Todoroki Valley is an oasis of nature in the middle of Tokyo. The valley, which is about 10-20 meters deep, was dug over time by a small river. In the summertime temperatures remain surprisingly colder in the valley thanks to the cold water and the shade provided by the large trees. A path follows the river and eventually leads to the Todoroki temple and a small teahouse. Next time you can’t bear the intense summer heat, head to Todoroki valley for a refreshing encounter with nature!
The Yokohama harbor view park is located on a hill overlooking the port of Yokohama. The parc features a pretty rose garden and an observation deck with a great view of the industrial port of Yokohama where ships are loaded with commercial goods. The Yokohama bay bridge is also seen in the distance.
Yohohama’s foreign general cemetery has an history that dates back to 1853 when Commodore Perry first arrived in Japan. The death of a crewman aboard Perrys’ ship prompted the Japanese government to create a foreign cemetery at Perrys’ request. The cemetery was originally part of the Zotokuin temple. As the presence of foreigners in Japan grew, the demand for burial grounds increased as well so that the Japanese tombs and the temple itself were relocated somewhere else in Yokohama. Nowadays, the cemetery can be visited for a small donation amount. It may not be to everyone’s taste but I enjoyed learning about the very first Gaijins of Japan who must have had to overcome far greater challenges than today’s Gaijins to adapt to the culture of their new country.
The Yamate Italian Garden is located on a hill which was known before as the Italian mountain since it was the location of the Italian consulate. Nowadays, the park features a beautiful Italian-style garden and two western-style historical houses that were restored to their original state. These houses used to belong to dignitaries and wealthy foreigners during the Meiji and Showa eras.
On the eastern side of Jogashima island is located the Jogashima Prefectural Park which features beautiful gardens and scenic views. Not too far to the southwest of the park, on the sourthern coast of the island, you will find an impressive piece of rock (Umanose-doumon) with a big hole in it. Starting from this unusual rock formation, one can enjoy walking along the coast all the way to the western side of Jogashima island.
On the western side of Jogashima island is located a beautiful white lighthouse. Designed by a French engineer, it is one of the oldest of western style in Japan. Sadly, the original was damaged during the great Kanto earthquake but was rebuilt in its present form. This side of the island also features a small market street where several restaurants and gift shops are located. The main attraction of Jogashima is without a doubt its beautiful coast. The many visitors who walk or fish on this side of the island are always under the eagle’s watchful eyes.
Hanamomo-no-sato is a large garden of peach trees located in the mountains of Nagano Prefecture. The best time to visit the region is at the end of April or at the beginning of May when the trees are in full bloom. At that time, the small village is filled with the white, pink, and red color of the peach flowers. It is a great place to do Ohanami, the Japanese picnic, so bring snacks to eat with your favorite beer or sake.