Happy Wasted Day

It's New Years Eve! It's a happy time. However, it's still really cold here and I'm not having any luck with roller coasters again.

Two parks were on the schedule, and two parks I visited. One, Gyeongju World, had half of their coasters running by noon, but the others weren't opening for the day. So I rode what I could and left for the second park.

I was planning that second park to be Tongdo Fantasia, but I couldn't communicate with the woman working the intercity bus counter. I waited a long time for the bus back to the train station, but the timing worked out that I could get some instructions for tomorrow and head to Daegu.

Somewhere in town is a park that used to be called Woobang Towerland. It's now known as E-World. I arrived a bit after 4 pm and found that every coaster was closed due to the cold. I still rode a few rides and took a bunch of pictures.

All told, I spent about $200 including my train pass (the most of any day on my trip by a factor of two) and got on two roller coasters. Yup. I did stop at a small grocery store and buy some of that chili paste. I hope I can bring it on the plane!

I have a big decision for tomorrow now. Do I was down to Busan and sightsee (most tourist attractions will probably be closed for New Years), try to get to the other theme park and hope some coasters are open, or eat the rest of the train ticket and stay in Seoul? If I stay, what do I do? Again, it's New Years Day so most things will probably be closed.

Ugh. I really think I made a mistake coming here in winter, given my interests. Sure, the parks are open. You just can't ride anything. And there's no baseball. I should have gone to Kyoto.

Well, at least I have some spicy chicken hot pot for dinner. It's got that chili paste in the sauce.

Snowy Seoul: Too Much Museum!

I'm posting late (not that you really notice) because I got home late last night. Yesterday was a busy day for me!

Remember how it was snowing the last time I posted? Well, about an inch of snow (maybe more) fell overnight, and I got to see a nice wintery wonderland in the morning. Of course, it was really cold outside (-10 when I left the hostel) and there was ice under the snow.

I left a little late again, taking my time to have a nice shower, etc. My first destination was the War Memorial and Museum, only two stops away from Itaewon. They say to allow at least three hours to your the museum and it took me about that long. If you're really into war and you want to watch all the films, look at every exhibit in detail, and spend a lot of time outside looking at the old tanks, planes, and missiles, you could make an entire day of the place.

The museum is large, obviously, and about half of it is dedicated to the Korean War. The other half covers several thousands of years of defense against invading outsiders. I had a good time but the amount of material is a bit overwhelming. That said, I wish I could have spent more time outside. With snow everywhere, viewing the large machines wasn't as enjoyable.

From there I went off to my next lead for baseball souvenirs. I found the shop but it was closed (supposedly it should have been open but maybe they take Sundays off). I'll try to send an email and go back on the 2nd or 3rd. I could see inside and it was very promising, at least for the two local teams. Their website had a little bit for every team.

Back to the museums I went, this time to the National Museum. This impressive building houses a large collection of art and artifacts. There's so much here that again I was a bit overwhelmed. I'm not terribly into Asian art, although I enjoy seeing some of it. So I found myself hurrying through some of the exhibits.

Crowds on the bottom floor were pretty heavy so the rest felt neglected! There is a very popular food court; I had the spicy fried rice with chicken which was tasty. The food is freshly cooked and I could see them making my order.

Having spent about three hours each at the two museums, as planned, the rest of the afternoon was basically free. I spent it at Yongsan, where the electronics stores are. I saw plenty of computer parts, video games, and illegally copied DVDs (no, I didn't buy any) but my hopes for trading cards quickly flew away. I know there are gaming cards, but I can't even find those stores!

I grabbed some more street food here. This time it was grilled chicken on a stick, covered in that spicy chili sauce. It was awesome! I really need to bring back some chili sauce. From there I headed to the North Seoul Tower.

Sitting high on a hill, the tower gives a great view of all of Seoul. It's not that tall of a tower because it already has the benefit of being high to begin with. To get there, I took a diagonal lift and a cable car. Then, of course, the elevator to the top.

Not knowing too much about Seoul's layout, I didn't have much to look for as far as pictures are concerned. I tried to find the stadiums, but I was taking night shots and none of them were distinguishable. I waited a long time to get to the top - about 30-45 minutes for the cable car, followed by an hour for the elevator. And the wait for the elevator down was about 40 minutes. So my evening disappeared quickly.

I still had one more night stop - the brewpub I found a few days ago. The beers were pretty good (I had the sampler). But none of them were good enough for a full glass. The pale ales were their best brews, but I'm not a big fan of pale ales. I finally got back to my place about midnight!

So now it's about nine AM. I didn't hear my alarm go off and I missed my train by two hours! I'm now finally on my way to Busan, where I hope to have enough time to go to both amusement parks in the area. There is free wifi on the train (yay!) so I can get my writing and such finished. So until later...

A snowy run around Seoul's central tourist sites

After days of amusement parks (as with all my trips!) I finally spent an entire day away from theme rides.

With no crowds to stress about, I took it a little easier this morning. My feet were hurting pretty bad, and I still had the abrasions on my heels to worry about. I gingerly made my way to the nearest convenience store - only across the street and a short walk to the next corner. By the time I got there, my left foot was already bleeding again! Luckily they had bandages which worked perfectly for the whole day. In fact, I hope they survive my shower so I can keep them on tomorrow!

I was about thirty minutes behind "schedule" when I left Seoul Station, and I took an extra 30 minutes to eat real fast at a Dunkin Donuts. It was the only thing obviously available in the area but I won't make that mistake again. The donuts were fine and the hot chocolate was hot and chocolately, but I had a bacon egg and cheese sandwich that was subpar at best. Anyway, with food in my stomach I headed for my first tourist destination.

Where I was promptly shut out.

It turns out that the main gate near Seoul Station is being renovated, and is covered by scaffolding. What is it with me and national treasure gates being renovated? Berlin, Hiroshima, and now Seoul. Any others I forgot about?

I walked through some underground mall nearby for a few minutes before I finished the trip to City Hall. I didn't go to the hall, but across the street is a palace with a part of the Contemporary Art Museum inside. The art was okay, but it seems like Koreans are largely run-of-the-mill - at least they were prior to the end of World War II. Nothing more-recent was on display. There was an exhibition of photographs of the royal family here too, meaning I saw very little art today that didn't involve film or lenses.

I also happened to be there at the right time to see the insanely long, very complicated, overly ornate changing of the guards ceremony. I watched for a few minutes, went to the Seoul Art Museum across the street, and came back to find the ceremony was still occurring.

The Seoul Art Museum seems to house only special exhibitions. There was a Tim Burton exhibition for ₩12,000 that I didn't go to, instead browsing the free collection of photography. It was interesting but there was no English for any of the individual works.

A short walk from the city hall area brought me to the Agricultural Museum. Three floors of exhibits teaching me about Korea's harvesting roots (pardon the pun) were fairly run of the mill (pardon the pun). The dioramas were nice but uninspiring. And the bottom floor was essentially an advertisement for big business agriculture in Korea. That said, it was free.

Just up the street is yet another free museum. If you have kids, head to the National Police Heritage Museum. There's nothing new here, but children will love looking at the police stuff. The second floor is an experience wing, where you can stand behind bars, learn about crime solving, handcuff a perp, and simulate firing a gun. For kids, this is pretty awesome. I had no instruction in how to shoot the gun, but its just a glorified video game gun with compressed air to give a bit of kick. You get seven shots in 70 seconds, and they score you on your accuracy. I got a score of 16, while one of the girls shooting next to me scored a 53! I'm not sure how that happened. I did get second place in my group though. Anyway, for some reason you can only do this activity a few times a day, and participants must be over 11 years old.

It was only 2pm when I finished my itinerary, even though I started an hour late.

I chanced upon the Seoul History Museum, another free museum full of exhibits. They had a good bit detailing how the city has been built up to the metropolis it is now.

After that, I still had plenty of time to search for baseball cards!

My target today was an underground mall near Seoul Station. There were no baseball cards, in the normal sense of the word, but I found a bunch of stamps, some lottery tickets, and some phone cards. Phone cards aren't cheap, even though they are from the early 1990s and I only want them for the silly picture. I'll give a full overview (scans, etc) on my card blog in a couple weeks.

I finished the day back at Seoul Station asking for some help in my search for baseball souvenirs. The information booth lady was polite enough but not very helpful. On the way home, as I was entering the extremely crowded metro station, I had to push my way through the crowds. More on that later.

Dinner was at a kebab place here in Itaewon. Not bad. And I had my first korean beer, Dry Finish, made by Hite, I think. Really light. I need to get to that brewpub down the street though.

Tomorrow, I'll do three big spots: the National Museum, War Memorial and Museum, and the North Seoul Tower. Plus I have yet another lead in the hunt for Korean souvenirs. So wish me luck until then...

Looking for Old stuff in Seoul

It was cold yet again this morning, though not as cold as the rest of the week. I think the temperature actually got above freezing at one point. That didn't stop a bit of snow from falling.

I started off my day at another amusement park: Seoul Land, located on the south side. I arrived about 10 minutes before the park opened at 9:30 and bought my tickets. A group of four high school-aged girls were waiting with me, but where were the crowds?

I took pictures along the way, and rode one ride at the same time as the girls, continuing then to shoot photos and travel around the loop. I came to discover that many of the rides wouldn't open until 10:10 or later, which wasn't a problem as I kept taking pictures and riding what was open, similar to my trip yesterday.

I figured out why nobody else was in line, too. There is a "back" entrance to the park where everyone who drove was coming in. There weren't many families, but there were tons of elementary school groups. Thankfully they stayed away from me (keeping lines short). I think most of them went off to play on the snow hill the park runs until March.

I got all my rides in by 12:30 or so, with just a little bit of waiting at a few rides because of the school children. This was so much better than Lotte World as far as waiting went. Unfortunately, there aren't many rides at Seoul Land I really liked, and there were flurries in the air. Having accomplished my goals, I took the 1km walk back to the station.

I had planned on visiting the zoo, but because it was so cold, overcast, and a light snow was falling, I assumed the animals wouldn't be worth seeing. So I headed off to look for baseball memorabilia again.

I started with the Janganpyeong Antique Market, just outside Sapsimni Station. I found another sheet of the baseball "menko" cards I had seen at the Folk Flea Market, and while the price was still a bit higher than I wanted, I picked up the uncut sheet plus an AstroBoy (or whatever his name is) sheet for half what the other woman wanted. After looking through four buildings of antiques, I had no further luck. Then again, professional baseball didn't start in Korea until the 1980s so none of it would be antique.

I pressed on, finally getting to the Hwanghakdong Flea Market near Sindang Station. Actually it's closer to another station, but I walked through a food market to get there. I found pretty much everything you could imagine at Hwanghakdong. But no Korean baseball stuff.

I found a great deal on candy, and paid only ₩3000 (about $3) for a Korean mask plaque. It's my souvenir of traditional Korea, and I got it for about 1/10th the price if I had bought it in a store. I also bought a skillet (₩7000/$7) so I have a nice smaller one too. And I played one of those crane games (except it was a plunger game) and with my skill it took only two goes to win a baseball. The box has korean writing on it and a photo of a Korean player for the Indians (his name eludes me right now), plus the baseball probably carries his signature (facsimile of course).

So I suppose I have a couple korean baseball souvenirs. But I really want some good team merchandise, and a few baseball cards too! I've spent a good bit of time in the evenings researching using all sorts of keywords to try for some luck in locating any kind of souvenirs, and I have another lead for tomorrow. Keep your fingers crossed!

Meanwhile, I tried some more street food. For lunch, I had ddeokbokki, which is rice cakes and fish cake stewed in a chili paste. Spicy and delicious. I may have to bring home some chili paste or powder and stir fry it in with some veggies and chicken at home. I also had a couple Chinese style donuts and fish cake broth. Still haven't had the fish cakes, though they are quite popular. I haven't seen enough meat though, strangely enough. I see plenty of corn dogs, and I suppose I have to try a Korean corn dog soon.

For dinner, it was back to Itaewon to have a light meal. I ended up with a meat pie, almost Aussie style (it used thinner, crispier dough more like filo than crust dough. Pretty good.

Have I complained about my feet yet? My heels have been worn down; I now realize than both feet were bleeding from abrasions with my shoes. I think I'm going to find some new shoes tomorrow designed for walking, as the ones I wore are more for style.

I'm now able to say I'm having a great time here. If only I could have success with baseball souvenirs! Tomorrow I'm either going to a couple major museums and North Seoul Tower - if the weather clears up - or I'll head to Seoul Station and visit a few museums in that area.

Until then!

Ever-cold in Everland

Today was much better than yesterday.

I got my butt out of bed on time, took my shower, and hit the road for Everland. From the Itaewon area, it took about two hours to get there via Gangnam Station and highway bus. I got there before the park opened, and made a bee line for the back, where what at least one person called The Best Coaster in Korea sits. Did I mention it's freezing cold?

All the coasters and thrill rides were closed in the morning due to low temperatures, similar to my experience at Lotte World. Unlike Lotte, Everland has a ton of other attractions and is really large. This gave me the opportunity to ride pretty much everything else I had on my to-try list. I also spent a good bit of time and energy taking pictures of the fun theming.

I ate a couple snacks at Everland, both chicken by chance. I had read the food wasn't too good so I tried to go the safe route. First, I tried their popcorn chicken. Not bad - it was fresh and hot and tasted like I suppose it should. Later, I picked up some meat on a stick (Koreans love meat on sticks) which turned out to be chicken again, covered in a sticky spicy sauce. It wasn't great but it was good enough.

By 1pm, almost everything was open - except T Express, the impressive wooden coaster. I spent another 90 minutes or so riding the thrill rides and coasters before heading back to catch the bus across the mountain to Suwon.

I had planned to be in Suwon by 3, to have two hours to explore the old palace found there. Correction: I originally planned to be there at nine in the morning, but my fear of crowds at Everland made me switch those plans. In retrospect, I should have gone to Suwon first. But anyway, I didn't get on the bus until around 2:45, and the clock struck four just before I crossed through the palace gates.

The palace is quite large. I spent the full hour I had left before the place closed walking around, looking through the maze of buildings, and taking way too many pictures. There isn't much (actually, there's nothing) inside the palace buildings, but signs describe what each building was and its purpose. The servants quarters had some displays, as did the main building. Have you ever wondered what it's like to climb into a rice box big enough to hold (and suffocate) a prince? You have the chance here.

An entire world of exploring up the mountain was ignored due to time; on a mother trip I might return and explore the additional grounds. I should add that my bus ride took me by the famous temple gate. It was scaffolded for repairs.

Riding buses here can be confusing if you're not sure if you're going the right direction. I picked up a bus I thought was going to Suwon Station, but instead took another hour-long ride to a different train station. From there, it was about another hour until I was back in the vicinity of Itaewon.

I spread my money around on dinner tonight. I started with poutine at a place called The Poutine Factory. Not bad, though I think we have different definitions of gravy going on here. I had the pulled pork poutine and I could taste all the different, great flavors in each bite.

From there I stopped for a bulgogi taquito from Taco Bell - good but not special enough. And then I grabbed some street food. Again I had chicken on a stick with some kind of barbecue sauce - it's basically the same as yakitori back in Japan. I also had a dozen little dumplings. Fried fresh, I basted them with soy sauce and then dipped them in hot sauce for an added kick. Really good without the hot sauce, mind you. But I like spicy.

So that completes my day. It went by fast. My feet are killing me (and I have an abrasion on one of my heels - gonna need a bandaid tomorrow). But it was good. I had a lot of fun and accomplished 98% of what I wanted (except that single coaster).

Tomorrow, yet another theme park (Korea's first - Seoul Land) and the zoo next door if time permits. I'm expecting it will. So until then...

One day in Korea down

Does that title make it sound like this trip is a chore?

I was pretty excited to be taking this trip. There are several theme parks on my itinerary, which I usually look forward to. I'm in a country with a baseball league, so I could collect some new memorabilia. And there's all that great Korean food to try!

Let's see.

Today was supposed to be spent at Lotte World. It's Korea's answer to Disneyland. I think every single Korean middle school and high school student was there today. I got there when I thought the park was opening (9:30) but it seems to have opened at nine. Lines were outrageous for the indoor rides, and only one ride on the outdoor side of the park (an underground roller coaster) was open as far as I could tell.

Everything else was closed. The indoor coaster had a posted wait time of over an hour already. The park was a zoo. Thankfully, I was able to get a refund. But I won't be getting on any Lotte World rides on this vacation.

Having most of the day left for whatever I wanted, I strolled around the next-door mall for a short while before heading to the baseball stadium. It isn't baseball season but I was hoping to but some merchandise anyway. Yeah, not happening. Korean baseball doesn't exist if it's not baseball season.

I managed to go to three sites today: Seodaemun Prison, the National Assembly, and the Folk Flea Market. The prison was supposed to be a highlight of this trip, and it was better than expected - almost everything I could have hoped it would be.

The Assembly was okay, mainly because I didn't expect much. I was lookin for some baseball stuff at the flea market, and I didn't come out empty handed. But I overpaid for the one small thing I bought and didn't get another because the sales lady was crazy about her pricing.

As for Korean food, I haven't really tried any. I didn't eat lunch today. Last night I had Taco Bell for dinner and tonight I had KFC. I'm staying in Itaewon, which is full of foreigners. That means I am able to eat a lot of things I haven't had access to in Japan. Don't worry, I'll get my fill of Korean flavors soon enough.

I tried something from a street vendor today - some kind of bean paste with batter around it similar to the momiji manju I had in Hiroshima. These were fresh and warm and even better. Plus I had an egg one too, which was a whole cooked egg wrapped in the batter. I'll be having more of both as I continue my vacation.

Tomorrow, I'm planning to go to Seoul's other major amusement park, Everland. It's supposed to be really busy too and I'm not really looking forward to fighting crowds all day. I also need to find time to get over to a historic palace in the afternoon, which leaves even less time at the park.

No pictures today. The wifi at my hostel sucks, big time. Plus I didn't have a way of charging my phone so I didn't use it to take pictures today, so I couldn't add them if I wanted to. But whatever. I'm in a rotten mood and its really late anyway. I just hope this trip doesn't turn out as bad as my Taiwan trip started.

Off to Korea!

In about an hour, I'm heading over to mainland Asia for the first time ever. I'll be in Seoul in time for dinner!

Over the next several days, I'm checking out amusement parks and cultural sites, visiting museums, riding South Korea's version of the bullet train, and hopefully grabbing some unique Korean baseball souvenirs.

I plan to post about my adventures daily. Unlike my trip to Taiwan this summer, I have a single home base for the whole trip, so I won't be spending hours getting to a new hotel every other night.

By the way, a small comment about getting out of Japan: it is so easy! I'm leaving at midday on a work day, so it seem like crowds are pretty light to begin with, but there were no lines or delays while getting through security or immigration. The longest line was at the check-in counter for the airline, but since I wasn't checking any bags I was second in a shorter line.

So stay tuned, my friends! Until I land in Seoul...

The smells of Japan

Every once in a while I have to just come out and complain.

I'm riding a train to hang out with my friend. It involves a few train transfers, and on this particular train, I have spent the past 25 minutes sitting next to someone with god-awful breath. Like, this guy crapped in his hands and ate it bad. Thankfully he just got off the train, but man that was bad. There are others too with bad breath. I try to be aware of mine and I'm sure I don't always have the greatest odor, but sometimes you gotta wonder how people go through their day like that. Isn't his girlfriend bothered by it?

But that just got me thinking. Sometimes my students have body odor. I think one of my junior high students this week played some sports right before class. It wasn't pleasant, I can assure you.

Walking outside, you are frequently greeted by the smell of food, but just as often you catch a whiff of someone's cigarette smoke. Smoking is much more common here than in the US.

And then, when you've escaped the people and their breath, body odor, and cigarette smoke, you get assaulted by the sewers. Rain gutters are under/beside the sidewalks, covered by large concrete slabs. And I'm sure there's some connection to the sewers. When they start to dry out, the stench wafts up from the ground, forming pockets of noxious gas.

Don't get me wrong, all of Japan doesn't stink. But be prepared for the bad smells as well as the good!

I was Santa!

Today was my last teaching day of the year; I'm on vacation for a couple weeks now! We had our children's Christmas party today and in addition to teaching a bunch of regular classes and playing Christmas games, I spent a while taking photos dressed up as Saint Nick.

I've mentioned gift giving in Japan before. A few of our students brought Christmas gifts this week, and one of my adorable ex-students (now being taught by a different teacher due to a schedule change) gave me a great little box. Inside are some appetizing-looking chocolates!

So while it was a busy day (and difficult because I said goodbye to another of my favorite students) I had a great time!

Meanwhile, the blog has been kind of silent lately because I've been busy prepping for my vacation. I plan on posting from South Korea starting around Tuesday. Yep, Christmas! If I don't write until then, have a great weekend!

Location: Gyokushin Mitsuin Temple/Tamagawa Daishi

It's time to take a religious pilgrimage.
 From the outside, Gyokushin Mitsuin Temple (more commonly known as Tamagawa Daishi)  looks like any other small neighborhood temple. In fact, it's tucked away in a suburban Tokyo neighborhood amongst houses and apartments. It took a pretty good map and about 10 minutes of walking from the nearest station to find.
 The flowers outside were in bloom, and there were enough to add a nice fragrance to the air.
 To the right of the entrance, a small path brings you to a small garden area.
 Several small statues and pots are here, crammed into a tiny space.
 I don't read Japanese, so I can't tell you anything about this.
 This samurai might have been the tallest piece in the courtyard.
Nearby, more Gods watch over. Yes, okay, it's like any other temple on the outside. Statuaries grouped together outside. What makes this place so special?
Take a glance inside. Again, nothing too special here. But take off your shoes at the entrance and go in. Head to the left.

See the stairs? Put on a pair of slippers there, place 100 yen on the wooden tray, and descend into the bowels of the Buddha. You'll spend a large portion of your trip in complete darkness on a pilgrimage that visits 88 Buddha statues. The basement snakes through some very narrow portions, all designed to resemble passing through Buddha's intestines. Don't worry, the walls are dry.

While it is a bit out of the way from the rest of Tokyo, it is a great way to spend 100 yen and maybe you'll be enlightened too!
To get to Tamagawa Daishi, take a train to Futakotamagawa, and take the west exit. Turn right and follow the major road; eventually the Atsugi Highway will pass over and remain on top of the road. By that point you want to be walking on the left side of the road. The road will split to either side of the highway, and once the ivy wall nearly ends you'll see a set of covered stairs heading straight down. Take the stairs, and turn right at the bottom to cross over the aquaduct and follow the path between the road and some houses. At the next road, turn left; follow the road and you'll see the temple on the right! Yes, it's confusing. Use the map above to help.

Location: Opening Ceremony

 Shibuya is where Tokyo's in-style ladies and gentlemen head to shop for clothing, while the rich buy couture in Ginza and teenagers get their threads in Harajuku. One of the biggest (though not the busiest) clothing stores in Shibuya is Opening Ceremony.
 The store feels almost empty. Unlike most stores in Tokyo, wide open spaces and attention to decoration gives the feeling that you're less in a clothing store and more in a gallery of wearable art. Perhaps that's the idea here?
 Each of the eight floors is unique and tells its own story, with different styles of clothing or, in the case of the above picture, a collection of accessories and home decorations (wait, what?).
 As you enter each floor, a new world emerges. I wish I could take pictures of all the fantastic displays to show you how fun this store is. More photos and details are available on their website.
Someone signed the wall, though the signature isn't quite in the photo.

Opening Ceremony is located on the same street as the Disney Store. If you're facing the store, head to the right, and look for the giant entry. To get there from Shibuya Station, use the scramble to cross over toward Starbucks, and walk with Starbucks on your left. After crossing Inokashira Dori, follow the fork/curve to the left; you should quickly pass the Disney Store on your left. Keep walking about two more buildings and you're there! The store is open from 10-9 (8 on Sundays). I'm not sure if you'll find something to buy, but you'll certainly enjoy the experience.

Location: Yoyogi Park

Tokyo doesn't have a lot of recreational spots, but it has one gem. New York has Central Park, San Francisco has Golden Gate Park, and the residents of Japan's biggest city head to Yoyogi when they want some green space.
 Most people probably use the nearby subway stations or come from Harajuku, but I walked from Shibuya Station. Along the way, I saw NHK Studios, which I'll tour at some point.
 Then, there is a long tree-lined promenade. Most days you'll find all sorts of performers and speaker, but when I visited there were only a few groups.
 All the action was in the plaza at the end of the promenade. Was there a cosplay convention going on? Nope, those are just loligoth girls hawking their new cd at...
 An Asian festival. Since Japanese people love to eat, most of the stalls had all sorts of ethnic food. The lines were horrendously long so I just made my way through the crowd on to the park itself.
 After crossing a bridge, I finally get to Yoyogi Park. It's comprised of trees and fields, mostly. Just like a park should be.
 It's where people come to run, jog, walk, have a picnic, play a little catch, or practice talents like martial arts or musical instruments. I saw some guy playing a saxophone under a tree.
 The clouds overhead threatened rain - there was a short downpour as soon as I left the park - and most people were probably at the festival, so crowds were light.
 The park wasn't empty though, and I saw a lot of people near this lake with a fountain. There is a short promenade approaching it where several groups were spread out to enjoy the weather while they could.
 The pond/lake is nicely landscaped.
 You can walk along the edge of the water.
 This area of the park is really nice. That's why I have so many pictures.
 Yes, I took another.
 One more for good measure. I see a bridge out there!
 Continuing on the path on the south side of the park, headed toward Harajuku, I saw a nice garden. Here, you can see that there were a lot of people out for a stroll, even if they didn't go deep into the park.
 These pink flowers were in bloom.
 What kind of flower is this?
And one to grow on. I like macro shots involving flowers, if you couldn't tell.

There's a lot more to Yoyogi Park, though it's mostly paths with fields and trees. And Tokyo doesn't have a lot of space like that. There are landscaped gardens throughout the town, but it's difficult to find a little green space to sit under a tree and enjoy a sandwich with friends and family.

The best way to get to Yoyogi Park, in my mind, is from Shibuya, after walking through the shopping insanity you find there. Then you can make your way through the promenade and around the park as you wish.

 If the temptation for shopping in Shibuya is too great, Harajuku and Yoyogikoen Stations are on either side of the park. I recommend starting from Yoyogikoen, and being sure to swing south to the promenade and on to Shibuya after exiting around Harajuku. The walkable portion of the park isn't very large and could be done in 1-2 hours depending on how much time you stop to smell the roses (if there are any). As a comparison, it took me almost a full day to circle around and explore Central Park in New York.