The Tamagawa Sengen Shrine is located on a small hill close to Tamagawa station. The shrine features a large observation deck overlooking the Tamagawa river so it a great place to have an overview of the region. One of the shrine’s altar has a large stone sphere that reminded me of the Dragon Ball manga, something I have seen only at the Tamagawa shrine.
Rikugi-en is a famed Japanese garden located in the Northwestern sector of Tokyo. Like many Japanese gardens, the park features a pond surrounded by small hills and beautiful vegetation. We visited the park after a rare snowstorm that affected the area of Tokyo so we witnessed the garden in a very unusual and beautiful snow-covered state. As a relief to the cold, we got to enjoy a warm tea while basking in the sun at the lakeside teahouse.
Summer is the season of Japanese festivals, or Matsuri in Japanese. When visiting the neighbourhood of Okurayama in late summer, we were pleasantly surprised by the ongoing festivities of the Okurayama Matsuri. The local shrine’s Omikoshi (festival float) was being carried around in the streets by locals. In the evening, Yatai food stalls were lining up the street leading to the small local shrine. We ate choco bananas and got purified by a shinto priest at the shrine.
The National Art Center is among the largest art museums of Japan and features only temporary exhibits. At the time of my visit there were nice exhibitions about modern architecture and paintings. The architecture of the museum is very modern and the facade is completely covered with glass panels. Access to the atrium is free and visitors do not have to but tickets for the whole museum but only for the exhibitions that they wish to visit. This museum is a must for those interested in art as it features diverse collections, whether modern or classical, which change over time.
Yokohama Marine Tower was built in 1961, way before the impressive Landmark Tower, Yokohama’s current tallest building, came to existence. The tower is not that high with its 100 meters but nonetheless offers a great view of the waterfront of Yokohama. From its observatory, one can see many landmarks of Yokohama like Yamashita Park, the Hikawa Maru, Osanbashi Pier, the Akarenga, and Minatomirai. On the day of our visit we could feel the tower shaking a bit although winds were not that strong!
The Hamarikyu Garden is located near the Tokyo port area, in the luxurious financial district of Shiodome. Initially the villa of the Shogun Tokugaga, famous for duck hunting, it was remodelled as a park in the 40s. The Hamarikyu Garden contrasts heavily to the modern skyscrapers seen behind. Walking from the Shiodome station, one transitions from a futuristic display of luxury to a peaceful and unpretentious garden.
Yamashita park stretches along the waterfront of the port of Yokohama. Nearby attactions include the Yokohama Marine tower and the Hikawa Maru, an ocean liner now preserved as a museum. While taking a stroll in the park, make sure to pass by the beautiful rose garden.
The flower festival of the city of Nagano is held every year in early May. For the occasion, Chuo-Dori, the main street leading to Zenko-ji Temple, is covered with flower mosaics. Cultural performances, such as the lion dance, are also held during the festival. It is also a great chance to enjoy a good Matcha ice cream!
The Katashina River flows rapidly down the Fukiwari-no-Taki wayerfalls. The fall which is about 30 meters wide, has an impressive drop of about 7 meters. Because of its impressive size, it is sometimes referred to as the Japanese Niagara falls after the famous waterfalls located in between Canada and United-States. Access is free and a path follows closely the river and falls. In fact, you can walk right next to the water so that you may take an unpleasant plunge of you are not careful but you get to admire the power of the river from up close!