Translated by Jelena Kitamura
Tokugawa Garden - A Special Place With A Japanese Ambiance In Nagoya
Written by Ai Yoneda
If you are up for some Japan-like ambiance in Nagoya city, you should certainly visit Tokugawaen (Tokugawa Garden). You might have already seen (or tried) other Nagoya's trademarks (the castle, or delicacies), but this garden has much to offer, too!
You might have heard of Nagoya, well-known as a prominent metropolis not only in Aichi Prefecture, but in the whole of Japan. As it takes only about 2 hours to get to Nagoya from Tokyo, even visitors from the capital city can schedule a one-day trip without any concerns about time.
When mentioned, the word “Nagoya” might bring to mind the golden shachihoko on the top of the Nagoya Castle (shachihoko: a golden statue of a mythical creature, half-fish and half-tiger from folk tales), or some unique Nagoya-style gourmet dishes, such as hitsumabushi (hitsumabushi: eel filets served on rice) or miso-nikomi udon. But, actually, there is a lot more Nagoya has to offer to its visitors!
This time, we will take you on a stroll through Tokugawa Garden, a traditional Japanese garden in Nagoya.
This is the entrance to the garden.
Back in 1659, the feudal lord of the Owari domain (the former name of the western part of Aichi prefecture), Mitsutomo Tokugawa, decided to build a mansion for his retirement days and to create a gigantic Japanese garden as a part – that is when the Tokugawa Garden was created.
Tokugawa Garden bears a striking resemblance to the famous Kenroku Garden (Kenrokuen) of Kanazawa city in Ishikawa prefecture, in the sense that both are the type of a garden in which you can enjoy while strolling around (in contrast to the Japanese gardens one admires from inside of the mansion).
The first thing to catch your eye upon entering the garden is Kosenkyo, or Kosen Bridge, a wooden bridge made out of Japanese cypress.
On the other side of the bridge is the widest area in the whole garden, the Ryusenko, or the Ryusen Lake. It is said to be designed after Mikawa Bay (Mikawawan) in Owari, which is why you can see three floating islands connected with a bridge. Those are the representations of Shinojima, Himakajima, and Sakushima, the islands of the Mikawa Bay.
One more thing, reflecting beautifully in the water are funagoya, stilt houses, serving as a memento of the past when as many as 16 of these were said to be floating on the water surface.
You can also see colorful koi gracefully swimming around the houses – a vivid element to the elegant scenery.
Walk some more and you’ll reach the peony garden. Perhaps it is best to visit the garden in spring, from the latter half and until the end of April, because you’ll be greeted by the striking view of one thousand peony flowers in full bloom! These shots were taken during the winter, so we can’t say the pictures do them justice, as you cannot witness the remarkable sight of their beautiful blossoms, but the winter does bring another nuance of elegance to the scenery.
You are probably wondering what those hat-like, straw covers laid over the peony flowers are. Let us tell you! Those are called warayojo, and are used as straw shields, or covers, to protect the flowers from the harsh weather conditions during the winter since it is not unusual for the flower stems to break under heavy snow.
If you take the route along the lake, you’ll inevitably end up admiring the Tsurukameshima (Tsurukame Island). It truly is an impressive island, created to reflect a turtle, with the rocks carefully lined up in that shape, and a crane, by manipulating the shape of a pine tree.
Have you heard of the saying, “A crane lives for thousands of years, but a turtle lives for tens of thousands”? It is an old saying that is said to bring good fortune because it symbolizes longevity and prosperity.
Take a closer look at the pond, and you’ll discover a delightful world of autumn foliage on its bottom. But, don’t stop there – take another look in-between the rocks covered in moss, and you’ll find a whole carpet made out of autumn leaves. A truly idyllic scenery befitting Japan, don’t you think?
Leaves were already covering the ground in the winter when these pictures were taken, but there is no doubt that visiting the garden in autumn ought to be mesmerizing!
Now, let’s move on – the next up is Toranoo River. The bridge spreading over the river is the one we introduced earlier – the Kosen Bridge. There is a gentle hill coming up ahead, and we can’t wait to see what is waiting on the other side.
The river got its name because it resembles the tail of a tiger (tora no o: tiger’s tail), twisting and spiraling in between the trees on its way to the Lake Ryusen.
And just where the stream reaches its highest point, a magnificent waterfall Ozone was raised.
It's constructed to have three levels and is 6 meters high. But, if you observe it a bit longer, you’ll notice that water falls differently on each of the levels – the diversity of its appearance is what makes it special. The reason behind the variations lies in the secret of its construction – they used different methods of piling up the rocks on each level. That way the water splashes in many directions, changing its velocity and vigor, creating a spectacular sight to behold.
How about witnessing some authentic Japanese sights at Tokugawa Garden, during your next stay in Nagoya?
Address: Aichi, Nagoya, Higashi, Tokugawa 1001
Hours: from 9:30 until 17:30
Fixed Holidays: Mondays; from the 29th of December until the 1st of January
Accepted Credit Cards: -
Menus/Pamphlets in Other Languages: -
Nearest Station: JR Ozone Station
Access: walk for 10 minutes from the south exit of JR Ozone Station
Price: admission fee 300 yen
Phone Number: 052-935-8988
Website: Tokugawa Garden