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Awaking to a surprisingly sunny and very hot November day, we decided to take a short walk down to Shinjuku Gyoen. While I’d been impressed with the serenity of the gardens around the Imperial Palace a couple of days previously, nothing had prepared me for the vibe here. The park is split into three main sections modelled after traditional English, French and Japanese gardens, with the latter of course being the most interesting.

Huge Koi and turtles swim gently under arching footbridges, while kingfishers dive for food from trees above the ponds. Pogodas, shrines and ornate stone lanterns dot the beautifully crafted landscape, and a traditional teahouse serves green tea and delicious Japanese sweets. It is quite simply the most relaxing, beautiful place I have yet had the pleasure to visit.

Again, the contrast with the sorrounding urban chaos is startling; especially as this is the view as you leave the main gate to return to Nishi-Shinjuku:

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