In the pursuit of a world of beauty, it is said that one daimyo garden sets the standard for comparison. Among other things, Rikugien is an example of a strolling, mountain and pond-style landscape garden , a garden for enjoying changes in scenery from not just one location, but also while walking along the garden paths. From all vantage points, the garden has been meticulously planned so that visitors can see a beautiful landscape. One feature of the garden is that, by placing waka, a poetic form unique to Japan, around the garden , poetry was built into the landscape itself. The gardens were built under the direction of Yanagisawa Yoshiyasu, a daimyo with deep literary knowledge, using Yanagisawa’s own design. Waka poems from the Manyoushu and Kokin Wakashu poetry collections were reproduced at 88 scenic location where the poems were once recited. As “The 88 Boundaries of Rikugien,” stone pillars were erected in each of the 88 scenic spots, of which 33 spots remain today. In the seven years it took to complete the garden, a pond was dug from a flat plot of land, mountains were built, and a river was made.
A Landscape for Every Season
All that effort can be appreciated even as we enjoy the scenery of each season: cherry blossoms in spring; azaleas in early summer; hydrangeas in the rainy season; changing leaves in autumn; plum blossoms and camellias in early spring. Rikugien is especially well-known for its azaleas. During the gardening boom of the Edo period, a large number of azaleas were planted, and this remains the case today. Even at nearby Komagome station, the azaleas bloom beautifully. During the Golden Week holidays in May, events such as the Azalea Festival are held, making Komagome famous as “The Town of Blossoming Azalea Flowers” It is said that people in the old days would take a little rest after a walk, and that it took a whole day to go around the gardens. With so many changes of scenery, visitors could imagine themselves to be taking trip around the whole country. After a stroll, why not take a break at Fukiage Tea House? Visitors can have a green tea and Japanese sweets set (510 yen), iced tea in the summer, amazake, a kind of warm, sweet Japanese sake, in winter (300 yen) and other refreshments. Alongside Mt. Fuji and The Golden Pavilion in Kyoto , Rikugien has been designated one of Japan’s Special Places of Scenic Beauty. To take in the scenery during a leisurely stroll in the garden--there’s no greater luxury than that.