Tokyo: On the search for peaceful sanctuaries

Explore several wonderful spots to unplug and recreate in the busiest city of the world

Tokyo. Probably the most busy and vivacious city in the world. Its pace really helps you to stay tuned when you are traveling on business — you just need to take a deep breath and feel the inner beat of this huge city heart.

But sometimes you just need to take a break. Even in Tokyo. Even on business. Let’s go out today to find some places for silent rest and relaxation!

Take a walk around Imperial Palace

Located at the heart of the city, in Chiyoda Ward, Imperial Palace is surrounded by spacious park zone and the chain of ponds. Though you will need to book your tour in advance to attend the park itself, when you have hour to spare in Tokyo downtown, just take a walk around its premises.

Tokyo Imperial Palace park

The location of the sidewalk around the castle moat is ideal to turn it into your special place to find peace at the top of busy day. And walk can be long enough to be considered as exercise.

Bonus tip: If you would like to visit Imperial Palace park, book your tour 2–3 weeks ahead of time. Groups with guides can attend palace territory Tuesday through Saturday, usual tour takes about 75 minutes. During Sakura season in spring more of the park is open to public.

Enjoy your tea in Shinjuku Gyoen Japanese Traditional Garden

Visit to National Garden of Shinjuku Gyoen at Shibuya and Shinjuku districts of Tokyo can take you 2–3 hours to explore all the parts of it. There are plenty of magic spots in Haha to Ko (Mother and Child) forest, English and French gardens…

Tokyo Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden

But for me the special place to restore inner balance is tea house by the classic pond and pavilions around it in Japanese Traditional Garden. Hidden by the trees, you will enjoy your walk along the sand pathways and cross the classic bridges over the ponds… To reach your silent hideout and indulge yourself to a midday tea.

Bonus tip: Visit Shinjuku Gyoen on the first decade of November to witness magnificent show of chrysanthemum blossoming! Flower exhibition is held annually and shows dozens of unique chrysanthemum sorts.

Admire maple leaves or cherry blossoms in Shiba Park

Shiba Koen (Shiba park) in Minato ward is a small landscape park in the close surroundings of Tokyo Tower. Though it is located in the business center of Tokyo, you can find some really discreet places there. Gorge with waterfall, wooden stairs, and small bridges create feeling of peace and timelessness.

Momiji (maple leaves) observation spot in Shiba park in Tokyo

It is here where you can enjoy purple maple leaves in autumn — the most well-known seasonal attributes of Japan nature after blossoming sakuras in spring.

Bonus tip: Park also offers wonderful view on Tokyo Tower, especially at night when contracture is lit up.

Find old sanctuary in hills above Kamakura

Next destination you will be able to enjoy if you can take complete day off. Local train from Shinjuku station will take you there in about one hour and a half. Kamakura is situated on the ocean coast and is famous for its medieval history and great amount of shrines and temples.

Shrine in Kamakura

Step off the central streets of the town, take stairs up the hills over Kamakura and enjoy the picturesque view of the seaside, old city and Great Buddha monument. Hour of meditation by the shrine there will restore your inner strength for the entire week.

Bonus tip: Visit Great Buddha statue at Kotokuin temple. Giant Daibutsu monument was cast in 1252 and now is the second largest Buddha in Japan. You can get inside of the statue!

Daibutsu (Great Buddha) of Kamakura

Take a look from Takao san

Another route, that will take you to the silent and peaceful place to rest and calm your thoughts, begins at Tokyo station. Take local express to Hachioji, and in an hour you will be by the foot of Takao mountain.

View from the observation deck on Takao san mountain

Mount that is named the best hiking spot in Tokyo can be climbed by several hiking paths of different length and difficulty. Also you can choose to take funicular which will take you half the way up the mountain. On the walk there, you can explore wide variety of wild life and plants. From the observation deck you will enjoy magnificent view of hills and Greater Tokyo area.

Bonus tip: Mount Takao has been awarded three stars by the Michelin guide, so you definitely need to give local cuisine a try!

Travel preparations for Japan

Passport: You need your passport to be valid for at least 90 days after your departure date from Japan.

Travel insurance: Make sure you have your valid insurance card with you. Japan medical institutions reserve the right to refuse treatment to foreigners who could not provide the proof of their medical insurance.

Visa: Citizens of United States, United Kingdom, and Canada do not need tourist or business visa for a stay up to 90 days. However if you are a journalist and are going to perform professional activity you will need to apply for journalist visa.

The best season to visit: Be advised that the early summer in most parts of Japan is so called Tsuyu, rainy season. The best time to plan your first visit to Japan is probably mid-spring during sakura season or autumn.


Originally published at www.huffingtonpost.com on July 25, 2016.

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