The Last Autumn of Heisei

Here in Japan, we are coming to the end of an era. The Heisei era. The traditional way of counting years in Japan is based on the length of reign of the emperor. Emperor Akihito took over the throne in January 1989, marking the end of the Showa Period and the beginning of the Heisei Period. In Heisei 31 (2019), the emperor has planned to pass the baton onto his son, making way for a new era. Continue reading “The Last Autumn of Heisei”

Mid-Autumn: Tokyo’s Time to Shine

It’s such a great time to be in Tokyo right now. The whole city seems to be bathed in glistening sunshine. It’s like when you take out an old piece of jewellery and give it a polish–it transforms into something incredible before your very eyes.

Continue reading “Mid-Autumn: Tokyo’s Time to Shine”

8 Reasons to Love Shinjuku Gyoen

I’ve been to Shinjuku Gyoen so many times in the 5 years I’ve been living in Tokyo that it almost feels like I’m arriving home when I walk through the park entrance gates. It’s become a very familiar place. From the cherry blossom season and hot summer days, to the vibrant red autumn leaves and snow-filled lawns, I’ve experienced it all at this park. Continue reading “8 Reasons to Love Shinjuku Gyoen”

Shinjuku’s French Garden

After years of walking past bare, brown hedges not even worth a second glance, I finally managed to visit Shinjuku Gyoen when the roses were actually in bloom. Hooray!

The French Formal Garden is one of the three main areas within Shinjuku Gyoen – the others being a wide open English lawn, and a Japanese garden and pond. This section of the enormous park has its turn in the spotlight every May, when 500 rose shrubs splash a multitude of colours throughout the lush, green landscape.

There are around 100 varieties of roses here and it’s just as much fun finding out what they are called as it is admiring the flowers themselves: Playboy, Jude the Obscure, Lavender Dream, By Appointment, Sexy Rexy, Honey Bouquet, Princess Aiko and Glamis Castle, just to name a few!

May is such a nice time of year. It’s not too humid yet, nor the sun too intense. The hectic start to the new work and school year in April as well as the craziness of the cherry blossom season has died down and the pulse of the city has slowed to a steady beat. It’s a great time to do things like sit under a tree reading a book, have a picnic with some friends, or stroll around a garden. And Shinjuku Gyoen is the perfect place to do so.

Fuji x Flowers

Is there such a thing as too much love for Mt Fuji? Never, I say! Just look at her, standing out there all on her own, covered in pure white snow. She’s bold, beautiful and the pride of the country. And she’s notoriously shy, so catching a glimpse of her peeking out from behind the clouds is always a ‘wow’ moment.

On a very clear spring day, I travelled from Tokyo to the base of the mountain to a park called Hana no Miyako Koen. It was a mission and a half to get there – involving 3 trains, 1 bus and a whole lot of confusion – but once there, Fuji-san didn’t disappoint. The last time I was in this area it was so cloudy that we couldn’t see even one inch of the mountain. This time, though, every bump and crevice was visible. The zigzag trails stood out, and my mind immediately flashbacked to the summer of ’14 when some friends and I trekked up to the summit and back on those very trails.

The park was full of tulips in every colour under the rainbow. The pops of orange and purple and red were gorgeous. But with the tulips coming to the end of their season, it was the little nemophila that stole the show. You might remember my visit to the Hitachi Seaside Park where an entire hill is blanketed with blue nemophila. I didn’t realise there was a purple spotted variety, too. I loved how the spots created tiny love heart shapes on the petals. So sweet!

Hana no Miyako Koen is one of many parks around Mt Fuji. I think it’s awesome that there are people who have gone to so much effort to grow the flowers and create these ‘moments’ for the rest of us. How lucky are we!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Happy Place

“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn.” – John Muir, American naturalist (1838-1914)

Coincidentally, just last week I was looking back at a photo taken of me in Hakuba (which I wrote about in my last post) – I had the biggest smile and it made me think, this is definitely where I’m most content. Warm sunshine and fresh air. Beautiful flowers of all colours. Lots of trees and possibly even a waterfall… Yep, my happy place is being in the great outdoors, the wilderness. Whether it’s while hiking through the mountains or strolling around a city garden, I always feel a boost in energy as soon as I’m immersed in nature. Problems and stress dissolve and I’m left in a peaceful state.

For this week’s Photo Challenge, I’ve selected pics from different locations in and around Tokyo.

Thank you Krista for this week’s Photo Challenge theme.