Thursday 26 September 2013

Tokyo, not just a concrete jungle - Hama Rikyu Garden

A couple of weeks ago, I had a two lesson break during the afternoon.  A few of my students had told me of a garden quite close to where I work that they recommended I check out,  so seeing this as a perfect opportunity I grabbed my camera and set off.

Hama Rikyu garden was constructed in 1654 by the then Shogun's brother and later became the property of the Imperial family.  It was heavily damaged in the 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake and in World War II.  It was repaired again and opened to the public for the first time in 1946.

As with a lot of the top public gardens in Tokyo, there is, understandably, a small entry fee to help cover maintenance costs, which I imagine would be quite high!

The different areas of the park all have quite distinctly different looks and atmospheres.  The initial part is quite wild and forest-like.

After getting through that area, the park opens out into an area with a lake and a lot of pine trees.


In the above picture, just where the man is about to walk into, there is a little part of the walkway that is covered and has what looks like a really old tree whose foliage forms the roof of the walkway.  Who know how old that tree is, but I imagine it has been through it's fair share of typhoons and has survived all of them!

After reaching the other side of the pond, you turn around and this is the view that is in front of you!

 I sometimes talk in this blog about Japan being a country of contrasts where the different sides of Japan co-exist in a beautiful way.  This is a perfect example of that!  Nestled in the middle of one of Tokyo's busiest business district surrounded by skyscrapers and freeways is a beautifully peaceful garden!  These spots are treasured by Japanese people as a place to go to escape the hustle and bustle of Tokyo life.

Some of the trees in the park have fascinating form.  These pine trees are like giant bonsai trees with the form they take, and each one is different.

A few days earlier a typhoon had passed over Tokyo and the gardeners were out in force cleaning up.

On the other side of the lake a couple of cranes were out looking for lunch.

A little further around, I saw some steps heading up off to the right hand side and decided to go up and see where they went to.  At the top was a little wood hut with some holes in one wall.  I guess it was for bird watching.

I peered through the holes and was stunned at what I saw.

A bright green pond!  I am assuming that it was some kind of algae.  It wasn't stopping a duck bobbing under water occasionally looking for a bite to eat.  

The final part of the park was a flower field.

I don't know what kind of flowers they were, but there were people all along the path that weaved through the field taking photos.

Just before the exit is this grand old tree.

 I made my way out of the park and headed back to work, back to the real world, having, as everyone else who goes to these parks, gotten my harmony back.

I remember thinking as I was walking around that only half of the beauty of Japan is in what you see.  The other half of the beauty comes from how it  makes you feel, and I felt awesome!

Thanks again for reading.  I'll see you again soon.


  1. Thanks for showing me my kind of Japan! I've been waiting for a post such as this :) Next on the list is a small fishing village if they still exist? Dude if I lived in Japan I would take whatever paycut necessary to work in that park, it is awesome...

    1. Hey Scott, it is an awesome garden for sure. I spent most of my time walking around the park trying to pick my jaw up off the ground!
      As far as the fishing villages are concerned, a lot of the east coast fishing villages were wiped out by the tsunami in March 2011. Give me some time though, and I will see what I can find

  2. Entry fee is free on October 1st. The day is called "Tomin-no-hi" or Tokyo citizens's day.
    The day is one of the memorial days established by Tokyo in 1952. 9 parks and gardens in Tokyo are open to the public for free!

  3. Dare I say it (so that it doesn't ruin your next day out), clear blue skies without any rain! :)

    1. Yeah, it was a bit of a novelty, and on my next post, the weather was the same. Having said that, there are another couple of typhoons brewing!.......

  4. Hi Jason.Whilst I was in Japan I saw fields of Cosmos and I think these are the flowers in the park.I have seen them occasionally in South Aust.but they are not common here.You mentioned the pine trees,which appear in gardens and parks as you know throughout Nihon.It seems wherever you see them in such places they are always pruned,,,as you say like bonsai.As you probably know,Norwood face North Adelaide this Sunday.I am expecting Norwood to run away with this one..Some talk of Chapman going to the dons and Fletcher to carry on...must be one of the greatest defense players of all time and the Crows havesecured Betts it seems.Kanpai...noel.

    1. Hi Noel,
      the pines are always immaculately pruned. So many domestic gardens are the same too. I enjoyed watching the gardeners buzzing around cleaning up after the typhoon, the epitomy of Japanese efficiency!
      I had heard about the SANFL Grand Final. I was hoping my Westies made it into the GF for another crack at Norwood, but not to be.
      I had also heard about Fletch continuing on, and if we can get Chapman, that will be great.
      Take care Noel,