Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Exploring Central Tokyo: Koishikawa Korakuen Garden

One of my favorite meals in Japan we had on our first full day, right after we had been to the Imperial Palace, at a restaurant called Kanda Yabu Soba. I found the restaurant on a non-touristy list of the best restaurants in the area so we figured it had to be worth a try. The upside of discovering some lesser-known gems is generally better, more authentic, and less expensive food. The downside is that these restaurants don't cater to tourists and therefore have no need for an English menu or photos of the food unlike most restaurants near popular tourist destinations. We waited for about 45 minutes before finally getting a table, so I was afraid some of our fellow tourists may have found the place as well, but it really did seem like most of the others were locals. We ordered soba (buckwheat noodles), which was fabulous, and Peter got some sort of soup. 

We didn't take any of our own photos, so I grabbed a picture from the website. This is what I ordered:

The funniest part of the lunch was when they handed us a small device neither of us recognized, but somewhat resembled a pipe. For a second, I thought the lunch was going to take a strange turn. We had absolutely zero clue what to do with it. Seriously, I felt like a martian. Finally, after a few minutes of epically embarrassing ourselves, the kind couple at the table next to us (who were trying to hold back their laughter) showed us that it was actually a pepper shaker. So, now we know! 

We didn't take any pictures during this lunch because a) we didn't know if it was considered polite to blatantly photograph food (my cousin's girlfriend is from Japan and she later informed us that it's generally fine, but probably less common than in America, so I'm glad we refrained) and b) we were too busy frantically Google translating the menu. We did get a couple of pictures of the surrounding neighborhood, though, including this cute doorway:
And this man biking with two children. We noticed this was really common in Japan and I thought it was amazing that these parents could bike while balancing kids at the same time. I can barely stay on a bike with just myself. Quite impressive, and probably a pretty good workout. This was another one of those times when we tried to take a discreet photo of the kids, because they were so cute, but we didn't want to stick out as total creepers. Not sure if we succeeded based on the kid in the back's confused face.
After lunch, we headed over to explore Koishikawa Korakuen Garden. Right when we got off the train, we came across a kid's baseball game and stayed to watch for a few minutes. It was about the cutest thing I've ever witnessed. All of the kids sang songs and chants throughout the game, and I'm no baseball expert, but they seemed pretty talented for their age.
The funniest part to me was that the mothers of the children all stood inside the fence, right behind the dugout and were at times even more animated than the children. We saw the tail end of the game, and when it finished, quite a few of the kids just took off for home on their bikes. From what we observed, Japan is extremely safe and kid-friendly, and the fact that these young kids, probably about 5 or 7 years old, can just ride their bikes to and from their baseball game with no supervision is pretty nice.
We then made our way down the road to check out the garden. Koishikawa Korakuen is one of Japan's oldest gardens and is beautiful year-round, but is especially known for its spectacular fall colors and the famous spring cherry blossoms, which we sadly missed by just a few weeks.
 The Engetsukyo bridge, which is meant to reflect into the water to form the shape of a full moon.
 Tsutenkyo Bridge.
After strolling through the park for an hour or so, we headed back toward the city. There were plenty of beautiful flowers on the walk back to the train station, so I snapped what I think is my best photo to date, which is admittedly a low bar. Peter is definitely the more talented photographer of the family, but I did get a couple pictures that weren't deleted  ;).

Check out previous posts from our trip to Japan below!

Arriving in Tokyo/First Impressions

Exploring Central Tokyo:


  1. oh that sucks you missed the cherry blossoms. i am the same as you on a bike, so kudos to that dad for not dropping his kids haha. lol'd @ the pepper shaker, i mean how could you know? at least now you have a funny story ;)

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Welcome! I started Laura and Peter Down Under in July 2014 when my husband and I moved from the States to Melbourne, Australia for his job. I blog about expat life, our travels, food, and whatever else comes to mind. Follow along on our adventures Down Under!



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