Day 10 – Tokyo

More photos on Flickr and Instagram

You may recall we tried to visit the Imperial Gardens a few days ago but got there too late to enter. We decided to return today and spent several hours there, until closing time. 

We used the subway of course, but this was the first time we didn’t already have a day pass (this hotel did not have them). We knew how to get where we wanted to go, we just needed a ticket. We looked over the options on the machines as best we could, comparing them to what we had used (a tourist oriented day pass), but couldn’t find what we needed. My wife went over to the attendant nearby and asked for help. He waived her off like he didn’t want to be bothered (I’m sure he didn’t). After a moment, I went over and asked the same thing and the attendant came out and helped us through buying the pass. Hmmm. We knew that obviously there are not only different lines in the system, but there is also more than one subway company. If you don’t buy a combo ticket and need to use a segment of that other company’s line, you would need to buy a separate ticket. So we opted for the combo ticket, not knowing what we’d need.Time to move on.

Subways are modern and efficient, eady to navigate

During the week, some lines appear to run ladies only trains.

When we surfaced at the Otemachi station, the Tokyo Marathon was ending at that point, with the stragglers finishing up. Though, they were still coming into the finish line when we came back out of the Imperial Gardens, hours later.

The outside perimeter of the gardens and the Imperial compound  are defined by a wide moat (15km). Consistent with this being the former location of the Edo castle, where the Shogun was protected by his army of Samurai, there are only a few entrances into the gardens. The castle grounds were even larger in the Edo period.

Otemachi gate

Sunday is a popular day to visit. The gardens weren’t crowded, but were busy. Entrance was free. You are only allowed to visit the eastern gardens, as the rest of the Imperial palace grounds and gardens are closed (except twice a year).

The Imperial Palace was not visible from the portion of the gardens we visited. The palace was built on the ruins of the Edo castle built in 1457 and in use until the 1873 fire that destroyed it. The history is outlined here.

The cherry trees were in bloom, as were the Camelia trees (bushes as large as trees) and a few other flowering trees.

The non-flowering trees are just about ready to bloom. If you look at the buds on the trees, they’re ready to burst open in a few weeks. I imagine it will be a real explosion of color and blooms.

You have to look at the blocks forming the massive walls. Each block in the wall is massive and well fitted to the other blocks, without any obvious supports. You can only imagine the manpower and skill required and how difficult it would have been to construct the walls which run throughout. There are three remaining original guard houses, the largest of which housed 100 Samurai who lived and worked at the checkpoint on the grounds 24 hours a day.

Large guard house, which housed 100 Samurai guards

As a visitor to the castle made their way in, each successive guard house was manned by increasingly trusted guards and family members.

Today, no vestige of that castle remains and the portion of the grounds we see are beautifully tended gardens. Though, there was that helicopter that seemed to stay high up above the grounds the entire time we were there. Or maybe it was my imagination, 😉 or maybe the Marathon.

There’s a large open area at the back of the section we explored and people were lounging on the grassy areas, taking family photos.

I don’t know. They were taking pictures of little posed dolls?

Nearby, some orange trees are each protected by their own little enclosure.

No picking the Emperor’s oranges.

On the way out, notice the small door inset into the large gate so that you could let one person in without endangering the castle by opening the large door.

次回まで (Until next time)

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