The embodiment of scenery as it has been cultivated in Japan.
The moment I passed through the gate of Rikugien, the atmosphere changed.
Given its location close to the hustle and bustle of Komagome Station on the Yamanote Line, Tokyo’s main artery, this garden has a tranquility and beauty that is almost unreal.
There are several reasons for the beauty of this garden.
It was landscaped by Yoshiyasu Yanagisawa, who was the highest authority of the age, and it was filled with the best technology and assets of the day.
It was spared from the damage of Edo’s repeated fires, the Great Kanto Earthquake, and war.
But its most noteworthy aspect is its concept.
The garden as a whole represents the scenery of Japan as it was described in ancient waka poetry.
In 88 locations around the garden, you will find recreations of Japan’s scenic beauty as it was written in the Manyoshu and Kokinshu collections of poetry.
Symbolic of this is the most picturesque spot in the garden – Fujishirotoge.
It can’t be expressed with words, and photos don’t do it justice, but the views here are truly beautiful.
You realize how a Japanese garden is a microcosm. And in this view are condensed Yoshiyasu Yanagisawa's feelings about waka.
The construction of this hill was originally inspired by Fujishirozaka, a beauty spot opposite Wakanoura in Kishu that is mentioned in the Manyoshu.
The shoreline in the rear of the above picture is called Deshio no Minato, and it reproduces the scene at Wakanoura during high tide. As you look down to Deshio no Minato from this hill, you are in a spatial recreation of the view down to Wakanoura from Fujishirozaka in Kishu.
This garden was at the heart of Edo’s festivals, and it evokes thoughts of ancient poetry and scenes from all over Japan.
Mr. Shozo Tanaka, a researcher of garden culture, expressed it as follows.
Every time I visit, I cannot help wondering to myself what it is about this garden that is so elaborate and that demands of the viewer such a high degree of cultural refinement.
But don’t worry, the beauty of this garden is spectacular even if you’re not an expert in waka. If you are in Tokyo, you should definitely visit.
However, if you can, please enjoy letting your imagination run free through the spirit of waka hidden in each piece of scenery.
Here you will find the embodiment of scenery as it has been cultivated in Japan.
- 6-16-3 Hon-komagome, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo