Tokyo Parks

During this Silver Week holidays, the weather in Tokyo was perfect for enjoying some time outside. We went to different parks for picnics and walks and got to see my daughter get better at walking day by day.

Niko Niko Park.

Niko Niko Park

Niko Niko Park, Kita-Aoyama.

I took this photo from a window of the building next door, where I went for Tokyo Art Book Fair.

Shinjuku Gyoen.

Shinjuku Gyoen

Shinjuku Gyoen lawn.

This lawn area close to Sendagaya Gate is not as crowded as the ones near the main gate.

Koishikawa Botanical Gardens

Red Spider Lilies

Red Spider Lilies at Koishikawa Botanical Gardens

Red spider lilies were everywhere at Koishikawa Botanical Gardens ― “the birthplace of Japanese botanical research”. Even on a nice fall day, it wasn’t hard at all to find a great picnic spot under a big tree here.

Kitanomaru Park.

It was my first time at this park near the Tokyo Imperial Palace. It had a relaxed neighborhood-park feel and isn’t as large as others we visited this weekend. Looking forward to taking a walk there again.

Not pictured: Inokashira Park in Kichijoji. We also went to this park in the town we used to live. If you are with babies learning to walk or prefer softer lawn to benches, visit the west part of the park past Inokashira Koen Station on Keio Line.

More Park Info

The First Year.

My daughter recently turned 1-year-old. It’s not possible to precisely describe how the past year went, but if I were to pick just one word for it — it would be “joy”!

When I look back the 12 months since she was born, it actually wasn’t as stressful as I thought it would be. I learned that every parent starts knowing nothing, and each baby is born with her own unique strength. I’m amazed to see my little girl try & achieve something new, like taking a few more steps forward or getting better at using a spoon. But at the same time, I can already understand what people really mean when they say their kids grow up too fast (and the feeling of bittersweetness that comes with it).

While I haven’t come across any issues that we couldn’t solve together with my husband so far, I certainly realize I have this new long-term challenge; being the best parent I can be for her. I don’t want to push too hard that she feels uneasy. I don’t want to be too protective that she can’t feel confident and independent.

Nobody else has ever tried finding the best balance that especially fits my daughter. We are the only ones who get to try figuring this out. This sounds both exciting and scary, but I guess that’s what being a parent is all about.

I wrote this to remind myself of how I felt at this time of her life. Now, let’s see what the second year looks like!

Yamanashi Wine Tasting & Grape Picking Trip

I’m on a late summer vacation this week. We just went to the Katsunuma and Isawa Onsen areas in Yamanashi Prefecture for an overnight trip with my husband’s mom, who was visiting Tokyo.

Katsunuma/Isawa are in the eastern part of the Koshu Basin, and it’s about 1.5 to 2 train ride from Tokyo. Katsunuma is the viniculture/winemaking center of Japan. Koshu grapes” (Yamanashi has 95% of the Koshu plantings in Japan).

Our first stop was the Budo-no-oka Center (ぶどうの丘). After lunch at a restaurant with an open view of the Kofu Basin, we headed to the basement floor wine cave at for tasting some local wine of Yamanashi.

There must have been at least 80 different open bottles all available for tasting. It was nice to be able to try out wine from several different cellars all at one place. They don’t have any water or wine crackers there, so it’s a good idea to bring bottled water along with you.

Our favorite picks: Classic (クラシック) from Katsunuma Winery, Barrel Fermented Chardonnay (シャルドネ樽発酵) from Soryu Winery, and Made in Katsunuma 100% Red (勝沼産100% 赤) from Chateau Katsunuma.

We stayed at a ryokan (Japanese-style inn) in Isawa Onsen, and enjoyed the hot spring and traditional food. Only in Japan (I think) — you can hit both wine country and hot spring at once!

On next day, we went to Budoubatake farm for grape picking. We got to taste about a dozen different kinds of grapes that are now in season. Then the staff took us to a few of their farms where we could hand-pick the ones we liked. I really enjoyed the fresh taste of Tamayutaka and Shine Muscat. We took home those in addition to Fuji Minori and Kaiji.

They also have a small winery called Hishiyama Chuo Winery (菱山中央醸造). We took a quick tour and tasted their white, rosé, and sparkling, and I was amazed by how good they were.

The winemaking facility here is mostly used by grape growers for making wine from their own local (food-grade) grapes. They only sell a very limited number of bottles to the public, and the bottles don’t have any labels. I highly recommend visiting this place and hearing the story behind their wine!

Bottles of Mujirushi Label wine

Mujirushi (“no-brand”) Label wine by Hishiyama Chuo cellar (菱山中央醸造)

Further Reading