The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.” – G.K. Chesterton

Thursday, 1 May 2008

Picnic @ Shinjuku Gyoen

Tuesday was the perfect Spring day for a picnic with the girls from my Lifegroup. Tuesday also marked the beginning of the Golden Week (i.e. ogata renkyu) in Japan. It is so-called because there are four national holidays that fall in one week, and many in Japan take a much-wanted/needed/earned holiday either on a domestic or international trip. Sometimes, these four days all fall nicely in one week with two weekends flanking either sides, but this year's Golden Week is a bit dysjunctive because the first one falls on a Tuesday, followed by three normal working days (which many workers take off anyway) before a 4-day weekend holiday. Unfortunately for Rob, most Japanese holidays are working days for his company since they do international trading. He can choose compensation in either the form of extra pay or take a substitute holiday later on. Since we're expecting a baby later this year, he has chosen to save up as much holidays as he can now.

Anyway, back to the subject. We usually meet after work hours over dinner at Ikebukuro on Tuesdays, but since it was a holiday this week, we decided that a picnic would be great. And thankfully we were blessed with fantastic sunny weather. After meeting up with the girls 30minutes late due to a harrying experience getting to the right part of Shinjuku Station (which, by the way, is the second largest station in the world with a daily average of more than 3 million commuters), we headed over to Shinjuku Gyoen which is a national garden with many sub-gardens within it. There is a usual entrance fee of 200yen (~AU$2), but since it was Midori no hi (Greenery Day) the fee was waived. Since Australia celebrated Anzac Day last Friday, I baked some Anzac biscuits to share, and the girls must have liked them because they polished off 10 biccies between the four of them. It was great introducing something Aussie to the Japanese girl and the American girl in our group.

Lots of lush greenery, open spaces, event stalls and people. It's a beautiful place and worth a visit to explore the different-themed gardens. Here are some shots taken at the garden:

There were shady paths and wide open spaces:

There was a cute gaijin toddler who was so fascinated with the water in the hole of a small concrete block set (somewhat randomly) in the ground. I think he got a bit weirded out when a couple of my friends stopped to take a photo of him..

Lots of water features which is considered by the Japanese as one of the important attributes to have in a good garden:

We should go on picnics more often..

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