A surviving daimyo garden of Edo in the metropolis
In the early part of the Edo Era in the year 1678, shogunate elder statesman Tadamoto Okubo set up a residence in the capital, and in 1686, a garden was built on the site which was the origin for Kyu Shiba Rikyu. The garden, originally called Rakuju-en, was a circuit-style garden centered around a pond and could be enjoyed for the changing vistas during a walk there. At the time, the garden was near the ocean, so the pond was created with seawater that was placed onto the reclaimed land. The garden incorporated a Chinese-style design that was considered iconic by the people of Edo and was praised for its exoticism; that design can be viewed even now. In modern times, the landscape has completely changed due to further reclamation from the sea and with the construction of tall buildings, but the vista of this Edo garden within the city has continued to be maintained and preserved which has led it to be recognized as a Place of Scenic Beauty for its splendid appearance under the Law for the Protection of Cultural Properties.
Enjoying a walk through the garden
The highlights of Kyu Shiba Rikyu are the garden objets d’art with their own distinct characteristics. The pond was inspired by Lake Seiko in China, and there is the Chinese-style Seiko-no-Tsutsumi along with the Japanesque stone lantern. The garden also incorporates stones of various sizes and shapes to create an arrangement that roughly represents natural features such as a waterfall and mountains. The floating islands in the pond are inhabited by wild birds which bring a peaceful atmosphere. As for the flora, beautiful Japanese black pine has been planted everywhere to provide greenery throughout the year while seasonal flowers add color and change. There are cherries and wisteria in the spring, lotus and iris in the pond during the summer, the changing leaves in the autumn and peonies in the winter whose seasonal scenery can be enjoyed. Currently, the pond doesn’t use seawater but is filled with freshwater so that koi can swim in it. Unlike in the Edo Era, you can now enjoy the scenery of the waterside.