2014/11/29

Part 2 : Autumn Leaf Viewing / 紅葉

Koishikawa Kōrakuen Gardens, 小石川後楽園, 紅葉

Part two of this year's autumn leaf viewing (紅葉) is all about the Koishikawa Kōrakuen Gardens (小石川後楽園), here in Bunkyo City (文京区), about a 10 min bicycle ride from my home.

Koishikawa Kōrakuen Gardens, 小石川後楽園, 紅葉Koishikawa Kōrakuen Gardens, 小石川後楽園, 紅葉

Kōrakuen is ranked as one of Tokyo's top autumn leaf viewing spots. The park was originally a residence built in the early 1600s by Tokugawa Yorifusa (徳川頼房), domain ruler of the Tokugawa clan division known as Mito (水戸). In the next generation, Kōrakuen was made into a permanent garden under domain ruler, Tokugawa Mitsukuni (徳川光圀), who was the subject of the long-running Japanese TV period drama, Mito Kōmon (水戸黄門).

Koishikawa Kōrakuen Gardens, 小石川後楽園, 紅葉
Kōrakuen is somewhat atypical as Japanese Gardens go because it borrows heavily from Chinese landscaping styles, as is evident from the use of the many hills, and intricately-patterned stone walkways. Other aspects of the garden that make it unique, are the subtle recreations of far-away lands, both Japanese and Chinese; not that they're meant to be exact replicas, but that the feeling is captured in these re-created landscapes.

Koishikawa Kōrakuen Gardens, 小石川後楽園, 紅葉Koishikawa Kōrakuen Gardens, 小石川後楽園, 紅葉

As time passed, the park grew to have special historical significance as it was very often used by the Tokugawa Shogunate and Mito clan as a gathering place, and for hosting meetings with many foreign dignitaries and domestic leaders alike. Today, the park boasts two official designations as both a Special Place of Scenic Beauty and Special Historic Site, one of the few spots in the country to have this double-distinction protected by the constitution under the Cultural Assets Preservation Act.

Koishikawa Kōrakuen Gardens, 小石川後楽園, 紅葉

Koishikawa Kōrakuen Gardens, 小石川後楽園, 紅葉Koishikawa Kōrakuen Gardens, 小石川後楽園, 紅葉Koishikawa Kōrakuen Gardens, 小石川後楽園, 紅葉

Koishikawa Kōrakuen Gardens is literally a living, breathing work of art with thousands of years of history. Being just a short walk from Tokyo Dome City, I highly recommend this spot to anyone who might be coming in to Tokyo for a visit!

There are lots more photos! Interested readers are welcome to visit the full photo album here.

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