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Tag Archives: Chrysanthemums

Our first objective of the day was to find Todoroki Valley Park. It is only a 20-minute train ride from Shibuya Station. This is a wild and untamed gorge, with a jungle-like canopy. It was forged by the Yazawa River as it heads for the larger Tama River and it is the only valley in Tokyo. A short 1.5 km walk along the river will bring you to a shrine and temple and small waterfalls.

More photos from the day can can be found on my website.

After walking a short distance we found this small bridge over the river. This lead to the Todoroki Valley Park Caves which were used as burial sites.

Retracing our steps we returned to the path along the river where we encountered a picturesque bridge which leads to the Chigo Daishi Mieido a small shrine that features a statue of Kobo Daishi. Fudo Waterfall is right beside the small shrine and originates from the mouths of two ornate dragons.

Following the steps leads to another small shrine.

Continuing up the steps leads to the Todoroki Fudosan Temple.

Chōzubachis, are used by worshipers for washing their left hands, right hands, mouth and finally the handle of the water ladle to purify themselves before approaching the main Shinto shrine temple.

There was a Chrysanthemum exhibit taking place at the temple including Bonsai  Chrysanthemums.

Walking back down to the Yazawa River we continued our river walk. We found a small Japanese Garden. Some of the trails were closed but we were able to walk through the garden and out of the gorge. On the way we found several small ponds a small bamboo forest, fruit trees and flowers.

There was a small gate at the top of the garden so we went through it and found ourselves in the Todoroki Fudo Children’s Park. We sat on a bench to change batteries in our camera and while we were doing so a group of small children on an outing showed up. The care takers had their hands full. As soon as they took the child out of the wagon the child was off and running or crawling.

We retraced our steps back to the train station and caught a train to Oimachi Station where we changed trains for Hamamatsucho Station and our destination which was Hamarikyu Gardens. The lines in the second photo tell riders where to stand when waiting for the train.

I found this giant spider along the sidewalk and it was close enough to get a good shot.


We had to walk a short distance from the train station to Hamarikyu Gardens. I took this photo because of the odd shape of the building. It looked like you could almost touch both walls at the same time. There was also garbage on the street. This is a very rare event in Tokyo. It looked like a bird might have gotten into the garbage. Normally garbage is covered with a net to prevent that from happening.

After a short walk we arrived at Hamarikyu Gardens. Many of the parks in Tokyo are free but most of the formal gardens have an entrance fee.

I believe this is part of the Sumida River with in the background.

As I recall this park was a villa for a feudal lord and this was his duck hunting blind. It was a very elaborate setup with everything choreographed to bring the ducks to the lord.

This park had some wildlife that I was able to photograph.

As we were wandering around we noticed this water bus leaving the dock so we walked over to see what was going on. Checking at the dock we discovered that water buses leave from the dock about every hour. Since we had not ridden a water bus we decided to walk around the park for a bit more then come back and take the water bus up the Sumida River to Asakusa.

Everyone was in line early hoping to get a good seat but as it turned out there were not all that many people on the bus.

In order to get out to the Sumida River we had to go through a set of locks.

These are some of the sights along the river on the way to Asakusa.

It looked like most of the bridge crossing the river were under construction or renovation. They must spend huge sums on infrastructure repair. Too bad this country can’t afford to fix out infrastructure.

Several couples in traditional costume were waiting for us when we docked in Asakusa.

A shot of Tokyo Skytree from the Asakusa docks.

We saw more people dressed in traditional costumes as we walked over to Sensō-ji.

We were looking for a McDonald’s for some ice cream and coffee and we found in in a shopping area.

Just across the street I notice a shop that was renting out traditional costumes. This is near Sensō-ji where we also saw quite a few people dressed in native costumes.

We then took a train over to Shibuya where we wandered around some fancy shopping centers while we waited for our son to finish work.

We then took the train to Ebisu and walked down to Specialized Group where he was just finishing up work.

We all caught a train to his apartment where we watched the Green Bay Packer Game. After the game Justin an Carla took us to dinner at a local restaurant just down the street.

We then headed back to our hotel which was about a 15 minute walk from his apartment.



This turned out to be one of our strangest days in Tokyo. We had decided to visit Mount Fuji so we made an early morning trip down to the JR ticket office at Shinjuku Station to aquire tickets.

The internet seemed to suggest that we could go all the way on the JR Line but when we arrived we discovered this wasn’t the case. We had to take the JR Limited Express train from Shinjuku Station to Otsuki. At Otsuki we would stay on the same train but have to purchase another ticket to reach Kawaguchiko. After all of this discussion we discovered the train was sold out. We decided to reserve tickets for a couple of days later.

Our Backup plan was to take the train to Mount Mitake. We would take the JR Chuo Line to Ome Station then transfer to another JR train to Mitake Station. We found the sign for the JR Chuo Line and headed down to the platform. When we reached the platform the train was already there. My wife got on but before I could get on the doors closed. My wife turned around the discovered that I was still on the platform as the train pulled. She had this horrified look which I wish I could have captured on the camera. The last thing I saw was that she mouthed “stay there”. So I did.

I should point out that when we travel we both have Verizon phones and for $10 per day each we could have access to our phones. Since this is a bit pricy my wife usually purchases a local SIM card for her phone and we use it for navigation. In this case she was using Japan Navitime to map our train travel. My phone was not turned on.

I waited and waited for her to return. After an hour of waiting for her to return I begin to feel like Hachiko the dog at Shibuya Station. I decided to turn my phone on but didn’t have a signal so I went outside the station by the JR Ticket Office. Now what? I couldn’t call my wife because she only had internet access and no phone number. I did remember something about Facebook Messenger but where to find it on my phone? You’ve probably guessed that I don’t use my phone very often. I started poking around and the next thing I know I was on a video chat with her. How that happened I have no idea since I’ve never used video chat. Turns out she was on a train to Ome and couldn’t talk so she said she would get off the train and text me. She did get off of the train and I received a text that she was on her way back to Shinjuku Station and it would take about a half an hour

More photos from the day can can be found on my website.

I decided to wander around the area outside of Shinjuku Station.

I’m not sure if this person was homeless or just taking a morning break. One thing we did not see were people sleeping on the streets and beggars. Apparently Tokyo has a very small homeless problem.

During my walks I kept getting updates, from my wife, on Facebook Messanger. Turns out there were problems on the train line and what she thought would be a half hour turned into over an hour.

We finally met up outside the JR Ticket Office at Shinjuku Station where I got to hear her version of events. It seems that when the train was leaving me behind she first mouthed that I should go to Ome then mouthed stay there. I only saw the latter. She got off at the next station and returned to Shinjuku Station and claimed to have searched the platform for me. Since I have a habit of not standing in one place and wandering off she thought that I had done that. Then she thought that since she had told me to go to Ome that I had gotten on the train to Ome so she got on the next train to Ome. The only thing we could figure out was that when she returned to Shinjuku Station she went to the wrong platform or platform entrance. At any rate we came up with a new plan should we get seperated. It involved me turning on my phone.

We should have probably been a little better organized regarding a separation plan. This is the third time it has happened. In 2015 I got on a gondola and left her behind and this spring we were leaving Ellis Island and they slammed the gate in my face, leaving my wife on the boat and me waiting for the next ferry.

Since we had already wasted more than half the morning we started looking for something to do in the area. We found this wonderful park near the station called Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden. The park even had a Chrysanthemum exhibit taking place.

Near a little pond area there were a number of painters at work.

There was an extensive Chrysanthemum exhibit in the park. It is truly impressive what the Japanese can do with Chrysanthemums.

Not only was there an exhibit but there were Chrysanthemums planted throughout the park.

We encountered the ever present hungry fish looking for a handout.

This was a very beautiful park.

We walked through an area with some beautiful backlit trees. Some of the leaves were just starting to turn color.

We found the rose garden at one end of the park. There were still a few roses blooming in mid November.

A little fruther on we ran across a group of school children on an outing. We watched as the started gathering leaves to toss at one another. Soon they turned on their teachers and started chasing them with leaves.

We walked past a section of the park with a bridge and a nice pond.

There was an expansive area of green space which on a weekend would be packed with people.

As I mentioned at the start of the blog this was a rather bazaar day. We noticed a greenhouse along the trail and decided to take a look inside. I took a few photos of some flowers and started following the walkway when I noticed a lime growing on a tree. I realized that I had seen the same lime on our first day in Japan when Carla and Justin took us to a park. It turns out that this was the same park. When we entered the park we turned right instead of left and entered a section of the park we hadn’t visited before. Until we reached the greenhouse we were coming from a different direction so everything looked different.

After we visited the botanical garden display we headed back to our hotel.



We woke up at sunrise and had a bite to eat in our room. There is a grocery store a short walk from the hotel so we stopped the evening before and stocked up on some supplies for breakfast. We were out the door early to catch the trains to Harajuku Station  which was next to the Meiji Shrine complex. When we arrived it was mid morning and there were already quite a few people at the Meiji Jingu First Torii gate entrance. I noticed several cars with diplomatic plates and flags entering the park when we arrived. I wondered what was going on?

More photos from the day can can be found on my website.

As we walked along the main path we could hear drums so we walked over to a restaurant area (bathroom) to see what was going on. There was a plaza where traditional drummers were performing.

Continuing on we encountered wine barrels from the Provenance of the Bourgogne which was consecrated at Meji Jingu. We also encountered barrels of sake wrapped in straw. Apparently these barrels are offered every year to the enshrined deities by the Sake Brewers Association.

As we neared the Second Torii gate we notice policemen directing people to the side of the path. Something was up but we didn’t know what. We soon noticed that a Shinto ceremony was underway as the Kannushi were walking from their headquarters in the shrine complex. We watched the procession pass before we were allowed to continue on.

After passing through the Second Torii gate we encountered a beautiful display of chrysanthemums. We were amazed at what the Japanese can do with mums. the display included a large display of bonsai mums. At home we are used to purchasing a pot of mums to put out in the fall but we have never seen anything like what we found in Japan. As it turned out this was mum season and we encountered mum exhibits throughout Tokyo.

When we arrived at the main Meiji Shrine complex we discovered what was going on. We lucked out and timed our visit on the day of the Grand Shinto Ceremony commemorating the anniversary of Emperor Meiji’s birthday on November 3. This is why there were so many people in the park and the large number of displays and activities. we were able to see the procession of Kannushi enter the main shrine.

We followed the procession into the main shrine where the ceremony was taking place.

There were a group of what appeared to be soldiers marching toward the ceremony.

There were also quite a few people wearing traditional costumes for the ceremony. We took advantage of them posing for photographs.

We were able to look into the area where the ceremony was taking place but could not take any photos. The place was filled with dignitaries. As we walked away from the shrine I notice many diplomatic cars were parked along the road. I didn’t see the U.S. car.

We could hear sounds from another part of the park so we walked over to see what was going on. I should note that the Meiji Shrine complex is huge and is surrounded by a number of parks. When we arrived in the area we found a variety of activities taking place. Men and women were dressed in traditional costumes.

A nationwide archery tournament was being held.

Yabusame or horseback archery was being held by the Equestrian Archery Association.

Traditional martial arts were being demonstrated.

In another area there were agricultural displays of flowers and vegetables.

There were several stages where traditional Japanese music was being performed.

As we were leaving the area we noticed a number of men in a smoking area. As it turns out Tokyo is trying to crack down on smoking. When we were in Japan 5 years ago we encountered a lot of smokers. This time we saw very few smokers and we did see that smoking stations throughout the city were being used. Sometimes there were long lines to get into them.

As we were leaving the shrine area we once again encountered the Kannushi returning to their headquarters.

It was noon when we exited the park. There were a lot more people around many of the dressed in traditional costumes.

When we returned to Harajuku Station we considered walking down Takeshita Street. However, we reconsidered once we saw how packed it was.

We then took a train to Tokyo Station because we wanted to check out the station and also walk through the East Gardens of the Imperial Palace.

We exited the East Gardens and walked through Wadakura Fountain Park Chiyoda City on our way back to Tokyo Station. It was beginning to look like rain so we didn’t stay long.

I took a panarama of the station. The last time we were in Tokyo the station was undergoing major construction and we were never able to get a good view of it. They also had a clock in front of the station counting down to the 2020 Olympics.Tokyo station is a city onto itself. I was easy to get lost wandering around the station. I only wish we had spent more time exploring.

Since it looked like rain we were trying to figure out where we could go and be inside. One of the strange traditions we have is that we visit the IKEA store when we go to a town. Since IKEA was an easy train ride from Tokyo station we decided to use this opportunity for a visit. I had my favorite meal. Checking out of the food line was a strange experience. My wife has a membership and we were asking for free coffee. However, the young lady checking us out apparently didn’t understand English. I’ve never heard anyone speak so fast in my life. It reminded me of a auctioneer in the states. We never did get our free coffee.