Rikugien Gardens, an Edo-period, landscaped, strolling garden, was created in the early 18th century by Yanagisawa Yoshiyasu, an associate of the shogun of the day, Tokugawa Tsunayoshi. The name refers to the "Six Principles or Categories" (六義) of classical Chinese and Chinese-influenced, Japanese poetry.
The garden later became the property of Iwasaki Yatoro, the founder of the Mitsubishi group, a Meiji-era business tycoon who also owned the Kyu-Iwasaki-tei house and gardens in Tokyo designed by British architect Josiah Conder. Rikugien was donated to the city of Tokyo in 1953.
The layout of the strolling gardens, with a 35m high "mountain", pond, teahouses, stone lanterns and bridges are based on the theme of Waka (和歌 lit. "Japanese" + "song") poetry. 88 scenes from famous poems are recreated in the gardens and stone markers (sekichu) indicate these special views. 32 of the original 88 markers still remain.
Rikugien has some areas of dense wood and the strolling gardens are noted for their cherry blossom and maple leaves in spring and autumn.
The centerpiece of the garden is the pond. Imo-yama and Se-yama are two hills on Naka-no-shima - a small island in the water and represent the mythical, male and female deities Izanagi and Izanami. Look out for garyu-seki a half-submerged rock in the lake representing a sleeping dragon and horaijima a small islet represented by rocks.
Rikugien Gardens, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113-0021
Tel: 03 3941 2222
Admission: 300 yen
Less than 10 minutes walk from Komagome Station on the JR Yamanote Line and Tokyo Subway Namboku Line.
Around 10 minutes on foot north east from Sengoku Station on the Toei Mita Line.
From Kyu-Furukawa Gardens walk down Hongo Dori for about 15-20 minutes.
Japanese Art - byobu screens
Japan Tokyo Rikugien Gardens Garden Josiah Conder