Three Great Gardens of Japan
Japan is famous for many things, among which it’s highly stylized gardens. Traditionally there are three gardens seen as the best. These are Kenroku-en in Kanazawa, Koraku-en in Okayama and Kairaku-en in Mito. The first two are too far away from Tokyo for a day trip, but the Kairaku-en in Mito is just one-and-a-half hours away by train, so if you don’t plan on visiting the other gardens make sure to visit this one.
Trip to Mito
Since Kairaku-en lies just one-and-a-half hours from Tokyo, it’s a perfect morning trip. You can either go to Kairaku-en station (only open during the plum blossom season) and walk to the garden or go to Mito station and take the bus. There are clear signs as you leave the station for the busses which bus will stop at the garden.
The garden is most famous for its plum blossoms, so a visit at the end of the winter (February or March) will treat you to a flowerly delight. There is also a large bamboo forest to explore and a host of different trees and plants.
Kobuntei house now serves as a tea house and hosts poetry events. It’s the perfect place to relax and take in some of the stunning views.
During the Sakura season you should also visit Sakurayama which is part of the greater park area and which is full of cherry blossom trees.
Once you’re done in Mito take the train back to Tokyo for some culture and history.
Back in Tokyo
Edo Tokyo museum
The Edo Tokyo museum is housed in one of the most bizarre and huge modern buildings ever build. The museum tells the story of Tokyo from it’s origins as a small trading and fishing village to the capital of Japan and one of the largest cities in the world. The museum is full with replica buildings from the different ages, providing you the opportunity to travel through time back to the Shogunate, war time Tokyo and the post-war period.
Sumida Hokusai museum
Just a couple of streets behind the Edo Tokyo museum lies the Sumida Hokusai museum, housed in a stunning modern building in the shape of a huge letter M. Here you can watch some of the most famous and iconic works of Hokusai such as his Great wave off Kanagawa. If you love his work, try to also visit his museum in Obuse.
Either take the subway directly to Tokyo Skytree and marvel at the huge building from below and go up to get some great views over Tokyo if you like. Another approach is to take the bus to the Kitajukken river and then take some pictures of the Skytree from a far. Afterwards you can walk towards the Skytree. Not sure if going up is worth the price, the free view from the Tokyo metropolitan building is as good or better. And if you want an alternative to the metropolitan building, we prefer the Tokyo city view in the Mori art building as it provides unhindered open-air views of Tokyo.