Sunday, May 1, 2016

Tokyo: Hama Rikyo gardens

Japan is famous for its gardens. There are several large gardens through out Tokyo. Our tour of the city took us to Hama Rikyu a large garden located alongside Tokyo bay. The garden has two large seawater ponds connected to the bay that rise and lower with the tide.

While there we were educated on the five important elements of a Japanese garden: 1. water, 2. stones, 3. lantern, 4. bridges, 5. plants.  A sixth element found in many gardens are carps. Because of the salt content in Hama Rikyu ponds, this park did not have any carps.

(Example of a Japanese garden located in Grand Prince Hotel where Todd was staying)

Hama Rikyu used to be a duck hunting ground for royalty several centuries ago.  Here is the explanation given at the site.

"Kamoba is comprised of motodamari, a big pond with islets in the middle of the waterfowl that come flying over to rest, and several hikibori, watercourses dug from the edge of the pond. To start with, some decoy domestic ducks, which have been trained to lure the game waterfowl into a watercourse, are released into the pond. The pond is surrounded by an embankment about three meters in height and it is planted heavily with bamboo grass, bamboos and evergreens so that a relaxing environment for the waterfowl to sense that no one is around can be created. Next, from ohnozoki, a lookout from where people can look out over the pond, the condition of the waterfowl gathered and the direction of the wind are checked, and a the same time, which watercourse to use is determined. Then, a konozoki, a structure built at the end of a watercourse where lookouts hide, people scatter feed while hitting wooden planks. Finally, the waterfowl that have been lured into the chosen watercourse by the feed and the decoys are ambushed by the falcons and the people with next hidden in the shad of the watercourse embankments."

In the center of Hama Rikyu pond is a traditional tea house where visitors can enjoy a traditional tea ceremony. We don't drink tea so we didn't spend any time there.