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.
It 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.
We missed the Lotus blossoms but the dried seed heads are quite interesting, don’t you think?
I loved the old trees, their mossy bark shows plenty of character.
The garden was home to quite a few aquatic birds.
On 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.
This was a popular spot for drawing, taking pictures, or just contemplating.
On this side of the island you can see a stone lantern and what I think is a shrine, painted bright red.
One 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.
The 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.
This 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.
The 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.
Here’s a closer look at the bridge.
Another old tree with lots of character.
This slope is supposed to represent Mt. Atago in the old capitol city of Kyoto.
A path through the woods.
In 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.
Back into the woods we went.
And came upon this bridge, painted an almost shocking orange. It provides a visual wake-up call after all the restful green.
If you keep going you see an artificial river traversed by a bridge fringed with live green.
You can also cross via a stepping stone path.
Which 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.
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.
That is what I was thinking. The scarecrow looks too artistic to leave out in a garden. Someone put a good bit of work into that one.
True. There are several of them, though.
Yes, this garden has more individuality than some of the other Japanese stroll gardens in Tokyo.
That is some scarecrow. Wonderful! I really like the splashes of color among the cool green. A great contrast.
I liked the splashes also. It’s kind of boring when everything is green, green, green.
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!
Don’t get me wrong, I liked the orange bridge, even if it was surprising.
I suppose we gardeners would consider this more a park than a garden. I do miss seeing flower borders, but the green and use of rock and water is very calming. 🙂
There are a lot more flowers in spring, as you probably know.
I agree with Cathy…it needs more flowers. Still, it looks like a lovely and peaceful place for a walk!
More flowers would be better. I’d like to be there when the azaleas and cherries are in bloom.
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.
Wish I had the space and money for more water features.
A lawn was probably a kind of status symbol when the garden was built. If you could afford to maintain it then you were probably somebody. Most people were tearing up grass and growing herbs like dandelions in Europe.
I like the lotus and water lilies, and that stone path through the woods does look very inviting.
True about the lawn, but then the whole garden is pretty labor intensive and so quite a status symbol also, I would think.
I love the Lotus seed heads! The photo shows them in an interesting perspective — mid-distance and surrounded by the awesome Lotus foliage. Wow, the scarecrow is quite impressive. Great photos of the reflecting ponds! It’s a beautiful garden.
I thought the Lotus was really striking. Judy’s photography, or course.
A very tranquil garden – I especially loved the hits of red and orange amongst all the green.
I like this garden-scarecrows, lotus heads, fun and artistic.. the whole works, it works for that old time but modern feel of a Japanese garden.
It does have a lot of contrasting elements.
That orange bridge would certainly wake you up! Maybe orange is a lucky or prosperous colour. A very lovely garden, I especially liked that marvelous scarecrow and dried lotus seedheads.xxx
I do love orange flowers, as you may know.
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.
Yeah, I’m afraid the roller coaster and amusement park music was kind of distracting.
I love that scarecrow! One of a kind, for sure!
The Japanese have a lovely way with their gardens. I love all these photos from your trip, especially the turtle coming up out of the water on your last post. The scarecrow is unique!