Gardens in Tokyo: Koishikawa Korakuen
In spite of the drenching rain and gusty winds of Typhoon Chaba, I visited three gardens in Tokyo on my first day in Japan. Designated “Special Historic and Scenic Parks,” all were within walking distance of the Oedo Subway Line. I trudged gamely from one to another, shielding my camera with the umbrella and enjoying solitary vistas.
Constructed in the early 17th c. by a wealthy Edo courtier as a retirement retreat, Koishikawa Korakuen Garden is a classic pond and hill stroll garden. With an expansive central pond, several watercourses, and dramatic changes in elevation, the garden offers many lovely views.
The central island symbolizes Horaijima, the Island of the Immortals. The stone arrangement at the left is known as Tokudaji, a picturesque reference to sheer rock faces along Japan’s coastline.
View of iris plot, rice paddy, and wisteria trellis.
A more subtle transition appears on this shoreline carefully paved with smooth stones. The asymmetrical edge divides the horizontal plane, emphasizing the contrasting physical textures in a highly stylized manner.
The design of Engetsu-kyo, a stone “full-moon” bridge, originated in China. First designed as practical pedestrian bridge that allowed unimpeded boat traffic, aesthetic possibilities led to its placement in courtly gardens. Since the highly arched structure requires a ladder-like ascent, the bridge is appreciated more for the visual effect of a complete circle created when paired with its reflection.
Tsutenkyo, a vermillion wooden bridge spanning a deep ravine, alludes to a famous expanse at Tofuku-ji, Kyoto.