Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Hama-Rikyu gardens - a breathing space in central Tokyo



The huge flower field of Hama-rikyu provides a shimmering escape from the busy city life, with rape flowers in full bloom in spring and cosmos in late summer. Shiodome's skyscrapers loom in the background, reminding of the reality...
 
In Tokyo, an early morning visit to the Tsukiji fish market - world's largest such - is kind of a must, especially if you love seafood (so much that tourists are seen as pests by the fishmongers...). The bustle and commerce can be a bit overwhelming, but the variety of the edible harvest from the seas is truly amazing to view; from huge tunas to meat-filled seashells and leathery seaweed varieties to tiniest little fish, you will guaranteed see things you never thought were edible (or even existed). Eating the freshest possible sushi in one of the little restaurants in the market area crowns the morning - it will be the measuring stick to all the sushi you will eat afterwards. Unless you really are hard core about fish, there's no need to be there for the 5 AM tuna auction; plenty remains to see even at 7 or 8 am. After 9, the activity cools significantly down, and buyers start to transport their catch to the restaurants all over Tokyo and Japan.
 
Huge stone walls surround the garden; it was built on land reclaimed from the sea, and features a huge tidal pond inside the walls.

Cherries in full bloom, and one of the arched bridges leading over the many ponds. If you look closely, you can detect a team of gardeners in work, cloud pruning the old pines.

View from Fujimi hill, the highest point in the gardens, towards Nakajima-no-ochaya, the floating tea room in the middle of one of the ponds.
 
After all the business of Tsukiji, the Hama-Rikyu gardens just a short stroll away is a great place to restore your senses. This large, open garden from mid 17th century was originally the duck-hunting grounds and summer residence of the Tokugawa shogunate, that is, the Tokugawa clan of military leaders called the shoguns, who run Japan from 1660 until the Meiji restoration reinstalled the Emperor to his throne in 1868. After this, the imperial family used the gardens as their beach residence.
 
 Another view of the huge flower field...
 
 O-tsutai-bashi, a 118 meter long bridge leading to the floating tearoom.
 
Nakajima-no-ochaya tea room, a popular spot for older Japanese to enjoy their tea...

Probably not what the Shoguns would have appreciated, but a well-needed break for my girls from the busy city...
 
Much of the gardens were built on reclaimed land, and they feature typical Japanese high stone walls and a large tidal water pond, which is regulated by several floodgates. The buildings on the site were badly damaged in the Great Kanto earth quake in 1923, and later again in the Second World War. The gardens and a couple of tea houses were restored after the war, and the park was donated to the city of Tokyo by the imperial family. There is really not much to see from the botanical point of view, but the Hama-Rikyu is worth visiting as a great example of a typical daimyo - which means a Japanese feudal lord, as the Tokugawas were - garden from the Edo period. And as a breathing space between all business of Tokyo, it is just priceless.


This is me, in 30+ years time... An old Japanese lady, who photographed what looked like every single cherry tree on in the large gardens. 

2 comments:

Henrietta Hassinen said...

Älytön ristiriitaisuuksien paikka:) Paikka täynnä pilvenpiirtäjiä, tonttipula ja jopa hautuupaikkaa kuolleille saa metsästää "kiinteistönvälittäjän" kanssa mutta sitten kaiken keskellä tuollainen paratiisi, IHANA.

The Intercontinental Gardener said...

Todellinen henkireikä!!! ja ihana paikka istua nurmikolla keskellä megakaupungin hulinaa... suosittelen lämpimästi!