Tokyo in the Morning, Los Gatos at Night

The view from our room at the Mesm Hotel was dominated by skyscrapers at night – but during the day, Hamiriku Gardens was the center of attention.

There was an entrance only fifteen minutes’ walk from the hotel, so we decided to explore the gardens this morning before leaving for Narita Airport and home. It was surprisingly rich in history; it was a feudal lord’s residence and later, a palace for the Tokugawa shoguns and then the Imperial Family, who donated it to the City of Tokyo right after WWII.

There weren’t many flowers in bloom today, but the park is overwhelmingly beautiful in its greenness. It’s well-maintained, and it looks like they do it the old-fashioned way, without power tools.

There are some statues in the park, like this one – it’s not a Minuteman, though that was my first thought when I saw it from a distance. It was installed to commemorate the Meiji Emperor’s 25th wedding anniversary.

The park has four teahouses, a sluice (still used to control the flow of water between Tokyo Bay and Shioiri-no-ike, the tidal pond in the center of the park), several bridges, and even a couple of old duck hunting areas, complete with blinds.

You can’t ignore the city that surrounds the park, but the two are surprisingly complementary if you find the right view.

The park also has a 300-year-old pine which is a must-see – unfortunately, we had to leave before we found it because it was time to go home.

We returned to the hotel, checked out, walked about 10 minutes to the Daimon Station, and hopped onto the Asakusa Line which took us directly to Narita in just over an hour for 1414 yen (about $9) each – much faster and cheaper than the Limousine Bus or a taxi would have been.

We left Tokyo with 171 yen in our pockets, empty Suica cards in our wallets, and many great memories. It’s good to be home, but I wish I’d had more time to explore!