There are plenty of public parks to relax in around Tokyo. Ranging from huge to a single swing set with Japanese high schoolers making vine videos. Shinjuku Gyoen located right in the heart of all the action in Shinjuku San Chome is one of my favorites. It has a massive Japanese garden which is under the management of the Imperial Household Agency. Which means lots of chrysanthemums. It houses some greenhouses and flower exhibitions. So unlike Yoyogi Park which is free, this park has an admission fee of about 4USD. It is open from 9:00-16:30. It’s my favorite spot for a picnic because it is a short walk from this place:
I give you the Isetan department store. Highest of the high end from the first floor up. If you can afford shopping here you’re probably not reading this blog. We’ll ignore the top floors and go straight down stairs to the basement. That’s where they keep the foods.
Welcome to the Isetan Food Halls. My photo doesn’t do it any justice, it’s much larger than it appears here.
The Isetan Food Halls are incredible. They have food from everywhere on display. Even if you don’t do a picnic this is a must see tourist spot. You’ll see food displayed in some of the most amazing fashions and you’ll come across some Japanese food you’ve never heard of.
|These adorable things are food!!!|
|Le Green Tea Gateau|
They have an array of French Desserts and Japanese French Fusion desserts. Eat as much macha green tea dessert as you can! You may not like it the first time you try it but keep trying it. I didn’t like beer the first time I tried it and now look at me! What do 13 year olds know anyway?
|Lovely! If only there were enough to share.|
|Top Left to right: Chicken Spaghetti Salad, Maguro (fatty raw tuna) and Avocado Salad, Broccoli Avocado Marscapone Salad YES PLEASE|
|Marinated Octopus Salad|
|Those hamburg steaks have half an avocado inside them! These are a must!|
|They have a bunch of different bakeries in the food halls because you’ll need some baguettes.|
|It’s the MoMA of salad bars.|
|From Hello Kitty’s Private Collection|
One thing that may surprise you is that the desserts here may not be as sweet as you expect. Pop into a Japanese Starbucks and you’ll notice that the whip cream on the frappuccinos is unsweetened. It’s just creamy and white. The locals are not big on super sweet stuff. After 10 years of living here, neither am I. When I bake cookies for co workers during the holidays I generally reduce the sugar content by half from whatever recipe I use. You become used to it. It still tastes good!
|Yes, I would like to sample small batch Japanese whiskey.|
Get thee to the booze section! If its a weekend of after 15:00 they will generally have someone passing out samples of something or other. When I visited last it was domestic Gins from Kyoto. If you know anything about what the Japanese have done with whiskey, then you’ll join me in my excitement for whatever they do with gin. Spolier alert, you’ll probably be hearing about Ki No Bi Gin from Kyoto from your small batch loving booze hound friends soon.
One last note! There is a”No Alcohol” sign posted somewhere in Shinjuku Gyoen, however absolutely everyone brings it anyway. Just be polite and keep the bottles and cans in a bag and pour them into a plastic cup (don’t bring any glass cups). Also, when you leave the park there will be some nice people collecting trash and making sure it gets separated appropriately. Be a good tourist and take all your picnic garbage back to the entrance with you.
You’re all set! Enjoy your picnic and I would love to see photos of it if you go!