Let's Go! Gardens of Japan Part II

Hello Japan!

Today, let's take a look at part II of our tour of the gardens of Japan. Last week we looked at the Rikugi-en Gardens in the NE section of Tokyo. Today, let's look at the inner gardens at Meiji Jingu, a Shinto shrine, an amazing temple complex in the heart of Tokyo, as well as some other shots around town.

Here is the massive gate which marks the entrance to the temple grounds. It's a good long walk in the woods along a gently sloping promenade to the temple, the gardens are on the way. Kikuchi told us the golden flowers on the gate are the symbols of Japan. Lots of groups of school children shared the walk with us, all so polite and smiling. Such a wonderful place.

 Hi David! Hi Kikuchi san!

 These are old sake barrels used as some kind of display along the path. Pretty cool, I think.

 The courtyard leading into the temple.

 School children lining up to buy good luck charms such as this:

This one is for no headache, I bought one for no car accidents!

Lovely offerings at the temple.

So off to the "inner gardens" - this is what the website says about this garden:

Meiji Jingu Gyoen (Meiji Jingu Gardens) is the only part of Naien (the Inner Precinct) that had existed long before the establishment of Meiji Jingu. In fact Emperor Meiji designed the iris garden, small paths, and fishing spot specifically for Empress Shoken in order to give her fresh energy. Fresh verdure in spring, various kinds of flowers in summer, autumn leaves, and snow in winter give inexhaustible charms to the garden all the year round.

This is the iris garden at the very lowest part of the garden, covered in netting - to protect it from critters, is what I remember. The whole area is surrounded by maple trees, it must be quite a treat to see in autumn. Very familiar foliage and plant types in Japan, so I felt right at home.

Speaking of critters, we spotted this guy in the forest. He is what's known as a tanuki - a Japanese raccoon dog - from Wiki: "As the tanuki, the animal has been significant in Japanese folklore since ancient times. The legendary tanuki is reputed to be mischievous and jolly, a master of disguise and shapeshifting, but somewhat gullible and absentminded. It is also a common theme in Japanese art, especially statuary."

In my last post I mentioned super tall azaleas. Here they are! This photo is by Kikuchi san. Thanks, Kikuchi!

Pretty amazing height on those azaleas. I wonder how long they have been there?

 At the end of a path we found this well.

 This ends our visit to the Meiji Jingu gardens, let's look at some shots around Tokyo of some interesting green things.

 A very oddly pruned ginko tree - there were a lot of these around. 

 A few more ginkos. Again, I sense these are very old and that's why they need such drastic pruning ??? Anyone?

 No idea what it says, but I think it relates to the growing things, don't you think? Plus it's cute.

 A typical Tokyo residential garden.

 In the Asakusa area of Tokyo at the Senso-Ji temple.

At the temple.

 The temple again.

Temple gardens. This was April so not everything was in full leaf yet.

 This is the beautiful gardens in the restaurant courtyard at the ANA International hotel where Kikuchi san treated David and I to a lovely traditional Japanese dinner. How's this for a view? Amazing. Those koi are at least 25 years old according to Kikuchi san.

 I will end today's tour with another small unknown shrine in the neighborhood our hotel was in. I love this guy, isn't his grin hilarious? Looks like my cat when he's been naughty.

This shrine is an example of many hundreds of small, intimate garden temples that must be dotted around the city of Tokyo. What a joy to stumble upon these treasures.

Next time we'll head out to Kyoto to visit two temples and a castle - all with amazing gardens, I hope you will join me!

Until next week, sayonara and thank you again to the wonderful Kikuchi san for his wonderful tours around Tokyo!


  1. I'm so jealous...I've always wanted to go to Japan! I'm so curious about the Ginko trees as well...that seems like such drastic pruning!

    1. I know, Scott - right? They were ALL like that and all over the city, some were huge so obviously very very old. By the time we left they were all in full leaf and quite lovely, but so strange! I hope you get a chance to go to Japan someday, it's a strange and wonderful place.

  2. fifi la fontaine11:24 AM PDT

    Wow, everything is so magical there--even the tanuki! I'll ask my dad if he has any clue about why those ginkos are pruned like that. Thanks for the tour!

    1. Thanks, Fifi! I'd love to know about those trees. Thanks for i.d.ing the tanuki a while back, that thing is so cool!

  3. Anonymous11:29 PM PDT

    Gingko street trees are always pruned like that in Tokyo, not sure why but you probably noticed that trees in general get a lot of pruning in Japanese gardens and on the street. Thanks for sharing your visit to Meiji Shrine -- I love that place!

    1. Thank you for the information, Portlandtreetour. We appreciate it! Yes, I did notice LOTS of pruning everywhere. The Meiji Shrine was something special, to be sure! The next Japan post in a couple of weeks will have more pruned things in Kyoto....another wonderful place. Thanks for commenting!

    2. Anonymous1:43 PM PST

      By the way, I pointed my sister to your post, and she translated your sign for me: "Let's treasure our greenery," which is a Japanese way of saying "Please don't damage/vandalize the greenery." Looking forward to your future posts on Japan.

    3. That's great, Julie - thank you for pointing your sister to my post. I am glad to know that, now about the sign! I will post another Japan entry this week most likely, so stay tuned! Thanks for reading! Tamara


Post a Comment

Thank you for your comments! I love hearing them, I will approve comments as soon as I can. Yay!

Popular Posts