Sunday, 22 May 2011

Mukojima Hyakkaen

Yesterday we cycled to Mukojima Hyakkaen - a park in Higashi Mukojima near the Sumida River.  Though it features on the Tokyo Metropolitan Government's Parks and Garden's of Tokyo website, it's not really on the radar of most Tokyo-ites.  It's not on the japan guide website,  I've never seen it come up on the Lonely Planet's thorntree and neither my bilingual nor Hiro's Japanese atlas distinguished it from any of the thousands of pocket parks through the city.  It's a small, (1 hectare) but delightful park and  the only remaining flower garden in Tokyo from the Edo age.  It was begun as a private garden in  1804 and then passed to government ownership in 1938 - the leaflet didn't explain why or how, but usually when historic or beautiful places are passed to government hands it has less to do with benevolence and more to do with being behind in tax payments.

Aesthetically Mukojima is quite different from any  public garden I have seen in Tokyo. The free range nature is very different from the highly constructed, but ultra minimalist Zen gardens like Ryoanji in Kyoto.  And different again from the manicured Chinese style gardens like Koishikawa Korakuen.  It reminds me of Hiro's mother's garden or of the gardens in front of the public housing nearby that has just been torn down. By conventional standards it  is somewhat unkempt - 'weeds' don't seem to be pulled out, plants aren't standardized into neat rows, there is little in the way of bare soil or conspicuous cultivation.  It seems like a kind of a 'plants rights' garden - just grow happily, wherever.    And yet there is a  balance and beauty in the seeming lack of order that creates its own harmony.  Hmm... it's a difficult concept to express... This website has a reasonable stab at explaining this idea  somewhat, in the context of  wabi sabi -  a word that seems more popular in western interior design and architecture magazines than it is in Japan.

Mukojima Hyakkaen (Mukojima 100 flowers park)
Higashi Mukojima, Sumida-ku, Tokyo
near Keisei Hikifune, Tobu Oshiage stations.
A tea house

Jungle in the park

Classical Japanese garden features

A bit hazy, but Tokyo Sky Tree is nearby.
Free range plants.

A clover tunnel

A ... flower...

The wisteria on the trellis above had finished blooming -
but looks out on a very peaceful aspect.

some of the 100 flowers of the garden


Theresa said...

Now that's my kind of garden. The prissy manicured ones make me nervous.

Cecilia said...

It's my new favourite garden. If I were a plant, it's just where I would like to live.

Anonymous said...

TOTALLY beautiful...!! I too love "wild" gardens where flowering plants and trees are free to "be themselves"! Great pictures! How lucky you were to go there!

J.D. Gibbard said...

I've been there a couple times. A real hidden gem.