During my quick solo trip to Japan, I found myself returning to the same garden again and again to escape from the madness that is Tokyo.
This is Shinjuku Gyoen, the national garden located just north of the color and noise of the Harajuku district.
I timed my trip perfectly with the plum blossoms - they actually bloomed ahead of schedule! I wasn't expecting all the pink I was able to see :)
The gardens are massive with traditional British, French, Japanese, and Chinese gardens as well as a greenhouse and huge lawns to just lay around and picnic.
I set up camp under one of the largest plum trees and had a picnic of unagi (eel) and random snacks I found in the convenience store.
What I couldn't get over was the amount of older men and women with these HUUUUGE camera lenses taking pictures of the blossoms.
This is a big hobby in Japan but I never expected to see the gear that they had.
I actually saw this all over Japan. Once I thought I was alone at a temple until I was walking through a grove of peach trees and saw an old man hunched over trying to capture the perfect shot of the blossoms!
Another cute thing I stumbled across was this group of ladies.
All of them were standing around the lake with a sketch book and a serious look o their faces. They were so intensely sketching the scenery that I don't even think they noticed me walking around them.
How do I join this club?!
The gardens cost 200 Yen to go in (about $1.80) and you can bring in all the food you want.
You're given a guidebook to identify the flowers and its a great way to experience some green in the city without getting horribly lost in Yoyogi Park ;)
I had lunch there 2 times on my 4 day trip, so obviously I loved it!
There is a department store nearby (Isetan) where you can buy gourmet (but cheap!) packed lunch boxes that are perfect for this picnic spot!
To get there, you can get off at either Yoyogi or Sendagaya Station. There will be signs pointing you the right way once you get to those stops :)
Address: 11 Naitomachi, Shinjuku, Tokyo 160-0014, Japan