Monday, November 19, 2007

Roka Koshunen , Tokyo

This weekend's outing was to Roka Koshunen (Garden). This small park is named after the Japanese writer and philosopher Roka Tokutomi, the pen name of Kenjiro Tokutomi. He lived with his wife in the house in the grounds from 1907 until his death in 1927. She donated the land to the city of Tokyo to be used as a park in 1937.

There is a small museum dedicated to the writer with a display of some of his belongings. Also exhibited are examples of his many published novels and a copy of a letter he received in correspondence from Leo Tolstoy who was very interested to know more about his beliefs.

When Roka lived there it was a rural backwater, now it is now a small oasis of trees in the middle of a heavily built up area. My photos of the three thatched houses that made up his property didn't come out very well, so instead, here's a photo of a small green insect that landed on me.

Green leaf shaped insect close up shot on brown leaf

To get to the park take the number 23 bus from the bus stop near the South exit of Chitose Karasuyama station on the Keio line out of Shinjuku.

Thanks to Susan Pompian, the author of the book "Tokyo for Free" in which we found the details of this delightful little garden. We shall be following a lot more of her suggestions.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Dating and Dating for Dollars in Daegu Nov 24

Another forum on which I often give travel advice about South Korea is Trip Advisor.

Whilst sifting through the hoards of "what should I do in Seoul for 8 hours" questions I noticed an event that may be of interest to anyone in Daegu on Nov 24 2007.

A Canadian lady called Mel is organising a "Dining for Dollars and Wooing for Won" evening at the Moon Hwa Wedding Hall near MBC juction in downtown Daegu. The theme of the evening is speed dating and gambling. The proceeeds go to charity projects in both Korea and Kenya.

She's already raised $600 in her previous fund raising effort for a orphanage.
More details on her website MelsProjects

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Jindai Botanical Gardens

This Sunday's day trip took us to Jindai Botanical garden. On the western side of Tokyo, in Chofu-shi , it was established by the Metropolitan Government in 1961. Over 4,500 varieties of plants are artfully planted in the 425,000 square meter gardens.

These fountains with surrounding rose gardens are in front of the large greenhouse.
Fountains in front of the greenhouse, Jindai Botanical gardens, Chofu, Tokyo Japan.
It is the end of the Chrysanthemum season and Jindai, like Shinjuku Gyeon last week, had put on a spectacular display. This is just one plant:

single Chrysanthemum plant with hundreds of small flowers, Jindai botanical garden, Tokyo JapanThere was also a display of bonsai Chrysanthemums.

Bonsai Chrysanthemum Jindai botanical garden, Tokyo Japan
This rather large hornet was busy pollinating the camellias.

Large orange hornet sitting on Camelia

There are several different routes to the gardens. From Shinjuku we took the Keio Line to Chofu station. We took the number 14 bus from bus stop number 14 at the North exit and got off after 10 minutes at the stop just after the Jindai Temple (one of the oldest in Japan) on the left.

Admission is 500 Yen for adults. Open from 9:30am to 5pm. Closed on Monday, except when it's a holiday when it's closed on the Tuesday.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Chrysanthemums in Shinjuku

We discovered the amazing Shinjuku Gyeon this afternoon. This beautifully landscaped park, just a few minutes walk from the hustle and bustle of Shinjuku, is an oasis of calm and greenery.

We were also delighted to find that the annual chrysanthemum display was taking place.

This, believe it or not, is just one plant.

Chrysanthemums in Shinjuku,Tokyo, Japan, The Ozukuri bed

The hundreds of flowers are teased and shaped using a unique technique to produce this remarkable display.

Chrysanthemums in Shinjuku,Tokyo, Japan. 5 enormous plants with hundreds of flowers. Ozukuri style

The Ichimonji and Kudmono-giku bed was a spectacular display of these two flower varieties.

Chrysanthemums in Shinjuku,Tokyo, Japan

The final flower bed on the route through the park is the Ogiku bed. 311 large flowered Chrysanthemums are planted in diagonal stripes. This style named Tazuna-ue is a speciality of the Shinjuku Gyoen.

Chrysanthemums in Shinjuku,Tokyo, Japan

The display is on until Nov 15. So hurry on down to Shinjuku Gyeon. The entry fee is only 200 Yen and the park is open from 9:00 until 16:30 (Last entry at 16:00). There are three entrance gates the Shinjuku gate is about 10 minutes walk from Shinjuku station.

For those of you unable to get to Tokyo to see it, the New York Botanical garden has a very similar display running until Nov 18th.