One of Tokyo’s oldest gardens

By Bonnie-Marie Hibbs.

After being in Japan for one day, I was eager to get outside to explore and to go sightseeing.

One of the first gardens I was able to visit throughout my travels was Koishikawa Korakuen, which is located in Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo.

Koishikawa Korakuen is one of Tokyo’s oldest gardens, constructed in 1629, which is formally known as the Edo period in Japanese history. Koishikawa Korakuen is one of the very few Edo period gardens that still remains in modern Tokyo today. The garden was first founded by the Mito Tokugawa family Daimyo (leader territorial lord), Yorifusa.

In later years the garden was completed by the new Tokugawa Daimyo, Mitsukuni, who was Yorifusa’s third born son. Mitsukuni incorporated many different concepts into the garden design, such as concepts taken from the Chinese Confucian scholar Shushusui from the Ming dynasty. One of the most famous concepts that still stands today in the garden is the ‘Full moon Bridge’ which is also known in Japanese as Engetsu-kyo. The name comes from the full moon reflection that the bridge casts upon the water’s surface.

Many Japanese gardens are designed on the main principle of replicating the natural landscape. This is done by creating ponds that are meant to represent lakes or rivers, installing stones/rocks, man-made hills or slopes etc. Koishikawa Korakuen is what you would call a ‘Tsukiyama’, (strolling garden with small hills, streams and ponds), style garden as it is designed to replicate the natural landscape on a smaller scale. The beautiful thing about this particular garden was the layout of the various pathways. Each pathway led to a viewpoint which overlooked other particular sections or segments of the garden, such as this photo below.


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