Photo Credit: Kentaro Ohno@flickr
Rikugien is a picturesque garden only a seven minute walk from Komagome Station in the central area of Tokyo. You can enjoy both romantic illuminations and beautiful autumn leaves in the cool autumn nights. There is more than 1,000 trees in their fire-like autumn stage in this beautiful garden. Every year, without fail Rikugien is illuminated and the autumn leaves are colorful from the middle of November to the middle of December. The illuminations are so beautiful that a vast majority of visitors choose to visit at night rather than in the daytime.
Photo Credit: Kentaro Ohno@flickr
Historically, almost 300 years ago, Rikugien garden was created by Yoshiyasu Yanagisawa, an employee of the 5th Shogun, Tunayoshi of the Tokugawa Shogunate in the Edo period. Yanagisawa spent seven years creating this beautiful garden, at the peak of the Edo period in Japan. There were two grand gardens built at the height of the Edo period. Rikugien is one of them, and is still one of the most famed and well-loved gardens in Japan. The name of Rikugien translates to “The Six Principals of Poetry”, which is derived from the concept of the six elements of traditional Waka poetry. The design of the garden represents numerous different scenes from famous Waka poems of the period in which it was built. Waka Poems are a form of classic Japanese literature, characterized by strict adherence to different combinations of 5 or 7 syllable lines. Examples can include poetry styles such as the Tanka, or the Choka.
Photo Credit: w00kie@flickr
In the center of Tokyo, it is rare to see a significant number of autumn leaves, as red as fire, but the Rikugien garden has an astounding number of trees with leaves as red as fireworks. There are more than 1,000 trees in the garden, and all have a variety of shades of this beautiful, and romantic color. The groundskeepers will illuminate the leaves, shining red and gold in the night. It is truly beautiful, more akin to a world of pure fantasy, fantastical, and ethereal.
Photo Credit:: Makoto Nakashima@flickr
As you walk under the fire-like trees, one can almost see the visitors that came long ago, as they would walk through the park, talking, and composing their poetry. Perhaps, you can also see, in the corner of you eye, the spirit of Yoshiyasu Yanagisawa as you walk. In the very center of the garden, there is a large pond, reflecting the fire-like figures of the trees, like a mirror, showing the ethereal beauty of this beautifully restored park. It is astonishing that one can find such a park, unworldly and illuminated, aged and historical, in the very heart of Tokyo.
Photo Credit: mrhayata@flickr
There are several traditional Japanese style cafes in Rikugien. One notable example is Momiji Chaya, a seasonal purveyor of traditional Japanese green tea and sweets, their highly recommended wagashi set. Momiji Chaya also sell original, exclusive Rikugien souvenirs, as well as their famed green tea and sweets. This is just one of several examples within the garden, which contains several traditional Japanese cafes and shops.
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Address: 6-16 Honkomagome, Bunkyo Ward, Tokyo
Access: 5 minute walk from Komagome Station
Illumination Period: November 19th – December 7th, 2016
Hours: 9:00 AM – 9:00 PM
Website: Rikugien Gardens