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September 25, 2005
Koishikawa Botanical Garden: Introduction
Filed in: Current Affairs, Japan, Photography

After being socked in by the weather yesterday, I ventured out today (Sunday) to find a place to take some pictures.

I was completely on my own today - so I pulled out my English Tokyo map and looked around on it for gardens - I picked the Koishikawa Botanical Garden - because it looked like it was a pretty good size and I thought it might have some indoor greenhouses in case the weather turned ugly.

I rode the train from the western suburbs of Kichijoji to Sugamo and took a cab to the gardens.


The cab dropped me off here - and the cabby explained that I could buy a ticket across the street - which I did. About $3...


This garden was begun back in the early Edo period by one of the shogunates (this is characteristic of many gardens here). In the late 1800's it was transferred (after the Meiji restoration) to the University of Tokyo - so it functions much like an arboretum for the U of T. It's over 40 acres - so in Tokyo terms it is huge.

Because of this academic association, it has a research flair to much of the area. As well, because it's an attachment to academia, they cannot likely afford the hordes of workers it would take to make this a formal garden, so, for the most part, this is a very natural setting - like most arboretums - and it contains most of the indigenous species of plants from all of Japan - there must be thousands and thousands of species of plants here.

If you look at the map above - the garden can be loosely partitioned into its upper and lower areas - they upper area is on a hill at higher elevation and contains a large variety of trees and other flora. The lower area is well downgrade of the upper area and is the more formal (and probably left over from the original shogunate design - it reminds me a bit of Hama Rikyu) garden area with cultivated shrubbery, ponds, and lawns.

This is going to take several posts - so I'll start with the entry and the beginning of the 'upper' area.


The entry path splits left and right - the left proceeds to the lower area of the park - and yes that's a banana tree on the right.


To the right is the path to the upper part of the garden - that looks like what I call Pampas Grass on the hillock to the right - it's another indigenous species of plant from Japan.


Cycad palms line the pathway up the hill - there is a plaque about botanical discoveries with this plant in the late 1800s here.


There weren't too many blossoms in this garden at this time of year - but the ones that were here were spectacular. I can tell that the fruit trees and cherry trees are awesome in the fall.


More palms line the top of the hill.


We call this a Chinese Fan Palm back home and it grows indoors - convinced that Japan is a tropical climate?


There must be some Saguaro and Date palms here as well - I just can't read the characters...


Backing the palm area is one of the research buildings.


Moving on from the research facility, there is this entry to an area made up primarily of fruit trees and cherry trees. This cherry hallway is definitely a spectacular view in the Spring.


To the right of the cherry trees are trellises of Wisteria and greenhouses where more research is done. I read somewhere that the greenhouses are open for a couple of hours during the week. They were closed off today.

I'm going to stop this post at this point - there's much more to come and I promise some really spectacular photos coming up. (To this point, it was pretty blustery - I'm thinking there were 40 mph gusts and a heavy overcast sky. I flash filled many of these photos to give them some life and I like the results so far given the conditions. But you know, we photographers chase the sun, so when it shows up we like to catch some rays. Ya'll come back now:) )...

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People Pulling

Great pictures. That walkway under the cherry trees looks fantastic! Glad the storm passed you by, too.

Fall colors are approaching apace. I'll get to the Arboretum one of these days, but laps? Um... NOT. It'll be a couple of weeks probably, I'm having some flooring installed starting the 1st and hitting the Olympic coast on the 7th. Busy, busy, busy...


Posted by: jlb at Sep 25, 2005 10:14:07 AM

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