Hama Rikyu Gardens

by Stefan Chiarantano, Mar 23, 2007 | Destinations: Japan

Asakusa is a part of Tokyo that I keep coming back to partly because it's so unpretentious and laid back. 

From Asakusa, I took a river boat cruise to Hama-Rikyu park, which was once the private property of the Tokugawa Shoguns.  I have been here before to take in the beautiful grounds that overlook the Sumida River.   The boat lets you off at the park. 

The park is an oasis from the city that lies just outside its gates.  It's a lovely way to spend an afternoon and a great place to unwind and relax.  The park features many paths that meander through the park.  The silence is broken by the shuffling of feet, the squawking of crows, the chirping of birds, and the din of traffic.  On my walk along a path, I came upon several feral cats roaming about.  They seemed very contented.

On my walk along the boardwalk, I came upon a plaque.  It reads as follows:

Shogun oagari ba

Here was the site of a the port where Tokugawa Tycoon got into and off a boat from Sumida river to Hama Palace and cruised.  In 1868 Yoshinobu, 15th Tokugawa Shogunate (the last Tycoon) came from Osaka and got off the war ship Kaiyo-maru at this port and returned to the Edo castle by horse.

There's a beautiful tea house on site which serves Japanese tea in a beautiful ceramic bowl.  It's lovely just to sit on the veranda of the tea house and take in the surrounding beauty of the landscaped grounds.  I was sad to leave.

On my way out, I walked along the flower gardens.  They are now filled with fields of yellow flowers that glowed in the light.  I sat for a moment by the 300 year old pine, a reminder of the Tokugawa Shogunate, and a historical living relic of the past.  As I left the park, piped music was playing and a taped English message came on announcing the park was closed, "The garden is now closed.  Thank you very much for visiting."  The voice was of a young woman speaking in a very dramatic halting way.

"Thank you" I said to myself as I left the park.