In Tokyo, Rukigien Park is an oasis of harmony and beauty, hidden among the skyscrapers and rattling streams of transport. The park is a much-loved traditional Japanese garden that is remarkably well preserved. Like Shinjuku Gyoen National Park, Rukigien is considered to be the best garden of its kind in Tokyo.
The construction of the private garden of the feudal lord Yanagisawa Yoshiyasu was started in 1695 and in 1702 it was completed. In 1923, the park was donated by Yataro Iwasaki to Tokyo Metropolitan and since 1938 it has been open to the public.
The Garden Of Poetry
The name, Rikugien, was taken from the six principles of composing waka, Japanese poetry and along the path that goes around the pond, 88 landscapes from famous Japanese poems are reproduced in miniature.
What Type Of Garden Is Rikugien Park?
Rikugien Park is a typical “kai-yu” (“walk-around”) style garden. In 1953, the Japanese government designated Rikugien Garden as a special site of great historic value. The park occupies a space of 87,800 square meters, where over 6,000 trees, both evergreen and deciduous, grow.
Rikugien Park is one of the best-preserved Japanese landscape gardens of the Edo period. It has even survived Kanto’s big earthquake and bombing attacks during World War II without any serious damage.
Features Of Rikugien Park
Rikugien Park has everything a traditional Japanese garden is supposed to: a large central pond, teeming with golden carp and sluggish turtles, fantastical islands, crooked rustic bridges over gurgling streams, man-made hills, symbolizing the sacred Japanese mountains, and moss-encrusted stone lanterns.
The 4 Seasons On Rikugien
Here you’ll find traditional pines and Japanese maples as well as dignified camellias and magnolias. The plants were chosen in such a way that in any season the park offers a splendid sight.
If you come to the park in spring you’ll admire the blooming azaleas and cherry trees. Of particular note are the park’s rare weeping cherry trees that are spectacular when in bloom.
The park is also a very popular sport in the Koyo season for viewing the yellow and red autumn colors.
The Three Tea Houses Of Rikugien Park
Hidden among the majestic trees there are three traditional wooden teahouses. Their visitors are offered light snacks, Japanese sweets, and tea, made according to the rules of ceremony, that are several thousand years old.
About Japanese Garden Design
Garden design has always been an important part of Japanese culture. It reflects a philosophical and aesthetic understanding of Nature as a harmonious universe. It drastically differs from the European park, which demonstrates the triumph of a man over nature which is viewed as a disorganized and chaotic world.
In the Japanese garden, the creator attempts to bring to light and emphasizes the beauty and spirituality of Nature. Each element of the garden composition, even the most unnoticeable one, is very important as a part of the Universe, conveying sacred meaning.
In Japanese culture, we are a part of Nature. Not above it, but inside of it. This determines the special relations between People and Nature: We don’t try to conquer it but strive to live in harmony with nature.
Japanese garden differs according to the function it serves. The small gardens are for contemplation and meditation, and the large landscape gardens (or parks otherwise) are places to walk where one can merge with Nature.
There are also hill gardens (Tsukiyama) and flat gardens (Hiraniva). Among the latest, the most popular are dry gardens or stone gardens (Karesansui), where the natural landscape is reproduced in a more abstract way by using stones, gravel, sand, and sometimes moss for representing mountains, islands, seas, and rivers.
Symbols Of Japanese Gardens
The use of a symbol instead of a picture marked the transition from the landscape garden to a philosophical one, discovering the very essence of Nature.
For centuries Japanese garden design underwent certain changes. But the one thing stayed invariable – the compulsory use of such elements as water and stone.
Water is a symbol of the dark female origin (Yin) and stone – is of the light male origin (Yang). Their eternal confrontation and indissoluble unity are the basis of the Universe.