Shinjuku Gyoen and Odaiba: Round Two

Today, Nicky and I decided that we were tired of going into the intensely industrial areas of Tokyo (which are too expensive anyway), so we made a small trip to Shinjuku, where one of the prettiest parks in Tokyo is supposed to be.

Shinjuku Gyoen boasts itself as having three large gardens and a greenhouse (which is currently under reconstruction and couldn’t be viewed), as well as two traditional teahouses and a summer house that was built for the Showa Emperor. In all honesty, the park wasn’t all that interesting. Admission costs were the same as San Francisco’s Japanese Tea Garden, and the San Francisco version is far more aesthetically pleasing. Of course, I understand that it isn’t spring, so the sakura (which make the park famous) aren’t in bloom, but frankly, the layout was just boring. The French garden was a small promenade of rose bushes and palm trees (French?) with a gravel walkway. I couldn’t help but feel that Berkeley’s Rose Garden was much more beautiful, even in its off-season.

At the very least, Shinjuku Gyoen is a place where you can sit down and rest in Tokyo. Despite the stagnant water (which made for a very unpleasant smell) and all of the interesting areas being blocked off from pedestrian traffic, we did relax under some shady trees for thirty minutes or so. In the end, we decided we’d rather go back to Odaiba, as the last time we went the ferris wheel was closed (it’s only open on the weekends). 

We called up Erin and met her in Shinbashi before making our way back to Odaiba. It was another gorgeous train ride, as the sun was just starting to set behind the buildings and the clouds were lighting up in spans of light peach and pink. It wasn’t dark enough outside yet, so we decided to go into Venus Fort, a shopping mall designed exclusively for women. It was really fun, even if all of the boutiques were super expensive. The best find in the place was a Lego store, where I wanted pretty much everything. There was a lego man ice cube tray, a pink lego block backpack, Lego t-shirts and a build your own lego person bar. We each built our own lego people as it was the cheapest thing, then headed out to take our ride on the ferris wheel.

The ferris wheel is a fairly romantic excursion, except that the speaker in the cart tends to break the mood. It’s a great place to see the Tokyo skyline at night, and with the ride being a full sixteen minutes, it’s worth the price of admission.

Afterwards, we headed over to the arcade, where Nicky discovered the first place she had ever eaten takoyaki (fried octopus balls) in Japan six years ago, so we ate there, and then jumped into a crazy photo booth to get some picture mementos. We also decided to go to the Hell House, which is a haunted house made for middle schoolers... well, really, Erin and I kind of forced Nicky in, which I feel bad about, since she hates haunted houses. We got some coupons for crane games from the house though, so afterwards, I used mine to win Nicky a Rirakkuma Bear. I think she forgives me now, haha.

Our last stop at the arcade before home was the taiko game, though Nicky and I were made of fail since Erin has prior experience.... unfair advantage! It was a good day, though I’m pretty sure all three of us can’t wait to be in Kyoto. We’ve been in Tokyo two weeks, and we’re pretty much done. I have a small list of things I still want to do, like visit Asakusa and the Imperial Palace, but overall, there’s nothing else I really need to see here. I can’t wait to be out of the big city!