Japan Parks and Gardens
Ueno Park | Shinjuku Gyoen Park | Hibiya Park | Arisugawa-no-miya Memorial Park | Yume no Shima Park | Kyu-Shiba Rikyu Gardens | Shiba Park | Hama Rikyu Gardens | Kiyosumi Teien Gardens | Kiba Park | Kyu-Iwasaki Tei Gardens | Shinagawa Kumin Park | Koishikawa Botanical Gardens | Yoyogi Park | Kenrokuen | Urakuen | Chichibu-Tama-Kai National Park | Shakujii Park | Kairaku-en | Koraku-en | Ritsurin-koen | Shukkei-en | Yuka-en | Shikina-en
Parks and Gardens in Japan
Japan is rightly famous for its traditions of gardening and landscaping. From the Heian Period (794-1192) onwards Chinese techniques of garden construction for the aristocracy and priesthood became widespread in Japan. This legacy lives on in modern Japan with most towns and cities having a number of both public and private gardens worth visiting. Japanese temples, shrines, palaces and castles will invariably have a peaceful garden to provide rest and solace from often busy urban streets.
Types of Japanese Gardens
From gardens designed for tea ceremonies and those which mimic famous regional landscapes, to those that contribute to the sacred importance of temples, garden design has been a crucial part of Japanese art and culture for centuries.
Types of Japanese Gardens (Spanish language only)
Many of Tokyo's gardens date from the Edo Period when feudal lords (daimyo) were required to spend one year out of two in Edo (present day Tokyo) as a form of control by the Tokugawa regime. The daimyo built residences and adjoining gardens for themselves and their families. After the collapse of Tokugawa rule in 1868 many of these gardens reverted to government ownership and after World War II all of them were gradually taken over by Tokyo city authorities.
Ueno Park is the mother of Tokyo parks and gardens and is almost synonymous with the Ueno area. Just east of elegant Bunkyo ward, Ueno Park is located in Tokyo's 'shitamachi' (working & merchant class). Ueno is a large area full of natural and cultural beauty. As well as a zoo, it has the most museums in any one area in Japan, and the surrounding area has the highest concentration of temples in Tokyo. Art, history, science, religion, culture, and a Rodin Garden.
Shinjuku Gyoen Park
Shinjuku Gyoen Park: an ancient feudal estate that has maintained its integrity, Shinjuku Gyoen Park was redesigned by a Frenchman to reflect the best of Eastern and Western outdoor aesthetics, and is now a meandering idyll of peace and quiet, and stunning seasonal beauty, in the midst of one of Tokyo's most commercially manic districts.
Hibiya Park: a sprawling, elegant, woody park in the very heart of Tokyo, right next to the Imperial Palace and not far from Tokyo's ritzy Ginza shopping district.
The "garden" of Arisugawa-no-miya Memorial Park is one of Tokyo's most enchanted woodlands.
Yume no Shima ('Dream Island') Park
In Tokyo's industrial Koto ward bordering Tokyo Harbor, Yume no Shima Park is a splash of freshness in a landscape of gargantuan blank-faced warehouses. Yume no Shima began life as a landfill and dumping ground, but was rescued from this poor fate in 1972 when it was decided to make it into a park. It is now a verdant space covered mainly with eucalyptus trees and enjoyed by strollers, sketchers, picnickers, sunbathers, and anyone else seeking refuge from the bustle.
Kyu-Shiba Rikyu Gardens
This gem of a garden, translated as the "Shiba Detached Palace Garden," is, along with Koishikawa Korakuen Garden, one of Tokyo's few surviving clan gardens from the Edo Period. Kyu-Shiba Rikyu Gardens is an oasis of serenity and elegance in the hardfaced, small-business milieu of the Hamamatsu-cho area. Kyu-Shiba Rikyu is also only a short walk from nearby Hama Rikyu Gardens and both attractions can easily be seen in half a day.
Hama-Rikyu Gardens, moated and with historic tidal duck ponds, is located in the Shiodome area facing the Sumida River. A large tract of floral and sylvan beauty, and a naturist's delight in any season. Hama-Rikyu Gardens is also only a short walk from the smaller, nearby Kyu-Shiba Rikyu Gardens and both garden attractions can easily be seen in half a day of sightseeing.
Kiyosumi Teien Garden
Kiyosumi Teien Garden, the landscape gem of Tokyo's Koto ward in the Kiyosumi-Fukagawa district, is an example of an ancient daimyo's (feudal lord's) pleasure ground.
Kiba Park (Kiba Koen)
Mostly wide open space, Kiba Koen is occupied by families strolling and boys throwing baseballs.
Kyu-Iwasaki Tei Gardens
Kyu-Iwasaki Tei Gardens, in the Yushima district of Tokyo's Taito ward, is near Ueno Park, and features elaborate and elegant old wooden buildings that were part of the palatial residence of Hisaya Iwasaki, the third president of Mitsubishi. The houses at Kyu-Iwasaki Tei were built at the end of the nineteenth century, designed by the British architect, Dr. Josiah Condor.
Shiba Koen (Shiba Park)
Shiba Park, is close to Tokyo Tower and Zojoji Temple and is, in fact, Japan's oldest public park, designated as such way back in 1873 at the beginning of the meiji Period.
Shinagawa Kumin Park
Shinagawa Kumin Park, in Tokyo's Shinagawa ward, is one of Tokyo's best kept park secrets.
Koishikawa Botanical Gardens
Koishikawa Botanical Gardens, in Tokyo's Bunkyo ward, is full of beautiful natural and landscaped gardens, including remnants of Tokyo's old forests, and a centuries old medicinal herb garden. Centrally located in Tokyo's Bunkyo ward.
Koishikawa Korakuen Gardens
Koishikawa Korakuen Gardens was begun in 1629 by Yorifusa Mito, the first feudal lord of the Mito Tokugawa family and eleventh son of patriarch Ieyasu Tokugawa. Korakuen was completed by Mitsukuni Mito, Yorifusa's son. The garden is heavily influenced by Chinese garden design.
Shakujii Park in Tokyo's Nerima ward is a sprawling area of unspolit nature surrounding two large ponds: Shakujii Pond at the eastern end of the park and Sampoji Pond at the western end.
Yoyogi Park in Tokyo's Shibuya ward is one of Tokyo's biggest parks, and by far its freest and easiest, open all hours for (almost) whatever takes your fancy. Great for strolling, picnicking, partying, sunbathing, exercising, and people watching. Yoyogi Park includes cycle hire and tracks, special space for dogs, and more.
Kenrokuen Garden Kanazawa
Kenrokuen Garden, in Kanazawa is one of Japan's most beautiful and popular gardens. No matter what season you go to Kanazawa, a visit to Kenrokuen garden is an un-missable part of your trip.
Urakuen Garden, in Inuyama is a perfect example of a Japanese cha-niwa - a garden designed to suit the needs of the aesthetic of the tea ceremony.
Chichibu-Tama-Kai National Park is a 1,262 k? (487 square mile) national park, mountainous and full of natural beauty, that covers four prefectures: Tokyo, Saitama, Nagano, and Yamanashi.
Kairaku-en Garden in Mito in Ibaraki Prefecture, around one hour north of Tokyo
by express train, is one of Japan's big three landscape gardens. The
other two being Kenroku-en in Kanazawa and Koraku-en in Okayama. Dating
from the 1840s, Kairaku-en is most well-known for its beautiful plum
blossoms in late February to early March, which really draw the crowds,
but this delightful, strolling garden can be enjoyed all year round.
Koraku-en Garden in Okayama is another of Japan's big three landscape gardens. Completed in 1700, the
garden is known for its expansive lawns and the beautiful Ryuten Pavilion, which has a small stream running through it. The garden is close to Okayama Castle and incorporates the castle in its "borrowed scenery." The manicured lawns are interspersed with stone lanterns, bushes and small ponds.
Ritsurin-koen in Takamatsu in Shikoku is considered one of Japan's best gardens. This 16 ha strolling garden is laid out on a grand scale but it is also contiguous with a range of low, forested hills conveying the impression that the garden is endless. This incorporation of the view of Mt Shiun beyond the garden to the west, is a device often used in Japanese gardens, even those on a very much smaller scale, and is known as a "borrowed view".
Shukkei-en Garden in Hiroshima was completed in 1620 by the local feudal lord and is modeled on the famous West Lake in Hangzhou, China.
Yuka-en Garden in Hiroshima's Naka ward is an authentic, walled Chinese garden completed in 1992 to mark five years of official friendship between the sister cities of Hiroshima in Japan and Chongqing in China.
Shikina-en Garden in Naha, Okinawa, was constructed at the end of the 18th century as a second home for the Okinawan royal family and to entertain important guests. A section of the old stone pavement that ran from the Shuri Palace to Shikinaen still exists. The Shikinaen garden is a stroll garden, meant to be walked around rather than viewed from one particular point, and has features both Japanese and Chinese, to make it uniquely Okinawan.
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