In the heart of Tokyo city is a special ward called Chiyoda city. The heart of Chiyoda city is the Imperial Palace, where the Emperor of Japan lives, and this alone attracts tourists. However, the locals often go to Chiyoda for the scenic 5km jogging course.
On-grounds map, with the 5km jogging course highlighted in yellow
I walked the whole 5km jogging area, expecting to come across a few entrances to explore the inner grounds. And I saw at least 4 entrances. But they were all blocked off, and guards were stationed to ensure no one got in…The only area that was free-for-all is the very top-left rectangular portion, the Kokyogaien National Garden, and a bit of the East Garden. With the East Garden, you are only allowed to explore a little corner of the grounds, and not the whole “island”/section.
There is a FREE East Garden tour that happens on Saturdays at 1pm! I could have gone on it because I happened to visit on a Saturday, but I didn’t, because it was 2.5 hours long and I preferred to just walk in peace at my own pace. I never got a kick out of these kind of tours anyway. Maybe I would have been allowed into the more intimate parts of the grounds if I had gone on the tour…
This is the free tour website: http://www.tfwt.jp/Pages/default.aspx
Mind you, late February is definitely not the prime time to come here, or Japan in general. The cherry blossoms are not in bloom and some breeds of trees are naked and boney and sad-looking.
I still had a good time, enjoying the scenic 5km path.
The jogging path by the waters. I went on a Saturday morning, and there were many locals running in jogging gear and tourists strolling and taking pictures.
Carefully trimmed bonsai trees (or at least, I think) in Kyokogaien.
Must take a lot of money to maintain.
Some important white house back there, no signage to indicate what it is. Entry is blocked.
After a nice walk around Kyokogaien, and I got back on the jogging course.
As can be seen from the jogging course.
Blocked off entrance #2
Free admission to the East Garden. A short route, 10 minutes at most. Depends on how many pictures you take.
Early sakura blooms in late Feb. There were a few trees that were ahead of the others.
Nekked trees in East Garden (late February).
Old ladies sitting and painting watercolor on small canvases in the East Garden.
Got out of the East Garden, back on to my jogging route (that I walked, like the fatass I am).
Senior gentlemen taking pics of the early-bloom sakura.
I waited until they were done and took pics too.
Blocked off entrance #3
This was a designated photo spot. Would look beautiful when the leaves come in, instead of these bare branches.
Blocked off entrance #4
When I finished my 5km, I walked back to my hostel.
On my way back to the hostel, I saw a fishing area.
Boat house for your rental needs in the fishing area.
Father and son spending quality time on a Saturday morning.
I would definitely go back to Chiyoda again when I return to Japan. Such a peaceful and scenic walk.