Day 4, In the Shoes of Emperors- Part 2

I left Meiji, Shoken and their shrine behind in Yoyogi park at around 13:00 and caught the Yamanote Sen (circle line) from Harajuku to Shinjuku. Even though I’ve now passed through Shinjuku station on a number of occasions, it’s labyrinth like qualities not only continue to confound me, but I’m now firmly of the opinion that it’s only a matter of time before I bump into the Minotaur tucking into his Hello Kitty bento box.

Trying my best, and failing, I  bore vaguely southwards towards the Shinjuku National Gyoen (Gardens).

The former imperial gardens typify what you’d expect to find in Japan. Neat grass verges, finely pruned foliage and a breathtaking sense of peacefulness.

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Shinjuku Gyoen from a pagoda overlooking one of it’s many gorgeous ponds.
Like Meiji’s shrine and it’s meditative sprawl, Shinjuku Gyeon blends new and old- in the foreground, clusters of cherry trees seem to clot to the base of this lone concrete creature.

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Can someone double check if the Chrysler Building is missing from Manhattan?

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I’m in no doubt Shinjuku Gyoen is New York Central Park’s equivalent
After spending an hour or so pottering through this horticultural delight, I fumbled my way towards Ginza, Maranouchi and Tokyo Station.

Maranouchi is a red brick style of architecture taking inspiration from the Western World, the Central Station is a wonderful hark back to a time to Japan in the early 20th Century.

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It only took five minutes or so minutes by foot to reach the Imperial Palace of Japan, with it’s current incumbent Emperor Akihito.

The high flying Maranouchi cityscape suddenly breaks off into the vast flat white expanse of the Imperial grounds. Whilst waiting to cross the road to see what I could of this private manse, I struck up conversation with a lady who I assume was in in her early 50’s. Before undertaking the 14 hour journey to Tokyo, I’d spent most of the previous three months learning the Japanese words regarding that greatest of British past times: the weather.

‘Proper bloody waarm int’ it?’ I said- or at least something to that effect.

A guidebook highlight, which I found personally a little overrated, was the Nijubashi Bridge- however, the moat surrounding the palace with it’s moss strewn waters was brimming with a variety of carp, providing a pleasant photo op.

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Nijubashi Bridge
Walking to the edge of the Imperial Palace grounds, I sat and mused at how succinctly the Maranouchi Skyline knitted itself together with the fabric of this hark back to the times of Tokugawa Shogunate who resided here for over 250 years.

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The Maranouchi Skyline’s advance halted by the Imperial Palace grounds
After 30 minutes or so of reading Peter V Brett’s fourth installment of the Demon Cycle, I headed East and across the road towards the small, but charming, Hibiya Park. Tokyo is littered with small green spaces.

To my surprise on the furthest left hand side of the park sat a quaint little German cafe with a small beer garden selling ‘Leffe’ and strawberry ‘Fruli’ beer . Brown and trimmed with white framed windows, I wondered if at any moment I’d stumble across a trail of Hansel’s breadcrumbs.

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Turns out this is one of the few surviving examples of Meiji-German architecture
From here I headed to  Ginza district and to it’s famous Masuya Depato (department store). Floor 1B in particular is a sight to behold. I even saw Mr Wonka and a group of scrupulous Umpa Lumpas trying gleam the culinary secrets of the delicate delicatessen on offer.

Strangely, only taking pictures of toilets supersedes my new, second favourite hobby of wondering aimlessly around supermarkets with a furrowed and flabbergasted brow.

My fourth day in Japan was certainly the most peaceful and photogenic so far.

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