefully in the sun. They did the same exact thing in our visit yesterday (but the turtle wasn’t there this time).

Near the far end of the park is the Ghibli Museum, which is a favorite spot for kids (Ghibli movies are to Japan what Disney movies are to the US, although the museum is much more modest than a Disney Land). Normally you have to buy tickets in advance, but it wasn’t crowded on this winter weekday, so I was able to get in with the boys. Unfortunately they don’t allow taking pictures in any of the museum’s indoor areas, but I have some good exterior photos (see below) and this website has good pictures of the inside.

The park also has a modest zoo. It’s inexpensive and most of the animal cages are easily viewed from a toddler’s height, making it nice for little ones. Kai particularly enjoyed the playground, as it wasn’t old and rundown like most playgrounds in Tokyo (the decrepitness and dirtiness of many Tokyo playgrounds stand in jarring contrast to the overall modernity and cleanliness of the city).

Kichijoji station has to be the best smelling train station I’ve ever been in. It’s packed with cake, cookie, and dessert shops – you can’t get out of the station without your mouth watering.

The park is on the south side of the station. On the north side is Sun Road, which is a roughly two block area filled with small shops. It’s not as gargantuan as Tokyo’s more famous shopping areas, but I really liked it. Most of the shops were specialty stores (one was nothing but socks and stockings, another focused on bento sets for kids’ school lunches, etc.), so browsing was fun.

Just off of sun road is a I-Setan department store, which has a toy store on the 5th floor that’s unusual for Tokyo, in that there are several play areas for the kids (that’s common in US toy stores, but much harder to find here), so Eidan particularly enjoyed visiting there.

Both times we’ve gone to Kichijoji I’ve intended to visit Kichijoji 0123, which is a play hall designed specifically for the 3 and under crowd. But both times we’ve been having so much fun in the other places nearby that we’ve never made it there. Maybe next time.

Eidan in a lego car at the I-Setan toy store, in Kichijoji
Eidan in a lego car at the I-Setan toy store, in Kichijoji20-Feb-2007 23:32, Canon Canon PowerShot S230, 2.8, 5.40625mm, 0.017 sec
Another shot of Eidan in the lego car
Another shot of Eidan in the lego car20-Feb-2007 23:32, Canon Canon PowerShot S230, 2.8, 5.40625mm, 0.017 sec
A hat store on Sun Road in Kichijoji. Knowing what "Shazbot" means (without looking it up on Wikipedia!) marks you as a child of early 80s American television.
A hat store on Sun Road in Kichijoji. Knowing what "Shazbot" means (without looking it up on Wikipedia!) marks you as a child of early 80s American television.21-Feb-2007 00:02, Canon Canon PowerShot S230, 2.8, 5.40625mm, 0.013 sec
 
The first plum blossoms of the year in Inokashira Park. This park is also popular spot for hanami (cherry blossom viewing) in the Spring.
The first plum blossoms of the year in Inokashira Park. This park is also popular spot for hanami (cherry blossom viewing) in the Spring.28-Feb-2007 01:13, Canon Canon PowerShot S230, 2.8, 5.40625mm, 0.003 sec
Statues near the Benzaiten shrine in Inokashira park.
Statues near the Benzaiten shrine in Inokashira park.21-Feb-2007 01:22, Canon Canon PowerShot S230, 3.5, 9.28125mm, 0.017 sec
Kai in the playground at the Inokashira Park Zoo.
Kai in the playground at the Inokashira Park Zoo.21-Feb-2007 02:16, Canon Canon PowerShot S230, 2.8, 5.40625mm, 0.005 sec
 
Kai at the Ghibli Museum
Kai at the Ghibli Museum28-Feb-2007 01:27, Canon Canon PowerShot S230, 2.8, 5.40625mm, 0.003 sec
Kai with the Laputa robot, at the Ghibli Museum
Kai with the Laputa robot, at the Ghibli Museum28-Feb-2007 02:28, Canon Canon PowerShot S230, 2.8, 5.40625mm, 0.003 sec
View from the roof of the Ghibli Museum. The museum's architecture matches the style of the buildings often seen in Miyazaki's films.
View from the roof of the Ghibli Museum. The museum's architecture matches the style of the buildings often seen in Miyazaki's films.28-Feb-2007 02:30, Canon Canon PowerShot S230, 2.8, 5.40625mm, 0.002 sec
 
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