Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden

Sublime Moments ot Realization
After reading a series of recent posts on Afar that say things like "travel has taught me X,Y,and Z," I got to thinking: what has travel really "taught" me? Has it taught me to be nicer to people? More tolerant? More..."worldly" or educated? I would say no to all that. Travel hasn't "taught" me anything. Rather, travel has gently reminded me that my attentions were focused on other things, and that as busy as I was, the world got on without me just fine, and nowhere was that more clear than in Japan. Stepping into Tokyo was my first major travel experience, and it is one I'll never forget. I wanted to go big, and I hit the jackpot here. As a white American male of European descent, I felt like a total alien in Tokyo. Make no mistake: in Japan, outsiders stand out, and this island nation of respect and honor reminded me that nothing I had learned in life meant much of anything here. I was an outsider, plain and simple. I remember spending a few days in Tokyo and suddenly feeling the intense apprehension of culture shock, and I spent an entire day in the hotel room frozen in fear! Once I got over that, I ventured out to Shinjuku and opened my eyes to the scene (and photo) attached to this highlight. Seeing these artists in the Shinjuku Gyoen park painting familiar subjects with familiar techniques reminded me that maybe we really aren't that different, and that appearances are really just details.

Travel as a "teacher" is a myth. You are your own teacher.
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Escape the Crowds at Tokyo's Shinjuku Gyoen
Shinjuku Gyoen, located near Shinjuku Station, is a posh park with French, English, and Japanese gardens. The 200 yen (about $2) entrance fee keeps the park from becoming overcrowded. It’s an idyllic setting for a picnic with its sprawling lawns and views of Shinjuku’s skyscrapers. Open 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily, the park is about a ten-minute walk southeast of Shinjuku Station.
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11 Naitōmachi, Shinjuku-ku, Tōkyō-to 160-0014, Japan
+81 3-3350-0151