The start of the Golden Week holiday season in Japan coincided with my parents coming to visit us for the first time in over a decade. Nothing more than dinner at our new-ish place on the first day and the following day began with a longer than expected walk around the Imperial Palace (above), past the National Diet Building and on to a rather expensive lunch at the Hotel New Otani (below) in Akasaka-Mitsuke.
After lunch we left via Yotsuya station and went a couple of stops on to Sendagaya station to enter Shinjuku gyoen gardens (below) by the back door as such. On that beautiful sunny day it was busy but nothing on the scale of that in the cherry blossom season a few weeks earlier.
Once we’d returned from our trip to Hiroshima, Osaka, Kyoto and Kobe a week later we walked to Oyama and they experienced the delights of shinkansen-style sushi at Genki Sushi (below) which they seemed to enjoy. These kind of places, where you use touchscreen to order and the dishes come directly to your table via train, are very popular for their bastardised sushi styles.
For the final weekend we went to the area known as YaNeSen (the abbreviated name given to the neighbourhoods of Yanaka, Nezu and Sendagi); the eastern part of Tokyo which is more traditional and reminiscent of a bygone era. First up was Tenouji temple, just round the corner from Nippori station, which features a large copper Buddha (below) originally built in 1690. That was followed by Yanaka Cemetery, Yanaka Ginza shopping street and Nezu Shrine.
Ueno Park isn’t too far down the road from Nezu Shrine and we wandered around there cutting through it’s main Shinobazu Pond (via bridge of course!) before we stumbled upon the Toshogu Peony Gardens festival (700 yen entrance) which my mum particularly wanted to see.
That wasn’t the end of our nature trail for the day though as we dropped by Komagome to take in Rikugien Gardens (300 yen) which was a place I took them to one morning back in 2005 when they visited Tokyo en-route to Australia.
Grilled meat a.k.a. yakiniku was on the menu for our nighttime meal and certainly a new experience for my parents. This kind of dining out is a world apart from anything they know of back home! Our last full day together began in Shibuya at the huge intersection known as Scramble Crossing where well-organised chaos takes place every three minutes as hundreds and hundreds of pedestrians descend in all directions from outside the station. We took a quick wander down Center Gai (below) and then made our way on to Harajuku via a pit-stop for some more familiar food! Meat pie’s just aren’t eaten in Japan so I was surprised to pass the Aussie chain ‘Pie Face’ and couldn’t resist getting some for us to eat later on in the park.
My parents surprised me by actually wanting to brave the overly congested shopping street of Takeshita Dori (below). We continued on through Meiji Shrine to its outer gardens (very much an unknown quantity for many in Tokyo) and later walked on past Yoyogi station to Tochomae to ascend the Shinjuku Government Building.
All-in-all, it was a bit of a whirlwind 10 days or so starting and ending in the capital city with a busy six days in the middle in other parts of Japan.
You can read ‘Parents In Japan 2016 Pt II: Hiroshima’ here
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