Tokyo Day 3b: The Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden and…Sayonara!

Since this is our last day (can’t leave the cats for too long and both children who were minding the cats, also have to get back to work), we decided to take it free and easy, so it’s another park in the afternoon.

The temperature on the two previous days had been about 14 degrees, but on this Monday, it was a comfortable 18 degrees.

Shinjuku Gyoen was constructed on the site of a private mansion belonging to Lord Naito, a “daimyo”(feudal lord) of the Edo era. Completed in 1906 as an imperial garden, it was re-designated as a national garden after the Second World War and opened to the public. With 58.3 ha(144 acres) in size and a circumference of 3.5 km, it blends three distinct styles, French Formal Garden, English Landscape Garden and Japanese Traditional Garden, and is considered to be one of the most important gardens from the Meiji era.


It is a huge park and it would take several hours to walk about.


Alcoholic beverages are not allowed inside a national garden. There is a security check where guards politely requests that you open your bags and if there are water bottles, they request to smell the contents. All is done very, very politely and in a friendly manner.

The entrance fee is only 200Y per person.

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A tea house where one experiences the Japanese tea ceremony.

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Of course, the Japanese traditional garden takes up the biggest portion of the park.

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Pink sakura!

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This is the French inspired garden.

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The English-styled portion is a large lawn.


We spent the whole afternoon in this park.

Since Monday was our last day and we had to get to the airport, it was time to go. We took the trains back to Ueno to collect our luggage. I had earlier read that in Japan, there appears to be a dilemma on giving up one’s seat to the elderly because it could be perceived as rather offensive as their elderly are generally very strong and healthy. So what does one do then? It was suggested that if you wish to offer your seat to the elderly, you do so in an indirect way, ie. you get up and walk away and leave the seat empty. If the elderly person wishes to sit, he or she may.

I witnessed this on board the train but it was a slightly different scenario. This young baseball player (probably in his early twenties) got up and offered his seat to a white-haired gentleman who had stepped onto the train with his black-haired wife. The white-haired gentleman was very thankful and sat down, but immediately gestured to his wife to tell her what the baseball player had done for him. His wife bowed to the baseball player and she remained standing. Now, that was quite touching.


Smoking used to be prevalent on the streets of Japan, but not anymore now. Education is ongoing to prohibit smoking while walking on the streets.


We got back to Ueno quite early and decided to take a stroll along one of their many “Petaling Street” equivalents. It was really interesting watching the things on sale. Even though it was a Monday, there was an air of celebration and it was very crowded.

We went into a small Uniqlo shop as well. The latest spring designs were being sold. There were some familiar designs (which the Malaysian Uniqlo stores carry) and after conversion, inclusive of their 8% GST, it is still cheaper to buy the same item in Japan than in Malaysia!

Soon, it was time to say “Arigato Gozaimasu” and “Sayonara” to Tokyo.


We took the train and monorail to the airport.

Security check at Haneda airport was a truly pleasant experience as the officers were extremely polite. Even at the check-in counter, the staff started on time (on the precise dot) and bowed before proceeding with their work.

While taxiing off for departure, the ground staff stood in a row and saluted the pilot and co-pilot, then they bowed. According to Jia-Wen who flies there often, if only the captain salutes back and the co-pilot happens to be too busy, the ground staff will stand saluting until the co-pilot salutes back. Then this is followed by a bow. Such is the politeness of the Japanese people.

Jia-Wen says that in Thailand, the ground staff will also stand in a row and clasp their hands in respect as the aircraft taxies off for departure. In some other countries, the ground staff waves too, but in Malaysia…er, no, there is no such practice.

We are also deeply impressed by how helpful the Japanese people are. The older Japanese speak a smattering of English while the younger ones do not. Signage contain very little English, but is sufficient for us to get by with. I appreciate how proud the Japanese is of their culture and why they insist on speaking Japanese. I respect that very much. And yet, tourists are never left in the lurch. The Japanese people make sure that we can get by and they help us along by drawing maps and speaking Japanese…slowly! Now, that’s quite an achievement, isn’t it?

We had a wonderful taste of the Japanese culture and their beautiful people during our three-day stay. Short but oh-so-sweet and wonderful.

The flight took more than 7 hours (against the wind) and was rather turbulent, but it was at night, so we slept on board. It was comfortable since we traveled on business class.

We landed at KLIA2 right on the dot, security check back home…er, wasn’t very friendly. We headed straight home and got caught in the peak hour traffic jam.

Home sweet home!


Here’s Vincent and Mr Zurik greeting us as we drove into the porch.


Daffodil was at the front door.

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As you know, cats don’t greet you as heartily as dogs, but they still do greet you. Daffodil was a little angry that we had “gone missing” for 4 days. Throughout the 4 days, Ming-Yi and Jia-Wen kept us abreast with news from home, through whatsapp, complete with photos as well. I was particularly concerned about Vincent, but they managed to make him eat every meal. Whenever there was wifi, I was able to answer some emails (as you know, they do not stop coming!), but I did leave a vacation responder on my email.

Now, there is tons of AnimalCare work to catch up with – I thought I’ll tell you all my stories before starting up on the neutering aid posts tomorrow.

And Pet Fiesta is coming up this Friday (Yes, we have a booth – please come visit us at the Setia City Convention Centre and if you are able to help out, please just come. The event is from 11am to 9pm and yes, I am short-handed – just come during the opening hours, if you can help, even for an hour or two.).


The most precious momento from our Hachiko-Tokyo visit, a Hachiko soft-toy from the Museum of Nature and Science where the real Hachiko resides.

5 comments to Tokyo Day 3b: The Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden and…Sayonara!

  • Thanks for sharing your beautiful photos, I felt that I have travelled along with you. True the dogs will be leaping up and down when they see us back!

  • Pooi Ling

    I love your narration of your trip. Looked like you had a great trip. 🙂

  • Yen Ling

    Very nicely documented trip. Good to have you back and I am sure the cats are happy too.

  • jasmine

    I am so glad you finally took some time off for a well deserved holiday. Thank you so much for sharing your trip and all the beautiful photos with us. Love your narration, enjoyed reading them very much and looking at your photos. Actually read them more than once 🙂 I hope you will take more short holidays with your hubby. You really need a break from all the hard work that you do in AnimalCare everyday. Take care.

    • chankahyein

      Hi Sis Jasmine, Couldn’t leave the cats all these years because I was worried of what might happen (emergencies, etc.) but this trip, my worries were unfounded as Ming-Yi and Jia-Wen took really good care of them. Jia-Wen took off from work while Ming-Yi took leave for two days. I guess the cats did miss us a bit because Daffodil was clearly “angry” that we’d left them alone. She made that known to us after we came back!! I was particularly concerned about Vincent and his gum condition but we had already bought the tickets before he got sick and it wasn’t easy to get the tickets under short notice. The children managed to make Vincent eat at least twice a day and they updated us with photo news every day! I thought I’d be extremely homesick on this trip but I wasn’t…! It is, of course, great to be home, but while we were there, it was really a wonderful experience. It gave me a lot of insights as to how we all can be better people with the practice of more courtesy, politeness and thoughtfulness.