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Japanese landscape gardening is distinctive in style from all others. In its own particular type, it holds a unique position in artistry and beauty. The gardens are of two main types: Tsukiyama (hilly gardens) and Hiraniwa (flat gardens). First introduced from China, Japanese gardening aims at providing a landscape composition just as an artist depicts a landscape on a canvas a few feet square. To this end, rocks, shrubs, dwarf-trees, sand, and running water are pressed into use. The traditional features of the early gardens were an island set in a pool, and connected with the mainland by small bridges or stepping stones with stone lanterns and rocks placed in such manner as to give the whole the effect of a wide landscape. Gardening was greatly influenced by Buddhism, and particularly by the Zen Sect which also sponsored the Chanoyu (tea ceremony). A garden had to be arranged in which the Chaseki (tea arbour) could be erected.
During the Tokugawa period, Edo (today's Tokyo) was noted for its famous gardens, but with the advent of the Meiji Restoration, many of them fell into neglect, or were destroyed. But many have survived and they have been converted into parks but still retain their ancient styles.
(quoted from JAPANALIA by Lewis Bush)

Denbou-in, Kiyosumi, Rikugien, Korakuen, Hama Rikyu, Shiba Rikyu, Shinjuku Gyoen, Imperial Palace East Garaden, Mukojima Hyakkaen, Tonogayato Gardens, Yasuda Garden and Sankei-en

Garden of Denbou-in (Denpou-in), Sensoji Temple in Asakusa

Denbou-in (Denpou-in) is a place where priests of Sensoji Temple do Buddhist training. Denbou-in was also used as the residence of Kansu, the top priest of Sensoji Temple. The guest house and the entrance of the building was constructed in 1777. When Shoguns and nobles visited Sensoji Temple, they would often rest in Denbou-in.

Garden of Denbou-in, Sensoji Temple in Asakusa is believed was designed by Kobori Enshu, an eminent gardener in early 17th century. The area of this garden is approximately 10,000 square meters, and it is a circuit style garden. The scene you would see changes as you walk around in the garden. In the old days, this garden was open to nobles only, and ordinary citizens were not allowed to enter the garden.

The garden is not usually opened to the public. The garden has been exceptionally opening to the public in spring since 2012 to collect money for the victims of the earthquake in Tohoku in 2011. Also exhibited in the treasure house are many giant "ema" made during the Edo period and treasures of Sensoji Temple.

The garden is not opening due to construction works in 2020 and 2021 (10 a.m.-4 p.m.) All days during the period
Address: 2-3-1 Asakusa, Taito-ku (located inside the compound of Sensoji Temple)
Admission: 300 yen
Access: Asakusa Station on Subway Ginza Line, Toei Asakusa Line, Tsukuba Express, Tobu Sky Tree Line
Telephone: 03-3842-0181

Kiyosumi Garden

Kiyosumi Teien (Garden) in Kiyosumi, Koto-ku is said it was originally a part of the residence grounds of the famous Edo Period business magnate Kinokuniya Bunzaemon. Later, it became the location of the Edo residence of the Lord Kuze Yamato-no-kami of Sekiyado in Shimofusa (a part of present day Chiba prefecture). In 1878, the founder of Mitsubishi zaibatsu Iwasaki Yataro purchased the property and modified greatly and chose it as a garden area for the enjoyment of his employees and entertainment of important guests. The Iwasaki family donated the garden to Tokyo metropolitan government after the Great Kanto Earthquake in 1923.

Open: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Closed Dec. 29 through Jan. 1).
Admission: 150 yen
Address: 3-3-9 Kiyosumi, Koto-ku
Access: Kiyosumi-Shirakawa Station on Subway Hanzomon Line and Toei O-edo Line.
Telephone: 03-3641-5892
URL: Kiyosumi Garden


The most beautiful colored leaves viewing spot in Tokyo is Rikugien in Komagome, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo. The garden is a typical example of Japanese gardens of Edo period built by the fifth shogun Tokugawa Tsunayoshi's trusted confidante Yanagisawa Yoshiyasu as his villa in 1702.

In 1953 the garden was designated as a special site of exceptional beauty and an important cultural asset of Tokyo.
The best time to see the colored leaves will be toward the end of November and early December.

Address: 6-chome, Hon-Komagome, Bunkyo-ku
Access: Komagome Station on JR Yamanote Line 10 minutes walk.
Admission: 300 yen
Open: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. and closed Dec. 29 through Jan. 1.
Telephone: 03-3941-2222 (Rikugien Service Center)
URL: Rikugien

Light up of the giant drooping cherry tree


Koishikawa Korakuen Garden was the Edo residence of Yorifusa Tokugawa - the founder of the Mito Tokugawa family. The garden was completed by the second clan ruler Mitsukuni Tokugawa (1628-1701). When Mitsukuni set about constructing the garden, he incorporated some concepts of the Chinese Confucian scholar Shushunsui of the Ming dynasty including a garden reproduction of Seiko Lake of China, a "Full Moon Bridge" and others.

Open: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. (Closed: Year-end holidays Dec. 29 through Jan. 1)
Admission: 300 yen
Address: 1-6-6 Koraku, Bunkyo-ku
Access: East Exit, Iidabashi Station on JR Chuo-Sobu Line/Iidabashi Station on Metropolitan Subway Oedo Line
Telephone: 03-3811-3015
URL: Koishikawa Korakuen

Hama Rikyu

The typical Edo-period Japanese style garden Hamarikyu was owned by the Tokugawa shogunate. In 1654, Matsudaira Tsunashige, the younger brother of Ietsuna, the 4th Tokugawa Shogun, had part of the shallows filled in and built a residence on the reclaimed land. After the Meiji Restoration, the garden became the Hama Detached Palace for the imperial family and now is a metropolitan garden.

The Edo Period pond was a tidal pond that depended on the intake of seawater from Edo Bay. It had two duck hunting sites within the grounds.

Access: Shimbashi Station on JR Yamanote Line
Open: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. (Closed: Year-end holidays Dec. 29 through Jan. 1) Admission: 300 yen Telephone: 03-3541-0200
URL: Hama Rikyu

Shiba Rikyu

The Shiba Rikyu Garden is one of a pair of feudal era clan gardens surviving in Edo (modern Tokyo). The other is Koishikawa Korakuen Garden. The Shiba Detached Palace Garden is a classic, strolling, spring-fed pond-centered garden featuring rock and land formations. The land on which the garden is located was originally under the shallows of Edo Bay, but from 1655-1658, this area was reclaimed and in 1678, came to be used for the official residence of Okubo Tadatomo, an official of the ruling Tokugawa Shogunate. The residence passed through the hands of several persons and finally, during the final years of the Tokugawa Shogunate, it became the official residence of the Kishu branch of the Tokugawa family. In the 4th year of the Meiji Period (1871), it became the residence of the Prince Arisugawa-no-miya family. It was purchased by the Imperial Household Agency in 1875 and became the Shiba Detached Palace. In 1924, in commemoration of the marriage of the Showa emperor, the property was given to the City of Tokyo.

Access: 1 minute from Hamamatsucho Station on JR Yamanote Line
Telephone: 03-3232-3018
URL: Shiba Rikyu

Shinjuku Gyoen

Shinjuku Gyoen was constructed on the site of a private mansion belonging to Lord Naito, a "daimyo" (feudal lord) of the Edo era (1600-1868). Completed in 1906 as an imperial garden, it was re-designated as a national garden after the Second World War and opened to the public.

With 58.3 ha. (144 acres) in size and a circumference of 3.5 k.m., it blends three distinct styles, French Formal Garden, English Landscape Garden and Japanese Traditional Garden, and is considered to be one of the most important gardens from the Meiji era.
(Quoted from the home page of Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden)

Hours: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Closed: Mondays (Tuesdays when Monday is a national holiday) and Dec. 29 through Jan. 3.
Admission: 200 yen (adult), 50 yen (junior high and under)
Access: Shinjuku-Gyoenmae Station on Subway Marunouchi Line, Sendagaya Station on JR Sobu Line and Shinjuku 3-chome Station on Subway Marunouchi Line. (The garden has three gates - Shinjuku Gate, Okido Gate and Sendagaya Gate)
Telephone: 03-3350-0151
(Photos taken Nov. 26)
URL: Shinjuku Gyoen

Imperial Palace East Garden

The Easst Gardens of the Imperial Palace were created as part of the renovation project of the Imperial Palace grounds. The Gardens are located in the eastern part of the Imperial Palace grounds and occupy main quarters of the former Edo Castle. The gardens cover 21,000 square meters and have been open to the public since October 1, 1968.
(Imperical Household Agency)

Open: 9 a.m.-4 p.m. (March 1-April 14 and Sept. 1-End of Oct.)/ 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. (April 15-End of Aug.)/ 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. (Nov. 1-End of Feb.)
Closed: Mon and Fri and Dec. 23 also from Dec. 28 to Jan. 3.
Admission: free
Entry and Exit Gates: Ote-mon Gate, Hirakawa-mon Gate and Kitahanebashi-mon Gate
Telephones: 03-3213-1111 (Tue-Thu)/ 03-03-3213-2050 (Sat, Sun and National Holidays)

(All information quoted from the Imperial Household Agency pamphlet)

URL: Imperial Palace East Gardens

Mukojima Hyakkaen

Mukojima Hyakka-en Garden in Sumida-ku was built in the early 19th century by a wealthy merchant of Edo, Sahara Kiku-u. Hyakka-en means A Hundred Flowers Garden. The garden covers little more than 2 acres but is intensely planted with trees, deciduous shrubs, flowering bushes and a tunnel of bush clover. When the garden was first built, it featured 360 ume trees. Visitors can enjoy various flowers throughout four seasons.

A person listening to "music" made by water trickling into a vase. "Tosenkyo" Fan tossing game will be not be held this year in 2015.

Access: Higashi-Mukojima on Tobu Isezaki Line from Asakusa. 15 minutes walk. Closed on Mon. Admission: 150 yen.
Telephone: 03-3611-8705
URL: Mukojima Hyakkaen

Haiku poem monuments by famous poets during the Edo period are found many in the garden

Listening to "music" made by water trickling into a vase.

Fan tossing game (Tosenkyo)

Tonogayato Gardens

The garden is a modern villa garden that was built taking advantage of the terrace cliff on the southern edge of the Musashino plateau, as well as the scenic beauty of the growth of miscellaneous trees.
Eguchi Teiji, former employee of the Mitsubishi who later ascended to vice president of the Southern Manchuria Railway, established a villa between 1913 and 1915 naming it as "Zuigien." In 1929, Iwasaki Hiroyata, president of Mitsubishi purchased this villa from the Eguchi family. In 1974, Tokyo Metropolitan Government purchased and upgrating opened as a Places of Scenic Beauty of the country as Tonogayato Gardens to the public.

Access: Kokubunji Station on JR Chuo Line
Telephone: 042-324-7991
URL: Tonogayato Gardens

(Photos taken April 24, 2015)

(Photos taken November 27, 2015)

(Photos taken January 25, 2015)

Former Yasuda Garden

The Yasuda Garden is believed to have been built from 1688-1703 by a lord of the Hitachi-Kasama domain, Honjyo Inabanokami Munesuke, younger brother of Kensho-in, mother of the fifth Tokugawa Shogun Tsunayoshi. The garden had a strolling style with the level of water drawn from the Sumida River rising and has falling with the tides. This garden was remodeled in 1894 by Zenjiro Yasuda, founder of the Yasuda financial group. It was granted to Tokyo City in 1922 by his will and has opened to the public since 1927. Unfortunately this garden was destroyed by the Great Kanto Earthquake and W.W. II. It was also ruined by pollution of the Sumida River. After the garden was transferred from the Metropolis of Tokyo to Sumida Ward in 1969, it underwent an overall renovation and newly opened to the public in 1971. Since this garden successfully retains an appearance described in literature of the Meiji period up to the present, it is one of the typical gardens of this period comparable to nearby Kiyosumi Gardens. (Tokyo Metropolitan Board of Education)

Date: Year-round (closed: from Dec. 29 through Jan. 1)
Time: 9:00-16:30
Charge: None
Access: Ryogoku Station on JR Chuo-Sobu Line
Map: Yasuda Garden
URL: Yasuda Gardens

The building behind is Kokugikan Sumo Stadium

Sankeien in Yokohama

Sankeien Garden in Yokohama is a traditional and typical Japanese-style garden designed and landscaped by Sankei Hara (1868-1939) a wealthy businessman in the silk trade. He reconstructed buildings of historic importance relocated from places such as Kyoto and Kamakura in this garden and opened to the public as "Sankeien" in 1906. In the garden of 1,750,000 square meters, seven old buildings of high historic value are skillfully arranged in harmony with the seasonal changes of the natural scenery. The Second World War caused great damage, and in 1953 the property was transferred from the Hara family to the care of the Sankeien Hoshokai Foundation. Restoration works were carried out, and five years later, Sankeien had nearly recovered its former appearance. (from Sankeien English pamphlet)

Address: 58-1 Sannotani, Honmoku, Naka-ku, Yokohama.
Access: Take any one of the municipal buses labeled Route 58,99 or 101From JR Negishi Station (Keihin Tohoku Line) at bus stop No. 1. Get off at Honmoku and 10 minutes walk.
Telephone: 045-621-0634/5; Admission: 500 yen; Open: 9 a.m.-5 p.m.: Closed Dec. 29,30 and 31
URL: Sankeien