Hama-rikyu Gardens (an oasis of calm)May 9, 2017 in Japan
Today's my last full day in Tokyo. I wanted to do something relaxing and found I could take a 35 min river boat cruise from Asukasa (my part of town) to Hama-rikyu Gardens, which date back to 1654. As the leaflet says 'Hama Palace where sea breeze blows as a reminder of the Edo era'. Shape-wise the garden is a moated square, with 3 ponds. One is tidal, controlled with sluices, and the other 2 were kamoba - duck-hunting grounds.
The trip down this stretch of the river isn't the prettiest (I was looking at the west bank): lots of concrete homes and offices along raised banks with flood gates wherever a tributary joins the Sumida.
As the boat slowed I could see the tops of the trees in Hama-rikyu showing and thought we were going to pull up, but instead the boat manoeuvred through a flood barrier into the 'moat' (as on the map). Honestly I gasped: little hillocks covered in Japanese black pine, curving paths. Such a surprise!
I was too late for the cherry blossom, the wisteria and the peonies, but it was still a lovely spot to while away a few hours exploring. There's a tea house which the leaflet said served tea and Japanese sweets. What I didn't realise was that they do it seriously, not with the tea ceremony, but on tatami mats, and with instructions about how to eat the sweet first, and how to drink the matcha tea. An unexpected extra 😊
Finally the duck ponds. Very clever ... deep, narrow channels run off them, each ending in a hide with peep holes. The ducks were attracted with decoys then caught one way or another. In a very Japanese way, a memorial has been built to honour the ducks that lost their lives.
So today was not only enjoyable but it reconnected me with how I felt when I first arrived, which I'd lost a little over the last few days - just tired I think. I'm glad.Read more