A Famous Healing Park in the Heart of Tokyo! An In-Depth Guide to the Charms of Hama-rikyu
Hama-rikyu is a place of healing that is rich in nature even though it is right in the middle of Tokyo. Below are the highlights and charms of this little-known spot in the city!
1. What is Hama-rikyu?
Hama-rikyu (official name: Hama-rikyu Onshi Teien) is a Japanese garden that is facing Tokyo Bay. It has been gaining popularity as a park with an abundance of greenery and flowers that bloom from season to season, despite the fact that it is located in the heart of the city and surrounded by skyscrapers. It is an ancient noble spot that originally housed the villa of the Tokugawa family, and was later used as an imperial residence. It has been designated as a place of scenic beauty and a special historic site of Japan.
Admission fee: General: 300 JPY, Seniors 65 years old and above: 150 JPY, Elementary school students or younger: Free
2. Access to Hama-rikyu
This park is located in the city center, so it can be easily reached. After you get off at JR Shimbashi Station, you can get to the park on foot. Now, if you are already going to Hama-rikyu anyway, then you might want to try the recommended mode of transport to this park: the water bus. You can take the boat from Asakusa and Hinode Pier and then enter Hama-rikyu while leisurely gazing at the scenery in Tokyo.
Sample fare (Tokyo Cruise Ship): One-way, departing from Asakusa: 980 JPY for adults and 370 JPY for children (admission fee to Hama-rikyu is already included in the fare)
3. Highlights of Hama-rikyu
Otemon Bridge and the 300-year-old Pine Tree
If you enter from land, you can get inside this garden through two entry points: the Otemon Gate and the Naka no Gomon Gate. The recommended entrance is the Otemon Gate. It is the entrance that serves as the front gate of the castle, with the long and wide Otemon Bridge creating a beautiful vista. As soon as you pass the bridge, you will see this Japanese black pine tree called the “300-year-old pine tree” right next to you. The low protruding thick branches are impressive and look amazing, making this an excellent spot for taking photos.
The biggest highlight of Hama-rikyu is Shioiri no Ike (Seawater Tidal Pond), the sole seawater pond in the city. The water gate of this pond is opened and closed according to the water level at Tokyo Bay to adjust the volume of water that gets in and out. It is an elegant pond that changes in appearance and atmosphere depending on the tide. It is also known for its lush nature, with small fish, eels and other saltwater creatures living in it and seagulls dancing overhead. Further, the scenery that has the cluster of buildings on the background has led to this spot becoming one of the best photography spots in this area.
Another must-see spot in this garden is the Nakajima-no ochaya (Tea house for the Inner Island) that can be reached by crossing the bridge from Shioiri no Ike pond. It has long been a popular spot for enjoying the cool evening breeze and looking at the moon, and the silhouette of the tea house that is reflected on the surface of the water will make you feel its magic. The space inside this tea house is a rest area, where you can enjoy matcha green tea and Japanese sweets while marveling at the beautiful views in every season.
This is one of the few hills inside the garden. While it goes without saying that it is a beautiful sight that is meticulously tended and maintained, the view when you stand on this hill has been creating quite a buzz. It is famous for giving guests a panoramic view of the park, and sweeping views up to Tokyo Bay, the cluster of skyscrapers, and Tokyo Tower.
4. Free Garden Guide
Hama-rikyu offers guided garden tours in English at 11:00 am every Saturday and at 10:30 am every Monday. There is also a special guided tour where the guide will explain such stuff as the interior of the Matsu no Ochaya at 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm every Thursday. It will not be just a simple stroll, as you will get to walk through the garden while learning about its history and highlights.
※It is not available in August. This tour may also be suspended due to inclement weather and other factors. Check the official homepage for details.
5. Free Foreign Language Application
If you are visiting Hama-rikyu, you may want to download the "Tokyo Parks Navi", an application for exploring gardens and zoos. You can get detailed information at the guide spot inside the garden. Further, it comes with a guidance function, so you can more efficiently tour the park.
Applicable languages: Japanese, English, Chinese (Simplified/Traditional), Korean and French
What do you think of Hama-rikyu, a place that exquisitely fuses an old-fashioned garden with modern buildings? Try to visit this spot sometime.
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.
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