This week we have our first guest blogpost from our biggest supporter Kiran. He is currently abroad in Japan doing the The Japan Exchange and Teaching Programme (JET).
We hope that reading about his experiences will inspire you to visit Japan as well!
Back in the UK, we have some nice parks. I spent a lot of time in Greenwich park in London as a kid, and at University in Bristol I often went up to Brandon Hill on sunny days with an ice-cream. But as nice as those memories are, the parks in Japan and especially here in Tokyo are of a different league altogether. Tokyo has both free and paid parks, and all are incredibly special in their own way.
The free parks are always busy, and often have events or festivals going on. Yoyogi park in Harajuku is particularly amazing for this, and has held numerous festivals since I’ve been here including ones for St. Patricks day, vegan food, and even a dog festival. They are a fantastic place to head with friends and explore the fun side of Tokyo. What’s more, you can usually pick up some delicious street food while you’re there! The free parks, notably Yoyogi and Ueno, also tend to be home to some of the stranger things you might see in Tokyo – more than a few times I’ve seen elderly men or women walking strange pets like rabbits, ducks and even meerkats, not to mention the famous Yoyogi park rockabillies that are out dancing throughout the day on a Sunday.
Dat shiba tho
The paid parks are a more refined, relaxing experience. Entry is usually just a couple hundred yen, and the gardens inside are incredibly well kept. The paid parks come in many sizes from the massive Showa Kinen koen in Tachikawa, to the small but pristine Kiyosumi-koen in Koto-ku. Kiyosumi is a particular favourite of mine, and I think epitomizes the most beautiful aspects of Japanese gardens. It’s a wonderful place to sit and ponder the mysteries of life, all while gazing on at the turtles, cranes and koi carp that call the park home.
Showa Kinen Koen
Closer to home for me, is Sumida park. It sits on the banks of the Sumida river that flows through Tokyo, and is a fairly small and unpresuming place that at first glance may not seem so special or unique. However, when the cherry blossoms come out, everything changes. Like many parks in Tokyo, for a few weeks in late March and early April, Sumida park is transformed into a sea of beautiful cherry blossoms. I spent many hours sitting in the park during cherry blossom season and reflecting on all manner of things. There’s a really friendly atmosphere in the park too – once or twice I’ve had an elderly man approach me and ask where I’m from, how tall I am, what my job is, presumably curious because of my obviously non-Japanese looks. Though it’s not one of the most famous parks in Tokyo, Sumida park is very special to me.
Thank you Kiran for writing this beautiful post about Japan! Reading about this definitely makes me want to go back again.