This gem of a garden, along with Koishikawa Korakuen Garden is one of Tokyo's few surviving clan gardens from the Edo Period. It is also only a short walk from nearby Hama Rikyu Gardens and both places can easily be seen in half a day.
The garden is built on land reclaimed from Edo Bay and became the residence of an official of the ruling Tokugawa Shogunate - Okubo Tadatomo - in 1678.
The original garden, called "Rakujuen", was designed by landscapers from Okubo's home fiefdom of Odawara (present-day Kanagawa Prefecture). After the Meiji Restoration of 1868 and the end of the Tokugawa regime, the garden was bought by the Imperial Household Agency in 1875 and renamed Kyu-Shiba Rikyu (Shiba Detached Palace).
Kyu-Shiba Rikyu was donated to the Tokyo city authorities in 1924 after the site was devastated in the Great Kanto Earthquake of the previous year.
The focal point of the garden is the large pond, Sensui, which like Hama Rikyu's pond still is, was once filled with seawater from Edo Bay by means of a inlet, that can still be seen. Nowadays the lake is freshwater and contains a number of islands, rock formations and massive carp (koi).
There are a number of garden hills which provide vantage points to view the central lake and garden. Other points of interest include a kyudo (Japanese archery) range (which is available for hire), a karetaki (dry, rock waterfall) and a wisteria trellis.
The garden is also known for its azaleas, cherry blossoms and irises in season.
The borrowed scenery (shakkei) of the garden is now provided by some of Tokyo's contemporary skyscrapers.
Kyu-Shiba Rikyu Garden
Tel: 03 3434 4029
A stone's throw from Hamamatsu-cho Station on the JR Yamanote Line and JR Tokaido and Keihin Tohoku Lines.
Around 5 minutes on foot from Daimon Station on the Toei O-edo Subway Line.
10 minutes on foot from Takeshiba Station on the Yuri-kamome Line.
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Monday, June 04, 2007