A Tokyo Power Garden

You’ve heard of the power lunch, power walk, and power nap, right? Well, Koishikawa Korakuen is a power garden. It was commissioned in the 17th Century by a member of the ruling Tokugawa clan. The name means “the garden for enjoying power later on”, at least according to the Tokyo Parks website.


Like Rikugien, this garden is organized around a central pond featuring an island. Its 18 acres are full of miniature representations of landscapes both real and derived from literature.

DSC_0019It did rain for a bit when we first arrived. Koishikawa Korakuen is located right next to a the Tokyo Dome and an amusement park. You can see part of a roller coaster in this picture. Now and then music and the sound of roller coaster cars with their shrieking riders drifted into the garden. The Tokugawas would not approve.

DSC_0026We missed the Lotus blossoms but the dried seed heads are quite interesting, don’t you think?

DSC_0033I loved the old trees, their mossy bark shows plenty of character.

DSC_0050The garden was home to quite a few aquatic birds.

DSC_0067On one side of the island there is a rock formation (to the left) that is supposed to represent the head of a turtle. I don’t see it myself.

DSC_0110This was a popular spot for drawing, taking pictures, or just contemplating.

DSC_0125On this side of the island you can see a stone lantern and what I think is a shrine, painted bright red.

DSC_0129One thing this garden has that you won’t find at Rikugien is a little rice paddy, complete with scarecrows. I thought this scarecrow was particularly artistic and full of personality.  Nice fashion sense, too.

DSC_0133The idea of including a small patch of grain in a garden is appealing. The netting is to keep the grains of rice safe from the birds.

DSC_0138This channeled stream has a dreamy quality.

One of the things I don’t like so much about these Japanese stroll gardens is all the space devoted to closely clipped lawn. Personally, I think it’s boring. Moss, stone, or ground covers would be preferable. The lawns must be a lot of work to maintain and frankly, I don’t think they have the resources to do it right. If you look closely you can see lots of weeds and ragged edges.

DSC_0159The one flower that could be found in abundant bloom during our visit was Red Spider Lily (Lycoris radiata).  Behind this patch of Spider Lily you can see the Full Moon Bridge, which originated as an element in Chinese gardens.

DSC_0166Here’s a closer look at the bridge.

DSC_0144Another old tree with lots of character.

DSC_0165This slope is supposed to represent Mt. Atago  in the old capitol city of Kyoto.

DSC_0068A path through the woods.

DSC_0081In one corner of the garden there is a second, smaller pond. It’s full of water lilies (just starting to bloom) and has its own island.

DSC_0071Back into the woods we went.

DSC_0173And came upon this bridge, painted an almost shocking orange. It provides a visual wake-up call after all the restful green.

DSC_0203If you keep going you see an artificial river traversed by a bridge fringed with live green.

DSC_0194You can also cross via a stepping stone path.

DSC_0187Which provides a view from below of the bridge you just crossed.

The Tokugawa were stern rulers, but they could appreciate a nice garden. This is the last of the Tokyo gardens from our trip. There is more to come, however, including our stays in Kyoto and Kanazawa.

However, that’s all for right now.

29 Comments on “A Tokyo Power Garden”

  1. This garden seem a bit unusual. What with the shocking orange bridge, rice and scarecrows. The scarecrow looks more like a sculpture it looks so real.
    It is amazing to me that every tree, shrub etc seems to be manicured. I just read the book _Cutting Back_ by Leslie Buck. She writes about her apprenticeship in the gardens of Kyoto. It is an interesting read. Since you may have been through some of the gardens she talks about you might like to read it too if you haven’t already.
    I have enjoyed all that you have written about the gardens, actually about all of your trip. I can’t wait to read more.

  2. The stone paths leading through the woods are quite wonderful. Ditto the outline of the tree and the mossy tree trunk. From your photos, the orange bridge seems to echo the colour of the spider lilies but I agree, finding an orange bridge rather than the more traditional red is a bit of a shock. Nice, though, that the umbrella in the first photo is the same shade!

  3. Despite the bright orange bridge this garden looks very calming to me, with the still water, the rock pools and the winding paths…I’m inspired to put more water features around our garden. Love the mossy trees, everything is planted to be enjoyed for centuries.

  4. Hello Jason, that orange/red bridge is a bit of a shock to come across after being lulled into a false sense of security from all the greens. I love the woodland paths too, so pristine. I bet the rollercoaster in the background does detract from the atmosphere, especially when a train of screaming riders whizzes over the track above the trees.

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