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In the great city of Tokyo, the summer heat is particularly pervasive. Everywhere you look, people are bustle between crowded buildings and the hot pavement. The heat and the tension get trapped within that city bubble. You might think there’s no escaping it without a trip to the countryside, but as it turns out, there are a few grand oases within Tokyo’s boundaries. Here are seven such spots, guaranteed to bring the temperature down while raising your city-worn spirits up.

1. The only ravine in Tokyo’s 23 wards – Todoroki Keikoku

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Without warning, the residential area of Setagaya suddenly gives way to this wonderful world of nature. The soothing sound of water and the sunlight filtering down through the trees help one to forget the city that still lies just beyond the tree line. Coming here is like a breath of fresh air. And of course, if the natural breeze isn’t enough to chase away the heat, the resident tea house sells shaved ice. Why not enjoy a bowl of it while lounging on the park lawn.

2. The largest limestone cave in the Kantou Region – Nippara Shounyuudou

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In Okutama Town of the greater Tokyo region lies Nippara Limestone Cave, the largest of its kind in the Kantou region. At one point it was considered an area worthy of worship. Now it’s a popular tourist spot and one of Tokyo’s designated natural monuments, though some say that it still carries the air of a sacred spot. Exploring all the highlights of this cool cavern takes about 40 minutes. The awesome stalagmites and numerous stone pillars are a true wonder.

3. Traditional Japanese-style garden – Koishikawa Kourakuen

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There is a great metropolitan garden in the Kouraku sector of Tokyo’s Bunkyo District. Back in the Edo period, this Japanese-style garden was owned by the powerful Tokugawa family. It is one of the country’s historical landmarks and a designated place of scenic beauty, complete with an artificial hill and small lake. It’s lovely to see such a beautiful piece of history preserved in this little pocket of the city. There’s even a miniature waterfall flowing down into the garden’s central pond.

4. One of Japan’s top 100 waterfalls – Hossawa no Taki

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Speaking of waterfalls, one of Japan’s many natural falls can be found within the limits of greater Tokyo. Hinohana Village is the home to Hossawa Waterfall, written with the kanji for “sweeping stream.” The waterfall is approximately 60 meters (197 feet) tall and ends in a deep, dark pool. It’s said that a great snake has lived in this mysterious pool since ancient times. Perhaps it is some sort of water god. The spirit’s sacred protection over the surrounding forest could be exactly what makes it such a refreshing spot.

5. A calm and quiet place in the city’s very center – Meiji-jinguu Imperial Garden

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In the early Edo period, this garden was the property of the feudal lords, Kiyomasa Katou and Naotaka Ii, but in the Meiji era it came under the control of the Imperial Household Agency and made into the Yoyogi Imperial Garden. Narrow paths made of tiny pebbles lead all throughout this tree-filled park. It’s a great place to go for a bit of fresh air.

6. A large park loved by businessmen – Hamarikyuu Imperial Garden

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Adjacent to the skyscrapers of Shiodome, this park features a large pond and some splendid black pines. Flowers bloom all year round, making it the perfect place for a scenic stroll. By the time you reach the center, you might even forget that you’re still within the city.

7. A community of goldfish from days gone by – Kingyo Saka

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For 350 years in the neighborhood of Hongou, a goldfish vendor has set up shop. People are all welcome to come a stare at the fish or perhaps grab a bit to eat at the affiliated restaurant, Kingyo Saka, meaning “goldfish hill.” Let yourself be lulled by the atmosphere, and chill with the fish on a summer afternoon. But be prepared, for you might want to take some home with you.

Gotta say, these sound like a dream amidst the city stress and the oppressive heat of summer. If any other Tokyo dwellers have a favorite oasis in town, we’d love to hear about it in the comments! And next time you need to escape the city landscape, try looking up one of these cool locations.

Source: Matome Naver (Japanese)
Pictures: Wikipedia, BerBer Jin Blog, Mapple, onlyey via livedoor, nobnobchin via Yahoo!, merec0 via flickr