Great Ideas for a Bunkyo Trip

by Luke

If you are travelling around Tokyo, then why not stop off at Bunkyo. It features beautiful gardens designated as a Special Place of Scenic Beauty, a baseball stadium, a theme park, Tokyo Dome City, a huge complex of shops and attractions, and the birthplace of Japanese botanical research. Here are some ideas for a day trip to Bunkyo:

Today I am in Bunkyō to see a tree. As soon as I exit the train station I am overwhelmed. In front of me is the massive Tokyo Dome, the home of the Yomiuri Giants baseball team, but this isn’t why I am here. Outside the stadium there is the strangest roller coaster I have ever seen, Thunder Dolphin. The seventh tallest continuous circuit roller coaster in the world; it twists and turns between the buildings, and through the middle of the first Ferris wheel in the world to have a hollow center; again, this isn’t why I am here.

Great Ideas for a Bunkyo Trip

I follow what looks like a castle wall for about ten minutes, before eventually arriving at the entrance to Koishikawa Korakuen Gardens. Special Historic Site and Special Place of Scenic Beauty, the gardens are named after a poem by Chinese poet, Fan Zhongyan; the poem is Yueyang Castle:

Be the first to take the world’s trouble to heart, be the last to enjoy the world’s pleasure.

At the entrance I pay my ¥ 300 and make an enquiry as to the location of the tree. “That is a different garden,” says the woman as she hands me the ticket I have just paid for. She then takes out a map of Bunkyō and highlights where I am right now, then circles the place where the tree is. Not wanting to upset the apple cart by asking for my money back, I thank her for her help, and enter the gardens anyway.

Great Ideas for a Bunkyo Trip

The first thing that strikes me about the gardens, is the magic of Tokyo Dome. The dome is white and provides an impressive backdrop to the many Japanese silver leaf and maple trees. The interesting thing though is that the dome refuses to be photographed. As I focus my camera, the roof of the dome just magically disappears as it blends into the white Autumn sky. It is hard to explain. The roof is made of some magical material that makes it look like a living organism, perhaps a chameleon.

Guidebook from Planetyze about Tokyo Dome City
Reviews from TripAdvisor about Tokyo Dome City
Tours of Tokyo Dome City

I continue to explore the wrong gardens; the peace and tranquility are quite welcoming. A huge lake takes up most of the area, and there is a nice walking route around the lake. The only thing that spoils it for me is the restoration project that is currently taking place. The workers here have their work cut out today as it appears that a large part of the lake has crumbled during last weeks heavy rain. Water is being sucked away by a huge industrial pump.

The thing that makes my these gardens worth a visit though, is the scarecrows.

Great Ideas for a Bunkyo Trip

I actually spent a time last week trying to find rice fields in Tokyo, just so that I could see what a Japanese scarecrow looks like. Today I am not disappointed. Never mind the crows, these sinister creations scare even me.

I continue to explore the deserted gardens. I must be the only person here; except for the scarecrows. I walk all the way around the lake, and toward the exit.

Guidebook from Planetyze about Koishikawa Korakuen Gardens
Reviews from TripAdvisor about Koishikawa Korakuen Gardens
Tours of Koishikawa Korakuen Gardens

I leave Koishikawa Korakuen Gardens and walk the thirty minutes to the similarly named Koishikawa Botanical Gardens. I pay the ¥ 400 entry fee and explore.

Great Ideas for a Bunkyo Trip

These gardens are managed by the University of Tokyo Graduate School of Science, and are the birthplace of Japanese botanical research. Dating back to 1684, the garden displays a collection of over four thousand species of plants, and a herbarium containing over 1.4 million specimens. With over four thousand species and a map written entirely in Japanese, my search for one specific tree is almost fruitless.

I wander through the lush garden foliage for over an hour; it is the most peaceful place I’ve been to in Tokyo. Eventually, I find Mendel’s Grapevine. Next to the grapevine is the tree, Newton’s apple tree.

Great Ideas for a Bunkyo Trip

The tree rarely grows apples, it is somewhat fruitless. When it finally does bear fruit, the apples are instantly devoured by the many crows in the park, so many crows; maybe I should have stolen a scarecrow from the other gardens.

Sir Isaac Newton’s apple tree is not the original tree that he floated under before he invented gravity. This tree is just a sapling from the famous tree, and was delivered to Japan in 1964. It was almost incinerated on arrival at Haneda International Airport because the leaves were infected, but an agreement was made so that the tree could be replanted in an isolated environment, and now it is here.

Rather ironically, I learn today that the original Newton’s apple tree is in my hometown in England. I never knew.

 


16 Sep 2015

Plan your trip to Tokyo

Chat with a local tour guide who can help organize your trip.
Get Started

Recent Tour Reviews in Tokyo

“ "A lovely introduction to Tokyo" ”

Excellent
1 hour ago Traveler: Yok -   Tour Guide: KASHIMA

My family and I visited Tokyo, Japan over a month ago for the first time. We had never been to Tokyo before and since our travelling party consisted of young children and elderlies it was most wonderful to have my sister organise a local tour guide to show us around some of the great attraction spots. Hideo San arrived early to meet us at our accommodation place and introduced himself and gave us ...
read more

“ A fantastic day in Tokyo with Kahoko ”

Excellent
1 hour ago Traveler: Frank -   Tour Guide: KAHOKO

We had a fantastic full day in Tokyo with Kahoko. Her English is excellent, but most importantly she is such a lovely person to be with and very knowledgeable on many different topics. We managed to cover quite a few places during our time with Kahoko, as she took us not only to some of the touristic sites but also away from the beaten tracks. The suggestions she gave at the end of the day helped ...
read more

“ Fantastic!! ”

Excellent
22 hours ago Traveler: Pallika -   Tour Guide: Haruko

Haruko was really good and has vast knowledge. We really had a great time with her.
read more

“ Full of insights ”

Excellent
1 day ago Traveler: Dipika -   Tour Guide: Masaharu

Masaharu-san was extremely knowledgable and alert to our needs. He took us to the best restaurants and shared so many insights and unique observations about the country that by the end of the tour we had learned a lot. He also knew the best places to eat! It was indeed a great pleasure to experience Tokyo with him.
read more

“ The best guide in Tokyo ”

Excellent
1 day ago Traveler: Young -   Tour Guide: Haruko

Haruko is an amazing guide. She speaks perfect English and has broad knowledge of Japanese history. She planed the trip so well there was no waisted time at all. She is very organized and sincere. Our family had a great time and we hope to do this again with Haruko. Thank you Haruko !!!
read more

“ Lovely guide ”

Very Good
1 day ago Traveler: Tariq -   Tour Guide: Tomoko

Our time in Tokyo with Tomoko was lovely. She was very knowledgeable and informed about the culture and history od Japan. She was also very sweet and gentle with the kids and involved them in the tour. She taught my daughter origami an was extremely helpful. I would recommend her strongly!
read more

“ 1 day tour in Tokyo ”

Excellent
2 days ago Traveler: Eric -   Tour Guide: Toshihiro

Toshihiro is a very professional guide who listens to his customer and is able to adjust the tour to have the best outcome! Before the trip he made many suggestions and was always quick to respond. We enjoyed his way of showing us Tokyo. He also gave us many tips what to do on the other days we were in Japan. We would book a tour with him again!
read more

“ Great day sightseeing in Tokyo ”

Excellent
2 days ago Traveler: Miranda -   Tour Guide: Michiko

Michiko was a great guide in Tokyo. We were together for a day and she showed me the highlights of Tokyo. We particularly enjoyed the markets and the boat trip up the river to the old town.
read more

“ One day tour with Akira ”

Excellent
2 days ago Traveler: Arthur -   Tour Guide: AKIRA

We booked Akira for a tour for one of our 6 days in Tokyo. We figured we could navigate through the more well known areas ourselves so we asked Akira to show us some of the lesser known, “hidden gems” of the city. He did exactly that and took us to some beautiful temples, shrines, and gardens that were not packed with other tourists. For lunch, Akira took us to a local restaurant that had some sim...
read more

“ Amazing Day ”

Excellent
2 days ago Traveler: Ralf -   Tour Guide: Keiko

We had an amazing day with our lovely tour guide Keiko. She is very knowledgeable and we learned a lot about Japan and Tokyo (history, everything about the temples we visited, custom, ...). She knows authentic places to eat & drink. It was a real pleasure spending the day with her.
read more

Related cities

Plan your trip to Tokyo

Chat with a local tour guide who can help organize your trip.
Get Started