The Hamarikyu Gardens are a large group of traditionally styled gardens at the mouth of the Sumida River which stands in stark contrast to the skyscrapers of the adjacent Shiodome District. Opened to the public on April 1, 1946, the gardens have had several functions over the centuries. They were originally constructed as part of a feudal lord’s Tokyo residence and duck hunting grounds during the Edo period (1603-1867). The gardens later served as the strolling gardens of an imperial detached palace before being opened to the public in its current form. Remnants from the past are still visible throughout the gardens including several reconstructed duck hunting blinds and the remains of an old moat and reconstructed rock wall.
The gardens are divided into two major sections. The southern garden was where the residence of the feudal lord was once located. The northern garden was added later on. The park features a seawater pond (Shioiri Pond) which changes levels with the tides. Actually, Hamarikyu itself is surrounded by a seawater moat which is filled by the Tokyo Bay.
There is a teahouse (Nakajima no Ochaya) on an island where visitors can rest, enjoy the scenery and partake in the various refreshments available, including matcha (Japanese green tea) and Japanese sweets served in a tea ceremony style.
Hamarikyu is attractive in any season. Late February brings ume (plum) blossoms, while the spring cherry blossom season starts from late March and continues to early April. Several species of flowers bloom in spring including fields of peony, cosmos and canola blossoms. Japanese falconry and aikido are demonstrated during the New Year. The gardens are not as famous for fall foliage as some of the other gardens around Tokyo are but they do offer plenty of maple, ginkgo and other trees that display their beautiful autumn colors between late November and early December.
If you schedule a cruise down the Sumida River, combine it with a stop off at Hamarikyu Gardens. The cruise boats will drop you off at the gardens and the journey from Asakusa to Hamarikyu takes approximately 35 minutes.
Tokyo Tower, visible from the Hamarikyu Gardens
The seawater pond
Statue of a diety
Rainbow Bridge in Odiaba visible from Hamarikyu Gardens