Hama Rikyu Gardens

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Tokyo, Japan
Hama Rikyu Gardens - Flower Field, Hama Rikyu Gardens
Hama Rikyu Gardens - In Hama Rikyu Gardens
Hama Rikyu Gardens - In Hama Rikyu Gardens
Hama Rikyu Gardens - In Hama Rikyu Gardens
Hama Rikyu Gardens - Tea house in Hama Rikyu Gardens
Hama Rikyu Gardens - Ancient pine, Hama Rikyu Gardens

Hama Rikyu Gardens Tokyo Reviews

Toonsarah Toonsarah
566 reviews
Tranquility in the city Oct 06, 2013
I was really pleased that on our first morning of the tour we were able to visit a traditional Japanese garden in the heart of modern Tokyo. These gardens were originally built as part of the Tokyo residence of the Tokugawa Shogun during the Edo Period (1603-1867). They are of the ‘strolling gardens’ style – large gardens with ponds, islands and artificial hills that could be enjoyed from a variety of viewpoints along a circular trail. They were first laid out in 1654 by the brother of the fourth shogun who had part of the Sumida River shallows filled in and built a residence on the land thus reclaimed, with strolling gardens and duck hunting grounds by the river. Over time various shoguns made changes and developed the garden, and it was finally finished under the 11th and has remained more or less the same since then. After the Meiji Revolution the residence became a so-called Detached Palace for the Imperial family. It and the gardens were badly damaged in the air raids of World War Two and after the war the gardens were given to the people of Tokyo and reconstructed, opening to the public in 1952.

So today the gardens retain much of their original appearance despite serving more as city centre park than anything else. For instance, there are several reconstructed duck hunting blinds and you can still see the remains of an old moat. There is even a ‘duck grave’ created in 1935 to console the spirits of the ducks that were once killed here.

One style often employed in these traditional gardens was known as ‘borrowed scenery’; in this, surrounding scenery was incorporated into a garden’s composition. Of course today the surrounding scenery is of city skyscrapers but for me the contrast they create only served to emphasise the tranquillity of this green haven.

As you stroll around today it’s hard to believe perhaps that every hill here is artificial – it all looks very natural. The pool at the centre of the gardens is an obvious focal point for your wanderings and it is very pretty, with some traditional looking bridges, lovely trees and a teahouse on a small island. But make sure you explore other parts too. One of my favourite spots was on the north side where a large area is devoted to a sort of wild flower meadow, the Flower Field, which changes with the seasons. When we were there in early October it was the turn of the autumn planting of cosmos – beautiful!

Other features include a peony garden and wisteria trellises (we were here too late in the year for these), a 300 year old pine that has needed to be considerably propped up (said to have been planted by the sixth Shogun in the 17th century and apparently the biggest pine tree in Tokyo), and several pavilions. You can easily spend a couple of hours wandering around here, taking photos and maybe relaxing over a bowl of green tea or matcha (powdered green tea) in the teahouse.

Admission to the gardens costs 300¥. If you arrive by river bus, as we did, the admission will be included in your boat fare. If arriving at one of the other gates there is a ticket office nearby. You can get an informative leaflet about the gardens, which is available in English.
Tea house in Hama Rikyu Gardens
In Hama Rikyu Gardens
In Hama Rikyu Gardens
In Hama Rikyu Gardens
1 / 1 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
Toonsarah says:
No, I was surprised to see the river bus - not something you associate with that city
Posted on: Jan 14, 2018
hightide says:
Cool - didn't know that river buses run in Tokyo.
Posted on: Jan 13, 2018
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