The main topic of this blog will be today’s little trip out, but before we get on to that I’ll fill in yesterday. As regular readers of this blog will doubtless remember, a few months I rented a storage room near our flat. We’ve been transferring big empty boxes and the like over there, but my transfer of books was going very slowly; yesterday morning I still had twelve storage boxes full in the cupboard in my office.
So, yesterday I sorted them out a bit, and took many, many loads of books to the storage room, filling two and a half boxes over there. It took the whole afternoon, but I think I made good progress.
Of course, there are still twelve full storage boxes in the cupboard in the office. I’m not quite sure how that happened.
Anyway, it’s leaf-change time now, so today we planned a family trip to Showa Memorial Park to see the red and yellow leaves. The park is within Tokyo Prefecture, but a bit north of the main city, and at slightly higher elevation, so the leaves were in their full glory. Even better, today’s weather was absolutely perfect for a visit to a park. It’s been cold the last couple of days, but today was quite warm, with a few thin clouds to moderate the sun, and almost no wind.
The original plan was to leave the house at about 10am, so just before noon we made it out of the front door. We made it as far as the entrance lobby before being intercepted by the caretaker, who wanted to fuss over Mayuki and tell us that she is really cute.
Anyway, we finally made it onto the bus, and we went up to Noborito, to get the train up to Tachikawa, which is the nearest station to the park. You could go from Mizonokuchi, but Noborito is closer to the park, and about the same distance from us. On the bus, Mayuki started crying, but with a couple of months’ experience behind us we worked out that she was tired and fussing because she wanted to go to sleep. And, indeed, very soon after we got off the bus, she was asleep, and we put her in the push chair.
Tachikawa is the last stop on the Nanbu line, and a bit less than half an hour from Noborito. From there, the entrance to the park is about a ten minute walk. All told, it takes less than an hour and half from our door to the park, and costs about 1000 yen return, each (Mayuki is still free). Park admission is 400 yen, so it’s a very reasonable little trip.
And the park is enormous. OK, we aren’t talking “Lake District National Park” size, but for a fully managed park, it’s pretty big. It has a lot of trees; the Showa Emperor is best remembered in Japan for his love of plants, particularly trees, which is why he is remembered in a park. He’s best remembered in the West as Emperor Hirohito, so it is perhaps appropriate that the park used to be a military airbase.
The park has a number of areas, including long avenues of trees that were in glorious yellow leaf today. After walking through those, Yuriko and I had lunch at a restaurant/cafe; Mayuki was still asleep. The lunch was quite good, and entirely reasonable, which often seems to be true of the food in such places here. Then we walked on to a large pond, or small lake, which had some red maples planted around it, and some boats out on the water.
We then started walking north, and noticed the cycle routes down below us, on a different level. You can hire bikes at the park, and then cycle round, and it looks like it would be a lot of fun. It’s fairly flat, so it wouldn’t be too difficult, and the surroundings are nice. We then passed an enormous grassed area, which looks like it would be great for children to play, and more trees in flower or turning leaves, depending on the species.
Finally, we reached the Japanese garden, which was what we were aiming for today. Mayuki was still asleep, but by this point we had noticed that it was coming up to four hours since she had had a feed, so we decided to wake her up. Yuriko fed her, while I made some formula (we’d brought the powder and a thermos of hot water). Of course, the formula didn’t cool down very quickly, so it was a while before Mayuki got to drink it, but she seemed happy enough; she fussed a bit, but after I carried her for a while she was happy to lie in the push chair and look around.
The Japanese garden was very nice; Yuriko took quite a few pictures, and I took a bit of video of Mayuki there. Unfortunately, it closed at four, so we had to make our way out. In fact, the whole park closed at 4:30, and we still had to walk back to the gate, which took about thirty minutes. At first, Mayuki was happy in the pushchair, but then she started complaining, so I took her out and carried her until we were out of the park. While I was carrying her, at least two groups of ladies spontaneously said “Isn’t she cute!”. This happened again while I was putting her back in the push chair to go back to the station, and then again on the bus home. According to Yuriko, it happens every time she takes her out, as well.
We used the formula to keep her quiet on the train home, and then fooled her with the empty bottle to keep her quiet in the bus. Over all, though, she was a very good girl all day, and at least she was awake and looking around for part of it. Obviously, she won’t explicitly remember any of it, but it might shape her attitude to parks, or something.
We are planning to go back. It might only be three times a year (spring, summer, and autumn), but it’s probably the easiest really big park for us to get to. I can see it playing much of the same role in Mayuki’s childhood as Etherow did in ours.
All in all, Yuriko and I had a really good day. We think Mayuki enjoyed it too.