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Hama-rikyu Gardens in Tokyo

We had a three-day weekend to show some visitors around Tokyo and after a rain-drenched Sunday restricted us to indoor activities, we were keen to visit some of the beautiful green spaces of Tokyo on a warm and sunny day that would have passed for summer in the UK. With the Imperial Palace Gardens and Shinjuku Gyoen both closed on Mondays it seemed our plans might be foiled until we spotted Hama-rikyu Gardens in our guide book.

The walk from Shimbashi station showed us another side of Tokyo’s character, with modern developments served by major roads at ground level and multiple levels of elevated train tacks and walkways above. Our route to the garden at ground level required navigating around (or through) a big office building; on our return we climbed the stairs to the sky walkway at the first opportunity and found it to be very pleasant and much more direct.

Hama-rikyu is a beautiful example of a Japanese formal garden. It is large enough that you can spend a couple of hours of leisurely exploration, and while there are no modern refreshments available, there are a couple of opportunities to sample a traditional tea ceremony. I particularly liked the juxtaposition of the peaceful garden and quaint tea house against a backdrop of shiny skyscrapers. In mid-October there were a few hints of red and orange indicating that Autumn colours, or koyo, are on the way, but like the rest of the world, it has been a long hot summer in Tokyo and koyo will not be here until November. I expect Hama-rikyu to be even more spectacular when it arrives.