Hama Rikyu, Tokyo
Tokyo has dozens of parks and gardens that allow you to escape the noise of the city and enjoy a more natural side of Tokyo. What makes Hama Rikyu stand out amongst the others is that it embraces its surroundings, and creates a beautiful harmony between the modern city and a more natural landscape. This combined with an ancient tea house and a free audio guide makes Hama Rikyu our favorite of all the landscape gardens in Tokyo.
Hama Rikyu History
Hama Rikyu is known as one of Tokyo’s most attractive landscape gardens, but the garden was originally established in 1603 as the Tokyo residence for the feudal lord. During this time, the area was also used for duck hunting. After the emperor took residence in Tokyo the gardens became a place for the royal family to take private walks and relax. It wasn’t until 1946 that the park became open to the public, and even then the grounds would be occasionally reserved to celebrate and welcome foreign dignitaries.
Hama Rikyu Attractions
As mentioned in our intro, Hama Rikyu is our favorite of all of the landscape gardens in Tokyo. The garden consists of a wide range of trees and flowers that drastically change the landscape from season to season. This alone make Hama Rikyu worth visiting several times a year, but what makes the garden so special in our eyes, is its beautiful mix of skyscrapers and nature.
Most gardens in Tokyo surround you with massive trees that block out all surrounding evidence that you are in a city. Don’t get us wrong, this is great, but Hama Rikyu does something completely different, and embraces its surroundings. The mixture of trees, lakes, and skyscrapers is a refreshingly unique sight that made us fall in love with the gardens.
On top of the beautiful backdrop, you can find a fantastic tea house in the center of a lake. At this tea house, you can enjoy a delicious cup of macha and a traditional Japanese sweet while relaxing on some authentic tatami mats or at an outdoor table. This snack may cost you about six bucks, but the experience is well worth it.
There is more than tea to this garden though. One of Hama Rikyu’s most popular attractions is the Fujimi Hill that offers a spectacular view of the park. Along the path to the hill you will also find several cherry blossom trees that are absolutely gorgeous in early spring.
Another pro to this already wonderful garden is that you can get a free audio guide that will take you on a 60-90 minute tour of the grounds. The guide is filled with historic tidbits that will give you a better understanding and appreciation of the park. Definitely a nice bonus that you should take advantage of while here.
The park is also well known for being located next to Tokyo’s bay. Hama Rikyu’s lakes are actually filled with seawater, and will change in level with the tides. Being next to the bay, the Tokyo Water Bus actually has a port at one of the garden’s corners.
Hama Rikyu is a great combination of manmade and natural beauty that should not be missed while you are in Tokyo. Come, enjoy the atmosphere, relax with a cup of macha, and just take in what makes Tokyo really special.
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