Tachikawa

Showa Kinen Park in Autumn

It’s hard to believe that it’s already the end of November! Living in Hawaii, seasons just kind of blend together and sometimes it doesn’t really feel like time is passing. (Then I check to see how long it’s been since my last blog post and I’m shocked!) I’ve been hearing about the beautiful autumn leaves (and now snow) from family and friends in Virginia so I’ve been feeling like I’m missing out on Fall. My solution: looking through my Fall photos from Japan! Last year we enjoyed a lot of time in Showa Kinen Park and the autumn leaves were simply gorgeous.

Lots of people visit the park during the peak season for the autumn colors. It’s a bit similar to the viewing of cherry blossoms in Spring except it doesn’t quite draw the same crowds (the cherry blossoms only last a few days so everyone is viewing them at one time) and you don’t have the picnics beneath the trees.

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Still, we tried to go on weekdays when there were fewer people. There was an exhibit the park presented with images created from flower petals and twigs from trees. These must have taken a lot of time! The first image is from an anime named Gatchaman Crowds while the second is a scene with fireworks and autumn leaves.

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The entire park was filled with beautiful autumn leaves so we just enjoyed walking down the various paths and enjoying the beauty while enjoying a hot chocolate from a vending machine.

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We even found some flowers blooming!

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The Japanese garden section had some of the most beautiful autumn scenery so we spent quite a bit of time there. There were some turtles enjoying the scenery and fading light as well!

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With that trip down memory lane, I’m feeling more in the spirit of the season! 🙂

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Memories of Tokyo Fireworks

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I know the temperatures are starting to fall in a lot of places but not here! The unusually hot weather that arrived at the beginning of the month seems to have decided to stay and if today’s hot, humid weather is any indication, we’re in for more. All this hot weather has me thinking back to the last festival we went to before leaving Japan: the Showa Kinen Park Fireworks Festival! (more…)

Showa Kinen Park (Almost) All To Myself

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Yesterday I took a look outside at the clouds threatening rain and decided to take a chance (along with an umbrella) on a walk at Showa Kinen Park. The weather held and, probably because of the weather, I almost had the park to myself. That meant plenty of peace and quiet to enjoy all the May flowers!  (more…)

Flower Festival at Showa Kinen Park

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It really feels like spring here in Tokyo now with some days being sunny and warm and others being cool and rainy. After a long winter, it is such a relief to spend as many of those nice days outside as possible. Best of all, so many flowers and trees are blooming!

Picnic during a surprise festival 

My husband and I planned to go picnic at Showa Kinen Park last weekend simply to enjoy the nice weather. Little did we know, the flower festival had begun AND the entrance fee was waived for the day so it was just us and a few hundred of our closest friends. ^_~

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Perhaps it is a few degrees cooler out here in the suburbs or perhaps the trees here are a slightly different variety but whatever the reason, the sakura peaked a little later here in Tachikawa and a few are still blooming! We managed to claim a spot for our little picnic tarp under one of the trees. Of course, as soon as we’d walked into the park the clouds rolled in (it’s April after all), but it was still fairly warm and we had food to eat!

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We’d stopped at a convenience store on the way to the park and picked up prepared food. I’d gotten a reliable BLT sandwich for my lunch and then an umeshu (plum liqueur) soda drink to go along with it. I also picked up a “full course sandwich” pack for us to try. The appetizer sandwich was basically lettuce, shredded carrot, and mayo so kind of like a salad sandwich. The entree sandwich was roast beef, potato, and tomato. It tasted just fine but that’s a lot of carbs together! The dessert sandwich was actually my favorite and consisted of blueberry jam and cream cheese. What’s not to like?  Btw, I took this photo after I’d finished half my BLT sandwich and by then my husband had finished his entire bento which consisted of rice, sausage, potato, and maybe some hamburger with gravy. I am definitely a slow eater. He did still have some Sapporo beer left though. And in case you are wondering, yes, it is perfectly legal and normal to drink alcohol in public here in Japan.

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And to finish up the meal we got some sakura ice cream which really tasted like pistachio to me. I have always hated the taste of the cone section but I did appreciate how this one was shaped like petals. Once we were done eating and relaxing, we decided it was just too crowded and getting a little too chilly to stay later so we decided to come back another day to see the flowers.

Flower festival at Showa Kinen Park

So glad we went back! We found a couple plum trees with multi-colored blossoms, which I’d never seen before this year. The large field at the center of the park now has a huge section of orange and yellow flowers blooming. And the best by far had to be the section of tulips. It is just so beautiful! There are so many different colors and shapes. I had no idea so many tulip varieties even existed. Here are some of my favorite shots:

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These were taken just a couple days ago but today is cold and rainy so it’s been refreshing going back through the photos. I can just pretend I’m back outside in the sun smelling the flowers. ^_^ I hope you enjoy them as well!

Japan Winter Illuminations

This is my second year living in Japan and one of my favorite Japanese winter traditions is the viewing of winter illuminations. Businesses and cities put out their own displays that range from simple lights outlining store windows to showcases that turn plazas and park areas into winter wonderlands. These illuminations generally seem to be displayed from early December through either December 25th or January 1st but some last until February. Last year when I discovered these illuminations, it was a wonderful surprise. As soon as the temperatures began to drop here this year, I looked forward to the reappearance of those twinkling lights. Here are some of my favorite illuminations from the past two years.

You can walk from one illumination to the next in downtown Tokyo and occasionally find a hidden treasure you did not expect.

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This Marunouchi Illumination with trees dressed in sparkling white lights is simple but impressive and adds a festive holiday feel to the downtown central Tokyo district.

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One tree along the street had a charming surprise…Mickey Mouse-shaped lights!

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The Yurakucho Station gets into the holiday spirit with their own green-themed illumination.

The Ginza district in Tokyo is perhaps best known as a major shopping district, especially for upscale and luxury retailers. The displays there have an appropriately luxurious flare.

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The Cartier store itself was wrapped up like a sparkling present.

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The impressive Bulgari display was dazzling at night.

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Turning a corner, I came upon an unexpected Winnie the Pooh Christmas display!

Displays also abound within businesses and range from traditional Christmas trees to some rather creative alternatives.

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The 2013 Imperial Hotel Christmas tree in Tokyo.

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The 2012 Lumine department store Christmas Forest display.

The Kyoto Station has a grand display that I caught a glimpse of in 2012 the day after Christmas. The station is so huge that only a huge display would be fitting.

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Not only did Kyoto Station have huge Christmas trees, they also had this beautiful light display.

And last but certainly not least, the Showa Kinen Park in Tachikawa, Tokyo, has a fabulous display of lights, trees, and even fireworks!

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The lights adorning the trees and illuminating the fountains were picture perfect.

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This light display blinked and changed in tune to songs selected by bystanders. Here I managed to catch the entire display lit at once.

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The grand finale for the Showa Kinen Park Illumination was a beautiful fireworks display.