Tokyo is massive. London seems like a village when compared to this enormous city. And the Japanese capital feels intensely urban, too. But now that I’m here, I’ve discovered 4 places that have completely changed my perception of the metropolis. They’re little pockets of natural beauty that soften the city and show me Tokyo’s peaceful side.
As I mentioned in my last post about Tokyo, I’ve traveled to Japan with the & TOKYO Project. They’ve sponsored my trip and given me the chance to experience the city’s 5 core values: Unique&TOKYO, Excellent&TOKYO, Exciting&TOKYO, Delight&TOKYO, and Comfort&TOKYO.
The 4 places I’ve discovered embody a number of these values. The Meiji Shrine, for instance. A Shinto shrine dedicated to the deified spirits of Emperor Meiji and his consort, Empress Shoken, the Meiji Shrine was established in 1920 and occupies 700,000 square meters of quiet land in the heart of Tokyo.
And it’s all Excellent&TOKYO. A forest of 100,000 trees from all over the world transports me into a woodland far from the busy city streets. Wide paths lead to the main shrine buildings, where a sense of peace pervades.
Not far from the Meiji Shrine, I find another pocket of tranquility at the Nezu Museum. The building itself is an impressive feat of contemporary architecture, but it’s the garden that really grabs my attention.
Winding paths lead down a hill to ponds full of boats and reflections. Here and there I come across a hidden cottage that makes me feel like I’ve tumbled into an alternative universe from Spirited Away. I’m captivated by this place, and can’t get enough of what the secret trails reveal. It’s all Comfort&TOKYO.
Further afield, I find Tokyo’s nature in Setagaya’s Todoroki Valley.
A set of steps descends below a red bridge and suddenly I’m on a towpath along a stream a million miles away from the high-rises and trains of the city center.
Soon the path leads to a temple, where traditional bridges transport me into yet another world. Again I’ve landed in Comfort&TOKYO.
But even in the bustling city center there are places to find respite from urban intensity. The Hama-rikyu Gardens, for example. Full of flower beds and pretty paths, this park among the skyscrapers is a great place to see Tokyo’s mix of man-made and nature. It’s Unique&TOKYO for me.
While I’ve enjoyed getting my fix of tranquility in Tokyo, I’m also looking forward to exploring the city’s vibrant streets. But that’s for another blog post. In the meantime, I’m off to soak up more peace in the expansive gardens of the Imperial Palace.
To be continued…