We arrived at the Tokyo Station Hotel, at around 9am, after a thirty minute taxi ride from Narita Airport. The hotel is well located, in the Chiyoda-Ku section of Tokyo. Of course, our room wasn’t ready so, after checking in, the staff stored our luggage and we were off to explore the area until lunch time arrived, bringing along our tour guide, who we were to meet at 1:30pm.
The Chiyoda-Ku area is primarily offices and businesses. The hotel is overtop of the train and subway system making getting around a breeze. Since it was early in the day and, although we had breakfast on the plane, I suggested a cup of coffee. We strolled over to a nearby office building and found a Starbucks on the ground level just waiting to make each of us a cafe latte. Then, having satisfied our caffeine needs, we walked over to Tokyo Station to explore the underground.
As we were to learn, Tokyo has a complete civilization buried underneath the city. I venture to say that if one wanted he could live underground never to surface except to attend his own funeral, The subway is a warren of places with a supercharged level of energy and activity.
You can find almost anything in the subway; department stores and restaurants abound. Convenience stores and bakeries, of which there are no shortage, and everywhere you look people are running hither and yon.
We had a light lunch in the hotel and then we were off to meet Izumi Ohsumi, our licensed guide and companion for today, tomorrow and Saturday.
We started our three day tour at the Hirakawa-mon gate. From there we had a wonderful view of the wall which, standing behind a moat, surrounds the castle. This view includes a blossoming cherry tree, bringing color to the brown of the stones.
Once inside the wall we were in the gardens which cover 210,000 square meters and have been open to the public since October 1968. The view of the business area outside the wall was lovely. Here is a shot overlooking a pool of water.
And another overlooking a small park area.
As we walked around the gardens I took a number of shots. Here are a few.
This shot of a young woman, temporarily, in the midst of bustling Tokyo, contemplating the serenity of the moment, is a favorite of mine.
Eventually we made our way around to the Ote-mon gate. To get to the gate one needs to cross the Nijubashi Bridge. On the other side of the gate, and past the guards standing at attention is the royal residence, which is closed to the public.
Here is a photo of JoAnn and me, taken by Izumi, with the bridge in the background.
I found the lion sculpture lights on the bridge quite interesting. Here is one that is in the garden.
Here are a few other photos taken in the gardens.
And last, but by no means all is this photo of the Fujimi-yagura guard tower, one of the few standing original buildings in the gardens.
From there we were off to the Ginza.
Ginza is, to quote a guide book, “synonymous with commerce and wealth.” It’s high rise department stores and the Kabuki Theatre. People rushing here and there, always in a hurry. Izumi took us through an office building to visit its rooftop garden.
From here we could see to the horizon and all the rooftops of the Ginza. I especially like this photo which is a contrast in architectural styles.
From there we made a stop at a Japanese sword shop. I have been interested in these weapons of the Samurai for a long time and wanted to see some up close. The cost for one can easily exceed $100,000.00.
Then we were off to visit the Kubuki Theatre with its colorful posters and hanging lanterns.
Then, as the hour approached 5pm our day ended and we were back to the Tokyo Station Hotel.