Let’s go for a stroll through one of Tokyo’s finest traditional gardens.
(NB: To put things in the proper context, I took these pictures on Sunday, 29 March 2009 – right in the middle of hanami season. Enter the garden now and there won’t be a single cherry tree in bloom, although I’m sure it’s still worth visiting.)
Nestled within the urban sprawl of Bunkyō-ku (north of the Imperial Palace), the Koishikawa Kōrakuen dates from the 17th century and was once associated with the Daimyō of Mito’s Edo residence. It’s not exactly off the beaten track, but for tourists seeking to escape the company of their fellow gaijin this place really hits the spot.
On the other hand, there’s no escaping the hordes of happy Tokyoites who descend on the garden every time the cherry trees start breaking out into clouds of pink and white blossoms.
Looking for a place to relax?
Look someplace else.
No worries – the garden is quite large and there are many quiet corners to which one might beat a hasty retreat.
Right, that’s about all the commentary I can wring out of my work-stressed brain at the moment. I’ll let the pictures do the talking from here on.
(Just one more piece of commentary – that is Tokyo Dome right next door. So close you can hear the crowds from the garden, although the cheering tends to be quite muffled so the atmosphere isn’t badly spoilt.)
The Koishikawa Kōrakuen is within easy reach of Iidabashi Station on the Toei Ōedo Line. 300 yen gets you through the entrance. There’s a fair bit of walking involved, on different kinds of terrain – from flat, meandering paths to long flights of stairs – so wear comfortable shoes and pack a bottle of water or two.