Tokyo: Institute for Nature Study

This was our last morning it Tokyo, and another family day. We met up with Dan’s brother and our niece at the station for coffee, then a walk around the station to find a highly-rated ramen restaurant. It looked a little too ratty to Dan and me so we passed, but apparently we missed out on some good ramen. It was rainy and very blustery, so our plan was to go to the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum for a couple of hours. We took the subway over and walked a few blocks to the museum, but it and the surrounding garden were closed for a special event.

After a quick search of the guidebook to see what we could do nearby, we landed on the Institute for Nature Study that’s right next door. This park is part of the National Museum of Nature and Science, and it is a working research facility. This space was originally the grounds the feudal estate of Matsudaira Sanukinokami Yorishige, a member of the Tokugawa clan, and has historically been left relatively natural and untouched. The Institute is designed to show what Tokyo’s natural environment would be like if left to it’s own devices.

Along with the Honen-In Temple in Kyoto, this was one of my favorite serendipitous discoveries of the trip. I just loved this place! It was lush and green, full of native plants and trees. Despite being in the heart of metropolitan Tokyo, it feels like a world apart. We had a lovely walk down peaceful winding paths, despite the wind and rain. I hope I have the opportunity to spend more time there in better weather and other seasons.

After the park we hustled to the subway to get a stops down to have lunch at Crayon House, a women’s collective with an interesting concept. We had a good buffet lunch at the restaurant, which shares the basement level with a small grocery store that focuses on natural foods. Babies and children are welcome here, and in the bookstore and toy store in the the upper levels.

After lunch, we made our way back to Gotanda Station to get bags and catch our train to transfer to Kamakura. Trains were delayed by weather so we waited for a little bit on the platform, but it was otherwise a smooth trip.