I like to wander around when I travel, and if I’ve visited most of the places that are on my itinerary, I’m happy to accidentally discover something new. Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden was not on my list of sites to visit during my trip to Tokyo. Quite frankly, I didn’t know anything about it. I was staying near the Shinjuku area, and I noticed on a map that the garden wasn’t terribly far away. It was within easy walking distance, and it was an open day on our study abroad schedule, so I decided to check it out.
The park is gorgeous and quiet. I arrived here quite tired from nearly two weeks of pretty intense exploration of Seoul and Tokyo. It’s no exaggeration to say that a couple of hours of exploring, resting and simply contemplating life while strolling through the park left me feeling rejuvenated. The word “oasis” gets overused when describing these types of places, but if it weren’t for the skyscrapers rising above the trees, it was easy to forget that I was still in the world’s largest metro area.
Here’s a travel tip: it was really cheap to get in — only 200 yen. By this point of the trip, I had built up a considerable pile of loose change, especially those copper-colored 10 yen coins. I placed them in a small plastic sandwich bag and began looking for ways to spend them. I dropped 20 of them into the automatic ticket machine at the park’s entrance to pay my entry fee. There are also drink and snack machines located throughout the park, and I used my coins in those, too. It was an easy way to spend that money without the hassle of pulling handfuls of coins out of my pockets and laboriously counting them at a convenience store cash register.
Next post: we finally make it to Mount Fuji.