Wednesday, March 19, 2008

53. Amusement Review: Tokyo Dome City (Bunkyo-ku)

A section of Bunkyo Ward, Koraku is an entertainment playground. The centerpiece is the famous Tokyo Dome, but it is surrounded by an area called 'Tokyo Dome City'.

An amusement park takes up a large part of this area. Rides seem to hang over the city streets, and they actually go through buildings and each other! They can all be ridden separately, or an 'all you can ride' pass can be purchased. The amusement park is built into the Tokyo Dome City, so it is free to walk around the rides.
Built halfway around the amusement park is 'La Qua', a building filled with over 70 shops and restaurants. There is also a natural hot springs spa built into the upper floors.

Towering over everything is the 155 meter Tokyo Dome Hotel. I recommend having the buffet lunch at the 'Artist's Cafe' on the 43rd floor. Named after the artists that perform in the Tokyo Dome, make sure you reserve ahead of time to get a table right by the window. The city views are fantastic! If you are in the area at night, stop by the bar for the same great view, often with live music performances.

Also within the Tokyo Dome City is the 'Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum' (see next review). The Tokyo Dome itself hosts over 60 baseball games a year, as well as a number of other sporting events (boxing, American football, monster trucks,...). There are also special exhibitions, the most famous being the yearly 'International Great Quilt Festival' held every January (photo below).

The Tokyo Dome City also contains the largest JRA WINS horse race betting complex in Tokyo. Here you'll see many down-on-their-luck Japanese men hanging out, smoking heavily, trying to win their way out of disfortune. A large game center is beside WINS, in addition to games there are batting cages, bowling, and more.

For English information on everything I've mentioned, visit this site:

Access: Tokyo Dome City is located in the southwest corner of Bunkyo Ward. Korakuen Station (on the Marunouchi and Namboku Subway Lines) and Suidobashi Station (Mita Subway Line and JR Chuo Line) puts you right in the center of the 'City'. It is also a very short walk from Kasuga and Iidabashi Stations. Here is a nice map of the area:

52. Garden Review: Koishikawa Korakuen (Bunkyo-ku)

Koishikawa Korakuen is one of Tokyo's oldest and most beautiful Japanese landscape gardens. The Tokugawa daimyo (feudal lord) Yorifusa Mito began construction of the park in 1629. It was completed by his successor, the famous Mitsukuni Mito, as part of his daimyo yashiki (feudal lord residence). Mitsukuni Mito was interested in Chinese teachings, so he named the garden 'Korakuen'. Koraku means 'enjoying afterwards', from a Chinese proverb stating 'a governor should worry before his people and enjoy after his people'. The landscape design incorporates a mix of Chinese and Japanese influences.When built, the residence helped guard the approach to Edo Castle from the north. It also protected the Kanda Aqueduct, Edo's main water source. There was an arsenal at this location from 1867, and it was eventually turned into a public park and national historic site in 1952.
This photo shows an area of the garden where rice was planted, raised, and harvested by Mitsukuni Mito's son. Mitsukuni thought it was important for his son to know how difficult it was to grow the precious crop.

I recommend doing some research on Mitsukuni Mito before visiting this garden. Many TV series have been created about this incredible man, the most famous is the fictionalized 'Mito Komon'.

Admission: 300 yen
Open everyday, except during the New Year's holidays
Hours of Operation: 9:00 - 17:00

Address: Koraku 1-6-6, Bunkyo-ku
A short walk from Iidabashi or Korakuen Stations. It is right behind the Tokyo Dome.
Phone: 03-3811-3015