A Walk in the Hama Rikyu Gardens


2021.02.14

NAVITIME TRAVEL EDITOR

  • A peaceful enclave found within the industrial boundaries of Chuo ward, the Hama Rikyu Gardens strikes visitors as an Edenic safe space from the hustle and bustle of downtown. The skyscrapers of Shiodome loom over the greenery, creating a stark contrast between the garden and outside world. Hama Rikyu brings visitors back to the Edo Period with its pine trees and its impeccable landscaping that pre-industrial Japan was notable for.

    A Walk in the Hama Rikyu Gardens

    A Walk in the Hama Rikyu Gardens

    Like all good Japanese gardens, Hama Rikyu is built upon the feudal lands of the Tokugawa shogun family. Since 1654, the gardens were passed down from each shogun family until Ienari, the 11th shogun. The garden was then passed on to the Imperial family during the Meiji Restoration and suffered major damages from both the Great Kanto Earthquake and World War II. The garden was officially passed on to the City of Tokyo on November 3, 1945 and became accessible to the citizens on year of restorations later, in April of 1946.

    The Tokyo Bay provides salt water for the moat and ponds. These ponds are the only remaining saltwater ponds in Tokyo and have a variety of fish such as eels or sea bass calling Hama-Rikyu their home.

    A Walk in the Hama Rikyu Gardens

    A Walk in the Hama Rikyu Gardens

    Take a break in a chaya, or traditional teahouse, in the center of the garden. Situated in the middle of one of the main ponds, Shiori no ike, the teahouse is connected via two hinoki, or cypress bridges. Visitors are able to walk through the middle of the pond upon these bridges and enjoy the vast view of the garden while relaxing with green tea and sweets in the teahouse. Occasionally the teahouse holds tea ceremonies in both English and Japanese. They also offer lessons for those interested.

    The feudal lords who originally ruled the lands used Hama Rikyu for duck hunting. To this day the duck traps and trenches are still standing. Throughout the park, visitors will stumble upon wooden trap doors and surfaces that showcase a slice of Edo period life.

    A Walk in the Hama Rikyu Gardens

    A Walk in the Hama Rikyu Gardens

    A Walk in the Hama Rikyu Gardens

    A Walk in the Hama Rikyu Gardens

    While Hama Rikyu is not exactly famous for its fall colors or spring flowers it is still a fine place to explore a pocket of nature in Tokyo. In fact, since its so under the radar, the flower field and Peony Garden are less crowded than other flower festivals throughout Tokyo in the spring. There are over 60 different peony types among the 1,000 plants in the flower garden. While cherry blossoms are ever relevant in Hama Rikyu, nanohana or rapeseed flowers become the main attraction in March. Before the cherry blossoms bloom, the rapeseed flowers create an ocean of yellow in front of the horizon of Shiodome skyscrapers.

    A Walk in the Hama Rikyu Gardens

    A Walk in the Hama Rikyu Gardens

    Guided tours are available in both English and Japanese. The Japanese tours are twice a day on weekends and holidays and English tours are Mondays and Saturdays. Be sure to check the website for the changing details on hours. There are also free electronic audio guides offered in Japanese, English, French, Chinese and Korean.

    Entrance is accessible via Shiodome Station, Tsukijishijo Station or JR Shimbashi Station. Admission is 300 yen and free for children elementary school aged or younger. The garden is open everyday from 9am-5pm and is closed during the New Year’s holidays, typically December 29-January 1.

    Hama-rikyu Gardens
    rating

    4.5

    1915 Reviews
    place
    Tokyo Chuo-ku Hamarikyuteien 1-1
    phone
    0335410200

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