Located near the quiet station of Komagome on the Yamanote line, is another Edo period park, named Rikugien. Rikugien is not very big but inside is very, very pretty. The park's designer, Yoshiyasu Yanagisawa, put in eighty-eight markers around the park to be used as vantage points from which to view the most interesting spots in the garden. Today about half of those markers remain, but the beauty of Rikugien and its Edo feel are still intact.
I really like Rikugien for many reasons. First, if you like cherry blossoms it has a huge weeping cherry blossom tree right at the front gate. The tree is quite famous and it'll have so many photographers crowded around it in spring. Go through another small gate, and you'll be into the park proper.
Rikugien is typical of Japanese gardens/parks from the Edo period, with everything built around a central pond which you stroll around and admire the view from the winding paths. There are also benches at good intervals if you feel the need to have a rest.
Another feature of the parks from that era, is that there are so many contrasts. Rikugien, for example, has a forest-like area, then a short distance away are rambling narrow paths and in another, nearer the entrance, are lawns. I think the effect is just great. Plus with the little bridges that cross tiny canals, you really get a great sense of exploration. And if you need to get above everything to get a better perspective, just climb Fujishiro-toge (the tallest hill here) and you'll get a pretty good view of the park.
And what Japanese garden would be complete without a teahouse? Next to central pond you'll find, Fukiage-no-chaya, that serves macha (green tea) with wagashi (Japanese sweets). The tea is served hot or cold and costs 500 yen. It's very nice, sitting next to the water, enjoying the view on a sunny day while sipping your tea watching birds fly across the pond or the carp and turtles.
Rikugien is a great park. It is very beautiful and has a good connection with Tokyo`s history. I highly recommend it. You can see its website here. If you visit it, just make sure to pick up a pamphlet from the reception as it will give you full details of what you will find inside.
How to get to Rikugien Gardens
Rikugien is really easy to get to. From JR Komagome Station leave via the South exit. Rikugien is about a ten minute walk away. On the way to there you`ll walk past one of the old gates that are no longer used (except during the cherry blossom season), so walk to the next corner, turn right and you`ll see the entrance to the gardens. Here is a Google map here to help you:
How much is admission?
The price of admission into the park is 300 yen
Rikugien is open from 9am to 5pm (last entry at 4:30pm), however, like all parks run by the Tokyo Metropolitan Park Association, it is closed from December 29 to January 3.
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Edo-Tokyo Museum - learn a little more about the great city
Gotokuji - the temple that is home to Japan's maneki neko
Japan Open-Air Folk House Museum - see some houses from Japan's past
Kyu-Shiba rikyu Gardens - another of Tokyo's beautiful parks
Omiya Hachiman - a very local temple in Suginami ward