This is day 3 of revisiting my journal from our trip to Japan last year! If you’d like to start at the beginning, here is day 1.
So, day 3, here we go!
From Shauna’s Journal
Day 3, October 3rd, 2017
Today was a wonderful day. I slept in until past 10 am! Both Dustin and I were much more well-rested today, so we decided to go to Shinjuku.
Although of course it is still crazy humid here, we were much more comfortable today because we weren’t lugging around extra bags and took a more leisurely attitude toward the day.
We set out to find Shinjuku Gyoen Park with the help of ever-trusty Google Maps. Near the station exit we saw some (shelter? aid?) dogs and donation boxes with a couple of ladies. I made a little donation and they thanked me and let me pet the dogs 🙂
It was a 20ish minute stroll to the park. On the way we saw lots of high-end stores. The admission to the park was only 200yen per person (about 2 bucks).
The contrast from the park to the city, despite their immediate proximity, was amazing. We suddenly felt instantly calmer upon entering; suddenly we were surrounded by towering trees instead of department stores and quiet paths instead of busy intersections. Everyone in the park was relaxing- sitting on the grass, eating ice-cream, going for a slow jaunt around the park.
Fun fact: Shinjuku Gyoen is featured prominently in Makoto Shinkai’s gorgeous anime A Garden of Words.
Soon after arriving, we spotted a gigantic spider eating a bug on its web- one of the biggest spiders i’d ever seen. Some tourists came out of a path in front of us and I said “look at this massive spider!” They smiled and nodded. As we continued down the path, we realized that the spider we found was not a rare discovery- the things were everywhere! There weren’t any directly in our way, but one look to the side showed that these things stretch their webs along gaps on every side of the trail- a good deterrent from wandering off the beaten path!
Here’s what we did and saw at the park:
- got ice cream (Dustin got chocolate and I got vanilla soft cream)
- sat in the grass
- saw tons of huge spiders
- took a couple of pics together
- found a white crane
- startled some birds (accidentally)
- heard our first cicadas
- witnessed popping chestnuts(?!)
- crossed a scenic bridge
- oohed and aahed over beautiful, hungry koi fish
- I peed in a traditional-style Japanese squat toilet for the first time!
- we couldn’t believe how gorgeous the trees in the park were
- stayed until closing (4ish)
After the park we headed to our first theme cafe: the Square Enix Artnia Cafe. On our way we passed:
- our first DAISO (ok, we didn’t pass by- we stopped in, and Dustin bought some socks)
- a huge group of smartly dressed office workers leaving work together
- someone’s 2 pet rabbits
- a large raven (?) cawing on a streetlight
- plastic food displays (always cool)
- a cat themed establishment with lots of cat themed deco outside
The Artnia cafe was neat- more of a bar than a cafe. They had merch for Dragon Quest, Final Fantasy, Kingdom Hearts, etc.
While the main draw for us wasn’t the food, and the merchandise felt a bit scant, the highlight for me was this impressive display room featuring glass and mirrors everywhere, and a huge crystal fountain surrounded by recognizable figurines being featured.
Here are just a few of many displayed there when we went: Cindy, Sephiroth, Hatsune Miku, Sultana Nanamo Ul Namo, and Wolverine!
After Artnia, Dustin headed back to the hotel and I did some more evening shopping, picture taking, and exploring in Ikebukuro. I got a special edition Fate Stay Night drink from the stand next to Animate, as well as more gashapon and souvenirs and gifts. I also got some cute treats for us to try from Animate.