Tokyobling's Blog

Misty Imperial Palace Grounds

Posted in Nature, People by tokyobling on November 13, 2015

The Winter is coming but still the autumn lingers for a little while longer. I took these photos last year from a very misty Imperial Palace outer grounds, with the ground strewn with fallen red leaves and the mist covering most of the pine trees near the grand office buildings of Marunouchi. I hope you have the chance to go out and see the majestic autumn colors around Tokyo this weekend – despite the forecasted rainy weather!

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Foggy Autumn Day – Marunouchi

Posted in Nature, Places by tokyobling on November 11, 2015

The autumn if firmly here and it has been a wet and cold one so far. Unusually so. Still, there is a lot of charm to the Japanese autumn, not least of which are the lovely autumn fogs we sometimes get settling over this city literally built on water. I took these photos on one foggy afternoon last autumn, in between the Imperial Palace and Marunouchi, Tokyo’s financial and business district above others.

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Hibiya Park in the Spring

Posted in Animals, Nature, Places by tokyobling on March 24, 2014

Although the Tokyo official sakura season is still not declared there are a few early bloomers here and there around the capital. I walked through Hibiya Park which is about as downtown as you can get in central Tokyo and found that spring was already coming along nicely probably a week or two earlier than the rest of the city. Cherry trees were blooming, lots of other flowers as well, and the wildlife was coming back to the ponds and wetlands in the park. I saw newts, lizards, turtles and even a couple of egrets hunting for food!

What today is Hibiya park started out as the private gardens of several different feudal lords. When the Emperor took control of the country in the 1860s, the old feudal lords were ordered to leave the capital and the area around Hibiya park was mostly abandoned. In 1871 the military moved in and placed barracks and gunpowder storage in the old gardens. The military eventually left and the government started planning a new kind of park in the location of the old parade grounds. Before the end of the century the new Japanese government had sent out hundreds of young scholars around the world to study hard and bring home the latest in all art and sciences, on of these men was Honda Seiroku who had studied landscaping in Germany and was placed on the design committee of one of the first western style parks in the country. Hibiya Park was officially declared open in 1903.

The park has seen quite a lot of the modern history of Japan, it has been the base of a military mutiny, riots and demonstrations, it has been turned into a refugee shelter and temporary burial ground after earthquakes and during the war all of the flower beds were turned over to growing potatoes and the metal in the park railing and statues were confiscated for military use. After the war some of the buildings were occupied by the US Navy as headquarters. Today it is surrounded by the head offices of several banks and newspapers as well as three government ministries. When people in Japan think about park, it is usually the Hibiya Park that comes to mind!

One of the more interesting buildings in the park is the old park management office built in 1910 in the German Bungalow style. Right next to it is a more recent restaurant building in a slightly similar manner.

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The Biggest Kingyou Sukui in the World

Posted in People, Places by tokyobling on June 20, 2013

Maybe the title is a little bit of an overstatement, but last year I happened to join in on what might just be the biggest kingyou sukui game in the world, at Rakujyu Park in Mishima City, Shizuoka prefecture. Kingyou Sukui, as you must have seen on my blog, is a game where you pay a small coin to be given the chance to “rescue” gold fish (and sometimes other animals or objects) from a shallow aquarium. Usually this is a festival game where you pay 300 yen to scoop fish into your bowl with nothing but a thin ladle made of paper! The best kids can win a handful or more of goldfish but some kids (like me) come home with nothing. At the Rakuju Park they had partitioned off part of a pond and a small river and released thousands of fish, rubber balls and rubber ducks. On a given signal dozens of kids (and quite a few enthusiastic parents) rushed out to scoop up as many as goldfish as possible. For the kids who weren’t that quick they could at least focus on the less slippery toys floating around. If I had seen this event and being 30 years younger I would have been right in the middle of everything!

A few of the kids preferred to splash around on their own in different ponds, more interested in playing in water rather than catching fish. Some seemed happy to just stand in the cold clear melting water!

Mishima City is famous, and rightly so, for their fantastic water. It comes straight from the slopes of Mount Fuji and is available for free at several public fountains throughout the park and the rest of the city. The water is so fantastically tasty that I think I would never drink anything else if I lived around here, all the water is perfectly safe as well, and even the ponds and streams running through the city are perfectly clear and absolutely gorgeous.

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