On Saturday’s Good Garden Day, I took the chance to visit the gardens of Rikugien in Tokyo. Just as a reminder, this garden was originally created in the Edo period (c. 1603 – 1868), and then recreated in the Meiji period (1868 – 1912). I thought this a prime opportunity to see some beautiful autumnal colour and walk around a garden that I had recently read about.
Despite the crowds of visitors (well, it was Good Garden Day, after all!) I found some secretive spots (if only for a few moments) to enjoy the plant life, scenery and consider the Waka poetry that has been written here over so many years. This was especially pertinent in areas where stones have been carefully positioned – as the garden is known for its 88 marker stones, which are reminiscent of the pilgrimage to the 88 temples on Shikoku. Eighty-eight is also a lucky number in Japanese. Two of these areas struck me. The first was an unassuming, scattered cluster between some still brilliantly verdant maple leaves, and the more autumnal tones of those already fallen.
The other was that of an almost ornamental composition out in the lake. Both reminded me of places very dear to my heart, back home in England.
I found much beauty amongst twisted tree trunks, mottled and flaked bark skins, violet berries and intricate bridges arching over still rivers. Many people were relaxing in the various tea spots and stood over the extensive lake in admiration: a truly beautiful spot to reflect over the events of the last year, and enjoy the last of autumn. I wondered what the original designers of this garden in both Edo and Meiji periods would make of the shakkei (borrowed scenery) of the surrounding city… I suppose we’ll never know!
A garden of winding paths, hidden spots, poetic corners and large reflected skies – definitely worth a visit if you can!
Please read our ebook to find out more about Rikugien… just click here: Rikugien ebook
With the best wishes of clear autumn skies,