I write this post in anticipation of the annual illumination show of the autumn leaves in Rikugien Garden 六義園.
The garden is a sight to see during this special event, but there is a downside. One has to endure the huge crowd and a long line of excited visitors who doesn’t mind waiting 30 minutes or so out in the cold just to see the autumn illumination within the walls (the same is true for spring sakura illumination). Because of the crowd, it was quite impossible to take photos. Having the ability to squeeze into tiny spaces and the quick point-and-shoot ninja move solved the problem.
The entrance fee has been 300 yen for the past couple of years.
Like many gardens in Japan, this entrancing piece of land has its own story. 回遊式築山泉水 kaiyuushuu teien – as defined by Japanese Garden Dictionary, is a typical Edo period garden – a stroll garden, wherein one can enjoy different views of the garden one after another by leisurely walking along a path circling a pond.
Quick historical background. Rikugien was daimyo garden created around 1695 and 1702 under Yanagisawa Yoshiyasu 柳沢吉保, with the permission of the fifth shogunate Tokugawa Tsunayoshi 徳川綱吉. The garden was left in disrepair after Yanagisawa died. In 1878, the founder of Mitsubishi Motors, Iwasaki Yataro 岩崎弥太郎, bought the garden, restored it, and donated it to the Tokyo City government in 1938. Thereafter it was designated as an important cultural asset.
This area had some special effects and soft background music that made me think of eerie bogs and luminescent fairy havens. I was hoping to meet Tinkerbell or some other magical creature, but all there was were a sea of tired-looking salarymen, starry-eyed OLs (office ladies), excited oldies discussing history, teens, young adults, couples on a date ocassionally commenting “kawaii” in high pitched hushed voices, and policemen shouting in the background, (politely) asking people to move forward. * sigh *
I almost fell in trying to take the photo. Low rope fences were hard to see in the dark and I was not supposed to step over this boundary, lest I want some grandpa or grandma glare at me like I’m a naughty little kid.
One can go around up to the “christmas tree” (it’s not a christmas tree though), but can’t go on the island with pinetrees as this is a separate island in the middle of the garden.
We finished the tour in roughly 30 minutes. I felt it was too short to take a delightful stroll and marvel (or should I say, gawk?) at the well preserved pieces of history. There was a place where one could munch on some dangos and sip some hot tea, but the area was packed. Shivering, we left the place, went to the nearest restaurant to rest our heels and fill our grumbling tummies.
The garden is located in Honkomagome, Tokyo. Click here for another version of its short historical overview and a quick introduction of Rikugien garden.
Click this website >> 2016 Illumination Schedule for Rikugien Garden.
For more information, you can visit these Tokyo Metropolitan Park Association websites (in English) for flowering schedules, short history, and access to other gardens located around Tokyo.