Introduction
History
Hamarikyu Gardens Tidal-Pond
Japanese tea café and a bridge
Other Japanese tearooms
Three-hundred year old pine tree
Peony and flower gardens
Wild duck hunting sites
Event
Access
Conclusion
Nearby

Hamarikyu Gardens, located just by the Sumida River and Tokyo Bay, is known for being home to the only remaining tidal pond in Tokyo. Hamarikyu is one of the oldest Daimyo (feudal lord) gardens in Tokyo, and is allocated as a special important cultural property of Japan. During the Edo period, the garden premises were used as a compound and a hawk-hunting field for the Tokugawa clan. After the end of the feudal era, it served as a villa for the imperial family.The beautiful nature in the gardens creates a nice, serene atmosphere. Hamarikyu Gardens is loved as a spacious oasis in the surrounding Shiodome skyscraper district.

History of Hamarikyu Gardens

Edo Period (1603 - 1867)

During the Kanei period (1624-1644), the Tokugawa family ruled the area that is currently Hamarikyu Gardens. Although nowadays, Hamarikyu Gardens is known for its stunning landscaping and greenery, it did not look like its present state during its earlier days. The area was vast and very much bare, and was used by the first shogun, Ieyasu, and the third shogun, Iemitsu, as a hawk-hunting field. Ieyasu and Iemitsu visited this area hundreds of times to hunt rabbits and ducks.
After being used as a hunting field for twenty years, Tsunashige, Iemitsu’s third son, was the first to use this field for a different purpose. When Tsunashige was given this land from Iemitsu, he filled the land and built his own compound. He named the estate “Kofu Hamayashiki”.
Later when Ienobu, Tsunashige’s son, was named as the sixth shogun, the compound became the property of the shogun’s family. It was then renamed “Hama Goden” (Goden meaning a compound for the upper class). Ienobu remodeled the compound drastically, building a chashitsu (tearoom) and a Japanese garden. Succeeding shoguns kept reforming the land, and during the 11th Shogun Ienari’s rule (1787-1837), the compound was fully complete as it stands now.

Post-Edo and Hamarikyu Today

After Meiji Restoration (around 1860s to 1870s), the land was granted to the imperial family and was renamed “Hamarikyu”. Unfortunately, catastrophic events such as the Great Kanto Earthquake (1923) and World War II destroyed almost all of the historic buildings and trees in the gardens. After the Second World War ended, Hamarikyu was reconstructed by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and opened to the public in April of 1946.

Hamarikyu Gardens' Tidal-Pond


Tidal Pond

Hamarikyu is the only garden retaining a tidal pond in Tokyo. Tidal ponds used to be more commonly seen in parks, such as the Former Yasuda Gardens and Kiyosumi Gardens, but they no longer draw water from the ocean. Traditionally, tidal ponds were popular and commonly seen in Japan. In the eastern part of Hamarikyu Gardens, there is a floodgate to adjust the water levels in tune with the tide. Within the pond are sea creatures such as mullets and eels.

Otsuai-bashi and Nakajima-no-ochaya


Nakajima-no-ochaya

Floating in the center of the pond is an island called Nakajima. Here, you can relax and take a break, as there is Japanese tea café on the island. The café serves matcha (green tea) and a range of Japanese sweets at prices between 500 and 700 yen. There are both traditional tatami seats and table seats (but of course, we would recommend you the Tatami seats)! The indoor tatami seats are great for enjoying traditional Japanese vibes, but on warmer days the table seats placed outside are nice as well.
This Ochaya, or tearoom, was first built by the shogun Ienobu in 1707. Although it was continuously destroyed in fires after fires, the ochaya was reconstructed repeatedly, with the last reconstructions taking place in 1983. On the island, you can find a small, peaceful garden along with displays of Japanese traditional accessories.


Otsuai-bashi

A 118-meter bridge, called Otsuai-bashi, connects Nakajima with its surrounding land. Although originally built by Ienobu, the bridge was later rebuilt using hinoki wood brought over from Kochi prefecture. There are three bridges to Nakajima in total, and the longest one with an even smaller island in the middle of the bridge is none other than Otsutai-bashi.

Matsu-no-ochaya and Tsubame-no-ochaya


Matsu-no-ochaya

Although there are two more ochaya, the only ochaya currently in business is the one on Nakajima. The other two, Matsu-no-ochaya and Tsubame-no-ochaya, are located in the gardens. Succeeding shoguns used this building to engage in ikebana (Japanese flower arrangements), waka (Japanese poetry) and meals with their guests. Both of the tearooms were built in the Edo period, though it was burned down in the Second World War in 1944. With the help of the Tokyo Metropolitan Park Association, Matsu-no-ochaya was rebuilt in 2010, and Tsubame-no-ochaya in 2015.


Tsubame-no-ochaya

Unfortunately, the inside of Tsubame-no-ochaya is not open to the public, but Matsu-no-ochaya is open for a guided tour every Thursday from 1PM to 3PM. Tours of Matsu-no-ochaya are held in groups of 25, with a volunteer guiding the room during the 20 minute sessions. Although the tours are held only in Japanese, it is a great opportunity to take a look inside a traditional Japanese tearoom.

Three-hundred year old pine tree


Three-hundred year old pine tree

Entering the garden from Ote-mon, you will find a massive pine tree. This black pine tree was planted in honor of Ienobu, applauding his great reconstruction of the garden. Since the reconstruction of the garden took place during the beginning of the Edo period, it can be calculated that this tree is at least 300 years old. Due to its rather bulky, robust looks, the pine tree looks as if it is consisted of several smaller trees. However, you can clearly see that it is indeed just one sturdy pine tree by finding its wide stem. The way it stands majestically is unbelievably amazing, and you can surely feel the depth of its history.

Peony and flower gardens

Just by the great black pine, there is the peony garden and the flower garden, where you can enjoy a completely different taste of nature’s beauty.

In the peony garden, 60 different types of 800 colorful peonies welcome visitors in the spring. Since there aren’t many places in Tokyo where you can see this many peonies at once, the peony garden in Hamarikyu Gardens is a must-see.


Flower garden

The flower garden right by the peonies has canola flowers in the spring and cosmos in the autumn. Both canola flowers and cosmos are flowers representing their respective seasons in Japan. Every year, they signify when the new season is just around the corner.

Wild duck hunting sites

There are two duck hunting sites in Hamarikyu, “Koshindo Kamoba” and “Shinsenza Kamoba” and both were built and used from the 1700s, although both are currently not in use. There are only five duck hunting sites left in Japan, and these two are the only ones you can take a look at in the Tokyo area. On the hunting grounds, there are displays of a traditional hut and equipment actually used at that time.


Wild-duck hunting site

Wild duck hunting started in the Edo period and came to its peak during the 11th shogun, Ienari’s rule. This field was frequently used until the end of the Edo period, and it became unused in the Meiji era. The field was run down and empty, but later was equipped once again and used until 1944.

The hunting style and technique were well thought out. They used bait and well-trained ducks to lure the wild ducks in one corner, and used a special net called the “Sadeami” to catch the wild ducks without hurting them. Those trying to escape from the net were caught by hawks, in order to stop the fleeing wild ducks from signaling other ducks of the hunters and the risks.
There is a monumental stone called “Kamozuka” built in 1935 for all the ducks that were hunted.

Events

Special New Years Event - 正月開園 (Jan.)

On the 2nd and 3rd of January, a special New Years event is hosted at all of the Tokyo Metropolitan gardens, which of course, includes Hamarikyu Gardens. You can enjoy a variety of Japanese traditional events such as Hagoita (Japanese battledore; similar to badminton), Koma-mawashi (Japanese spinning top) and falconry demonstration. The tea café and guided tour on Nakajima will be operating as usual. The events and acts will vary annually, so make sure to take a look at the official site for more information.

Access

Nearest station: Shimbashi Station 新橋駅 (JR Lines, Tokyo Metro G08, Toei A10, Yurikamome U01)

From Shinjuku Station 新宿駅

【Shinjuku Sta.】JR Yamanote Line / for Shibuya
→【Shimbashi Sta.】from Karasumori Exit → about a 10-minute walk

From Tokyo Station 東京駅

【Tokyo Sta.】JR Yamanote Line / for Shinagawa
→【Shimbashi Sta.】from Karasumori Exit → about a 10-minute walk

From Narita Airport 成田空港

【Narita Airport Sta.】Keisei Narita Sky Access Line / for Haneda Airport
→【Shimbashi Sta.】from Exit A1→ about a 10-minute walk

From Haneda Airport 羽田空港

【Haneda Airport Sta.】Keikyu Line / for Shinagawa
→【Shimbashi Sta.】from Exit A1→ about a 10-minute walk

Only Garden close to the ocean is Hamarikyu!

Although there are many parks and gardens in the city, Hamarikyu Garden is the only garden that exists near the ocean. Enjoying the beautiful Japanese gardens while feeling close to the ocean is a new experience. Another great aspect of this garden is the strong sense of the 4 seasons. According to each season, you can see and feel different parts of nature. From cherry blossoms all the way to fallen leaves and cosmos. You do not want to miss out on the elegant experience of the Hamarikyu Gardens.

Information

Address
1-1 Hamarikyu-teien, Chuo-ku, Tokyo
Phone
03-3541-0200
Hours
9:00a.m. to 5:00p.m. (last entry at 4:00p.m.)
Closed
Open year-round
Fee
General: ¥300

65 and older: ¥150

*Free for elementary and junior high school students residing in or attending school in Tokyo
Credit Card
Unaccepted
Guide
Free tours available in Japanese and English
【Japanese】
 Fridays, Saturdays and holidays from 11:00a.m. and 2:00p.m.

【English:】
 Saturdays from 11:00a.m. and Sundays from 2:00p.m.

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