Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Travel: The Imperial Gardens

    In the 1600s, after a lengthy civil war, Japan became unified under the rule of a Shogun.  Though Japan still had an emperor, his role was mainly ceremonial and he made is home in Kyoto, while the shogun ruled from Edo (current day Tokyo).
     During this time to peace and prosperity, Japan isolated itself from the rest of the world.  It wasn't until American ships arrived in the 1860s with a firm intent of opening up trade that the isolation of Japan ended and with it the rule of the shoguns.
    Power was restored to the emperor.  The shoguns castle at Edo also now belonged to the emperor and remains so even today.
    Although the Imperial Gardens still belong to Japan's royal family, they are open daily to the public and provide a small, peaceful respite from the sprawling metropolis of Tokyo.
    Last summer we were able to spend a few days exploring Tokyo.
    Among all the skyscrapers and the attractions, we found our way to this peaceful place.  After an hour walking the garden paths through trees and over koi ponds, we almost forgot we were surrounded on all sides by one of the largest cities in the world. 
    The foundation of a castle guard tower constructed in 1638 still stands along with a few other pieces of stonework.  We spent quite a bit of time watching the swans and and fish taking a leisurely swim.  I had to capture a few of the koi in photos.  They were playful and oh so beautiful even while burrowing into the mud searching for scraps. 

At the end of this lovely day, after a delicious meal and a very crowded train ride, we were walking back to our hotel and were fortunate enough to catch a lunar eclipse.

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