Tokyo and Japanese Gardens are a magical combination...Tell me where to go
TOKYO - I don't quite know how they do it.
You can go to gardens all over the world. And I have, from (lucky me) Barbados to Bordeaux. But there are few things more astonishingly perfect than a Japanese garden.
Even when the garden isn't the central feature of an attraction, like at the Sensoji Temple in the Asakusa district of Tokyo, they somehow manage to get the perfect bridge over the perfect part of a perfect pond, with a small building placed perfectly on the horizon. It's quite amazing, actually.
The parks around the Imperial Palace are perfection as well, with a lovely moat and trees trimmed just so to frame the view.
(Incidentally, do you know how deep the moat is around the Imperial Palace in Tokyo? My tour guide asked me, and I, naturally, replied that I had no idea. "Neither do I," he said. "Nobody knows. It's a state secret.")
Anyway, it's something I noticed everywhere I went in Japan. A rock garden at the Hoshinoya inn in Kyoto was perfect, as were the views around the Golden Temple. Everything is just perfectly arranged and perfectly balanced to suit the eye on just about any walk you take around Kyoto's temples, and it's something the Japanese should be very proud of.
They obviously take decoration to a new height. When I was at the Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo, they had enormous, ripe plums that were delicately wrapped in bright pink paper and then boxed just so. I honestly don't think the city needs a museum of art, because they treat their entire lives like some kind of treasured art piece.
The Sensoji Temple has a small garden, but if you want something bigger try the Imperial Palace or Yoyogi Park or the Meiji Jingu Garden. There also are plenty of options in and around the famous Ginza shopping district, including Hibiya Park (see photo). So next time you're in Tokyo and need a breath of fresh air and a few Zen moments, you won't be far away from the perfect spot.
My trip to Tokyo was part of the Star's Grand Tour project, a visit to ten iconic spots around the world. The story on Tokyo is available today on our website, so have a look.
We started with Rome last week, and next week we'll profile Cape Town. We've got nine of the ten destinations nailed down, but we want your help to decide where to go for the final spot. We're asking readers to choose between Paris, Bangkok and Mumbai for Grand Tour spot number 10, so drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell me where to go!