We didn’t get lost often in Toyko, but the moment we stepped out of Tokyo Station we were disorientated. Having set off in the wrong direction (which led to us stocking up on picnic food – a silver lining), we eventually found our way to the Imperial Palace Gardens.
After being absorbed into a huge moving queue of people upon arrival, we decided to see where it might take us. After a bag check and body search, we began to wonder what exactly we had signed up for, until we saw a (very small) notice explaining we were heading towards Inui Street, which isn’t usually open to the public. It was a particularly beautiful walk with the cherry blossom, and we got to see buildings that we wouldn’t have otherwise seen, though it was very busy!
After taking some photos, we sat in the gardens for lunch, looking out across the sea of picnickers. We also visited the foundations of the former castle tower, which was destroyed by a fire in the 17th century – you can walk to the top of the stone structure that remains.
In the afternoon we visited the Tokyo Skytree, an amazing piece of bold architecture that you can see from across Tokyo. At the foot of the building is several floors of shops, which are a great source of souvenirs!
We didn’t go to the observation decks (we had Tokyo Tower on the agenda for later in the week), but we did go to Sumida Aquarium, which is a staggering five floors up the Skytree!
The aquarium was smaller than expected (though I suppose space wasn’t abundant due to location), but a great deal of effort had been made to create a modern and calming atmosphere. Coloured lights shone through hundreds of jellyfish, and we were even treated to a light show with soothing music while we viewed the seals and penguins.
The highlight was certainly the shark tank, which we spent at least an hour viewing. A man was cleaning the rocks at the bottom of the tank with a tiny scrubbing brush, and we watched with morbid curiosity as the shark swam round and round above his head – we wondered if he was being punished for bad behaviour, as surely he could have been given a bigger brush!
It was also fun to watch the penguins being fed, and then weighed afterwards. The girls feeding them seemed to really enjoy their jobs, and it was really interesting to watch!
Look out for my next Tokyo post: Hiking Mt. Takao