My Tokyo Guide
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Updated: February 28, 2019
Take a stroll through historic gardens, treat yourself to an al fresco canal-side meal, before pampering yourself with a soak in a natural hot spring—all in the old neighborhood of Kudanshita.
Kudanshita Station is best known as the nearest station to such historic landmarks as the Nippon Budokan, which was built for the judo competition at the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games. The hilly area, which literally translates to "bottom of nine steps," is located to the north of the Imperial Palace. It is easily accessible via the Tokyo Metro Tozai and Hanzomon lines, and the Toei Shinjuku Line.
Your stroll aptly begins at two Edo-style gates that welcome visitors to this day, even though the original Edo Castle had been destroyed in a fire in the late 19th century. The beatific walk into what was once home to extended family members of the Tokugawa shogunate, the rulers during the Edo period (1603–1867), will take you away from the urban city with its extensive lawns, ponds and lush greenery. It was later converted into a garden and open to the public. If you are visiting in spring, you will be treated to one of Tokyo's best cherry blossom views, with the delicate cherry trees hanging over the moat of the former castle. If modern art or science is your cup of tea, you may wish to also spend some time at The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo or the Science Museum which are located at one end of the Kitanomaru Garden.
Experience Europe in the heart of Tokyo at the Canal Cafe, located on the fringe of the trendy Kagurazaka district that is also known as the local "French Quarter." Upon arrival at the Canal Cafe, you will be struck by its laid-back vibe. Rest your feet over a Western lunch or a beverage on the cafe's waterside patio deemed to be one of the city's best alfresco dining spots. Fish food is available on sale at the reception if you wish to feed the huge goldfish in the canal.
Continue on to Koishikawa Korakuen Gardens, one of Tokyo's oldest and most traditional parks. Built in 1629 and opened to visitors in 1938, it was named after the famous Chinese saying, "Be the first to bear the world's hardship, and the last to enjoy its comfort." The gardens' network of walking trails is a natural escape from the urban jungle. While attractive all year round, you'll be in for a treat if you visit in October or November, when the maple trees turn into stunning hues of orange and red.
End your day with a relaxing soak at the Japanese-style Spa LaQua hot spring facility that is located in the Tokyo Dome City entertainment complex. When you check in, you will be given a wristband to which expenses will be charged as you bathe, drink, dine and spend your time there. The onsen taps water from 1,700 meters below ground for its numerous bathing options across different floors, including indoor baths and saunas, as well as outdoor baths and relaxation areas.