Translated by Verity Lane
Tokyo’s Enchanting Hama-rikyū Gardens - Where The Old Meets The New!
Written by IshizawaYoshinori
Tokyo is a bustling metropolis, full of skyscrapers and ultra-modern conveniences. But there is a slice of the past right in the middle of this: the Hama-rikyū Gardens.
Tokyo, the capital city of Japan, is a sprawling metropolis where both modern and traditional cityscapes coexist. Here, in Tokyo's Shiodome area, are the Hama-rikyū Gardens - a slice of paradise that is heavily frequented by overseas visitors. We would like to introduce you to three mesmerizing features that this park has to offer, based on accounts given by the park guides themselves.
A Landscape of Skyscrapers and Ancient Traditions
Those who live in Japan tend to be compelled to experience historical traditions and modern cityscapes separately. However, for those visiting, seeing the mix combined can be a real treat for the eyes.
Please take a look!
The modern skyscrapers can be seen from within the park - a fantastic spectacle that is even admired by the people of Japan. It is almost as if they have been specifically arranged around the park grounds. This modernism could be described as a "borrowed landscape".
These are the pine trees which have been a symbol of the park for 300 years.
In the time of Ienobu Tokugawa (the 6th shogun of the Tokugawa clan, which governed Japan between 1603–1867) the highly revered black Japanese pine trees were grown within the city. Hama-rikyū Onshi-teien park is said to be celebrating its 360th year, making it a truly historical park.
If you continue to walk through the park, you will come across the quaint and traditional Nakashima Tea House.
This prestigious tea house can be visited by everyone.
At this tea house you can order green tea and green tea-flavored snacks. You can also enjoy the beautiful scenic views of the garden.
Look! You can see many tall buildings in the distance.
I think it's safe to say that the view from the tea house is the best the park has to offer. You will have an unbeatable view of the whole park from here!
Audio Guidance Provided in 5 Languages
The audio guidance feature itself is enough to please any traveler! Provided in 5 different languages, you can also borrow this neat piece of kit for free!
As well as being aesthetically pleased, you will also learn about the unique set of historical events and background that led to the parks existence. This will help you deepen your knowledge of the surroundings just that little bit more.
You can pick up a handset at the entrance to the park. If you go passed the notice board (with the main points on it) the system will spring into action automatically. The 5 languages include: English, French, Japanese, Chinese (simplified and traditional), and Korean.
The fact that there is also an English speaking guide on Saturdays is also a marvelous selling point. Out of all the parks in Tokyo, this is the only place offering language support in an array of different languages!
The Ongoing Restoration of Traditional Japanese Architecture
Hama-rikyū Onshi-teien park was originally created to house the Tokugawa shōgun's second home. In those days, many buildings stood within the grounds of this wonderful landscape garden. However, sadly, due to many natural and otherwise disasters that have occurred through out the course of history, these buildings ceased to exist.
Nowadays, a restoration project has been put in place in the park. An excavation of the site was led by the Agency for Cultural Affairs, and some locations have now been restored under their expert supervision. This can be demonstrated first and foremost by the Pine Tea House (Matsu no ochaya).
The Pine Tea House
There is an event that takes place every Thursday where you can take a guided tour of the pine tea house. For those who are interested, please make a prompt enquiry on the Hama-rikyū Gardens official homepage.
Swallow Tea House
I was able to have a special viewing of the Swallow Tea House (Tsubame no ochaya), which was mid-construction at the time and completed in the spring of 2015. You could hear the level of excitement in the guide's voice, as they were eager to show us what lies beyond the structure. Their exuberance all became clear when we shown around the construction site itself. As we walked up the temporary staircase, and looked onto the roof, we were able to understand the guide's joy. The roof was absolutely stunning!
The roof was constructed using a technique known as layered wood shingles. It is an extremely skillful technique which involves overlapping 3mm thin sheets of wood over one another - perhaps the term "art" would be a more succinct description! This traditional roofing technique has been passed down along the ages, and is a construction method visible in many of the roofs of ancient cultural assets.
For somebody who is not well-versed in architecture, I was blown away by the sheer presence of these cultural artifacts - despite not knowing anything before I went! The construction has been completed, so I bet you can't wait to check this place out!
This time we introduced you to one of the must-see Japanese gardens. There is still so much more I could say, but as seeing is believing, I think it's best to experience it with your own eyes! If you are planning a trip to Tokyo, please take a look! Don't miss out on this magical experience where you can see beautiful architecture from the past and the present co-existing in sweet harmony!
Would you like to visit some other parks?
Flowers As Far As The Eye Can See – Hitachi Seaside Park
Hinokichō Park, An Oasis In Bustling Roppongi
Sakitama Kofun Park in Saitama – Feel the Flow of Time
Connect With Nature and Art in Ōhori Park, Fukuoka
See Seasonal Flowers At Tokyo’s Horikiri Shōbuen Iris Garden
Address: 104-0046 Tokyo, Chuo, Hamarikyuteien 1-1
Closed: December 29th - January 1st
Credit Cards: Not accepted
Language Support: Audio guides available in English, Japanese, French, Chinese (simplified and traditional characters) and Korean. There is a free English guided tour at 11:00 on weekends.
Pamphlets in Other Languages: Available
Nearest Station: Tsukijishijo Station (築地市場駅)/ Shiodome Station (汐留駅)/ Yurikamome Shiodome Station (ゆりかもめ 汐留駅)(Toei Ōedo Line); Shimbashi Station (新橋駅) (JR Line/ Tokyo Metro Ginza Line/ Toei Asakusa Line)
Access: 7 minute walk from either Tsukijishijo, Shiodome or Yurikamome Shiodome Stations; 12 minute walk from Shimbashi station
Entrance Fee: Adults 300 yen, over 65's 150 yen *Free for children below elementary school age, local residents, and those currently studying in Tokyo.
Groups more than 20 People: Adults 240 yen, 65 years and over 120 yen
High-grade Japanese green tea-flavored sweet set 720 yen/ Green tea-flavored steamed cake set 510 yen
Religious Information: -
Phone Number: 03-3541-0200 (Hama-rikyū Gardens Service Center)
Homepage: Hama-rikyū Gardens