The Spectacular Tulips of Showa Kinen Park
Showa Kinen-The Ultimate Urban Park
One of the things I love about my city is that there are more than enough things to keep one occupied for an entire lifetime and beyond. Tokyo is known for everything high-tech and trendy, and while most visitors come for all the action and excitement that this incredible city offers, I find the need to take breaks from all the glitz and glamour on a regular basis.
One of my most recent discoveries of this incredible city is, what I believe to be the ultimate public park in all of Tokyo. Not only is it one of the best parks in all of Japan, but is probably the best place to view a variety of flowers that bloom year-round.
*Photos taken by myself unless otherwise noted.
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Escape to a World of Incredible Beauty
On this particular day, I literally felt the effects of everyday stress getting to me as my head swirled uncomfortably with anxiety. My head was not in the best place and I desired two things. I craved something different, an escape from things familiar. I wanted to go to a place I've never been to before - somewhere peaceful and quiet and hopefully a place with lots of space.
As I boarded the train, I wasn't exactly looking forward to the long train ride to visit a park. But at least I found an empty seat so I could relax. I decided to do some research online with my ipad to find out more about this park.
Apparently this park was established as part of a project to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Emperor Showa's reign, and it is huge as it comprises an area of approximately 163 hectares. There are also a variety of things to see and do, it's almost mind- boggling.
According to the official website, there are forests, spacious lawns, beautiful flowering plants and even a Japanese garden. Visitors can take part in activities such as bonsai classes, tea ceremonies, bird watching, cycling, boating and croquet. Add to that numerous restaurants, a handful of cafes and barbecue areas, and you barely have enough hours during the day to do it all.
What Should I Do First?
After learning more about the variety of things at the park, I became excited to see it with my own eyes. Once we arrived and took a look at the map, I was surprised to see how big the park actually was. I had underestimated the size of the place. According to the brochure, there seemed to be a flower festival going on. Various flowers were supposed to be in full bloom including rapeseed flowers, poppies and colorful tulips.
Due to the sheer size of this park, the recommended way of touring is by bicycle. However the hour-long wait for the bike rentals immediately ruled that option out.
City or Country?
Where do you live?
A Proper Tea Near the Bonsai Garden
While perusing the brochure, the Japanese Gardens immediately caught my attention so with map in hand, I went in search of this area. After a good 15-minute walk, I finally caught a glimpse of the main entrance to the gardens in the distance.
The Japanese Gardens was located inside its own enclosure, forcing you to enter through one gate, so it felt more like a separate park rather than a part of one. This arrestingly beautiful area included carefully arranged trees and plants that were planted around wooden bridges, meandering streams, and man-made hills. In the center of it all was a large pond with a Japanese Teahouse, allowing one to enjoy a refreshing cup of Matcha. Further back, one could find a bonsai garden, showcasing masterpieces as old as 150 years!
I spent quite a bit of time here. Beautiful koi fish and turtles swam through the streams and pond while the azaleas and wisteria plants added color to the otherwise zen landscape. After a soothing cup of Matcha, I made my way out to discover the rest of the park.
The Japanese GardenClick thumbnail to view full-size
Bonsai Makes the Perfect Room Decor
Neither plastic nor silk, this preserved bonsai tree has real foliage and a wooden trunk that was carefully handcrafted and preserved to protect its natural fragrance, color and texture indefinitely. No maintenance is required. The perfect accent piece for any room.
Komorebi Village-A Japanese Farm Village
Right next to the Japanese gardens lie Komorebi Village, an area depicting a farm village on the Musashino Plain in the 1950s and 1960s. This area features authentic rice paddies, sweet potato and tea farms, where we can learn about the wisdom of nature through agriculture.
On this certain day, the area was decorated with "Koinobori" or "carp streamers" to celebrate Children's Day. There were many activities planned throughout the day in this small area, and although I was immediately interested in the soba ( buckwheat noodles ) making class, I knew I wanted to see the tulips way on the other side of the park.
Komorebi Farm VillageClick thumbnail to view full-size
In Search of Tulips
Looking for the tulips was not an easy task. After a light lunch and rest at a cafe, I continued to walk through the park looking for those tulips that were advertised in my brochure. After walking for what seemed like hours, the trees opened up to an expansive open space of grass. And way on the other side of the open field, I could just make out the colors of what looked like a field of tulips!
Encouraged by the colorful sight, I put one foot in front of the other towards the promised land. Fifteen minutes later, I am rewarded with the most beautiful sight. Row after row of tulips in all its variety fill my vision and I am amazed at the beauty of it all.
The Spectacular Tulips DisplayClick thumbnail to view full-size
What About the Dragonfly Pond?
As all good things must come to an end, it was time to head on home. Unfortunately, the park closes at dusk and I was asked to start heading towards the exits. As I made my way out, I realized something. Although I had enjoyed the day, I was kind of bummed. I wanted to see more and I barely scratched the surface of this huge park.
As I looked at my map, I realized that had barely covered half of the park and I didn't want to leave yet. I haven't even gotten to the rapeseed field, or the poppy field. Or the dragonfly pond! I wanted to feel the wind through my hair on a bicycle. What about those rowboats on the brochure? There was so much more!
Sitting on the train ride back home, I had already decided to come back. In fact, my desire was so strong that I knew I would be back soon. I wasn't exactly sure when, but I knew it would be soon enough.
Where do you go to escape? What do you do to add variety to the everyday grind? As always, your comments are appreciated. Thanks so much for reading!