photo by Kathleen Paulsson
Over the weekend we took the boys for a walk through the Institute for Nature Study's amazing piece of property in Shirokanedai. Once you enter the grounds you feel completely separated from the big city, even though the place is smack in the middle of it. It's enclosed by a high wall that makes it feel truly protected. (An expressway runs all along its western border, and the Teien art museum is at its south end. See below for directions.)
There are some very, very old trees here. The trails wind through and around forest, marsh and pond habitats, and there's lots of pretty flora, though all markers are in Japanese, which, sadly, I still can't read, even after all this time living here. In spring there are cherry blossoms. For more information, visit the website. English page is here.
Note that there are strict rules. Specifically: "Please do not disturb other visitors by singing, jogging, dancing, or playing catch." (This is not Yoyogi Park, people.) Also: Please do not release any alien animals, especially fishes, turtles, or cats, as alien species of plants and animals disturb the ecosystem. (Fair enough.) No alcohol, radios or musical instruments. And no picking flowers or leaves or taking seeds home. You can smoke (Japan's still not there yet), but only at the benches that have ashtrays (at least we have that).
Admission is cheap at twice the price: 300 yen for adults, under 18 free. Visitors are given pink ribbons to wear. Conor balked at first. ("Who! WHO will not wear dee ribbon?!")
The Institute for Nature Study (Shizen kyoiku en)
5-21-5 Shirokanedai, Minato-ku, Tokyo 108-0071
Tel: 03-3441-7176 Fax: 03-3441-7012 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The only entrance to the park is on Meguro dori - heading south on Gaien Nish dori, cross Meiji-dori at Tengenji bashi, and bear left onto Platinum dori. At Meguro dori, turn right, and it's past a little park on your right. Here's a map: