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A photography blog about Tokyo, run by Australian photographer Rohan Gillett

Plum Blossoms at Koishikawa Korakuen in 2019

Koishikawa Korakuen has always been one of my favourite parks in Tokyo.  It is really good because it so historical and has so much to see there. The park had its beginnings when it was created as a residence for Yorifusa Tokugawa in the 1600s.  Over many years different things were added and finally in 1938 it became a public park. Now, we can all enjoy the grounds and what is inside, including its beautiful plum blossom grove.  

When I visited Koishikawa for these photographs the weather was extremely overcast, but the flowers were the best I had seen in 2019.  Well, some blue sky was trying to poke through the clouds, but it wasn’t able to get through for much length of time. But with the flowers in such good condition, I didn’t mind … too much.

All the flowers looked great and in in full bloom.  Out of all the places I visited in 2019 to look at plum blossoms, Koishikawa Korakuen’s looked the best.  The pink and white trees were well-mixed together in some areas, much more than at other parks I thought, so you weren’t just faced either walls of straight white or pink.  To see a lot of white behind pink, or the reverse, was very nice.

For my visit, there were a lot of people there.  Luckily there weren’t as many as Mogusaen when I visited, but there were quite a few people there.  It was good to see most of them with cameras. And it was clear by looking at some of their gear, some of them were very, very serious photographers.

I have found over the years that most of the people who are seriously into photography, are usually willing to have a chat.  Just give them a smile or a nod, and you can make a new friend or two. Don’t be scared. You’ll find most of them can speak at least a little English and would be very happy to talk to someone while they are taking photos, just like us.

In some ways it was a pity that I got to the park quite late in the afternoon.  With so much cloud cover and a sun that was starting to get quite low in the sky, the light was actually quite gentle.  I know earlier I was talking about wanting some blue sky, but that usually mean dealing with harsher light. In the end I guess it all worked out for the best because I was fairly happy with the photos.

One thing that I really thought about after taking these pictures was getting a new lens.  I took some of these photographs with the XF 55-200 mm f3.5-4.8 lens. It is a great lens that gives great bokeh, however it has one serious and one minor problem.  The serious problem is the minimum focus distance, which is one metre. That means you have to stand well away from the flow, which isn’t ideal, quite a nuisance really.  And the minor problem, is that if you use autofocus, the lens can spend a lot of time hunting for a place to focus on. Some manual focusing skills can be quite handy with this lens!

The plum blossom grove is in the north-east section of the park, right next to the amusement park of Tokyo Dome.  So, every so often you get to hear the rush of the rollercoasters and the screams of those riding them. It does get a little noisy, but it isn’t too bad.  I think some of the locals are probably so used to it, that to them it might just be ambient noise.

I just wish I had had time to enjoy some more time walking around the park.  Koishikawa has some beautiful bridges and a (no-longer used) temple on the grounds, plus some other stuff, but as I had visited Ushi Tenjin Kitano Shrine earlier, I didn’t have enough time.  

To be honest, I highly recommend Koishikawa Korakuen in any season, but if you can visit it when the plum or cherry blossoms are in bloom, you are in for a treat.  If you want to see the official website, click here. I also have my own article about it where you can read about all the features that it has on offer here.

Gear used for these pictures:

Camera - Fujifilm X-T2

Lenses - Fujifilm XF 16 - 55 mm f2.8 R LM WR

  Fujifilm XF 55-200 mm f3.5-4.8 R LM OIS

   

Film Simulation - Velvia/Vivid