Finding Beauty with Imperfection

Category: Koishikawa Korakuen Gardens

Koishikawa Kōrakuen Gardens – Spring Sakura

I started out my day helping Dave get to the airport for a quick and unexpected trip to Sasebo. Since I was already on the way to Tokyo, I decided to visit a couple spots known for Sakura blossoms. The first place I went was Ueno Park. Of the various articles I read about where to view Sakura, Ueno Park was always listed in the top five. I should have anticipated the crowds based on the volume of train passengers. Honestly, I never imagined there would be so many people! This was the crowd just to leave the train station.

It wasn’t hard to find the Sakura with a large crowd to follow. The good thing was there was a large area to walk. The walk could accommodate the large crowd.

I walked down the main strip and couldn’t get over how many people where there to see the Sakura. I also couldn’t believe how many foreigners were visiting. I realize I am also a foreigner, but I’m not accustomed to seeing too many others. I was overwhelmed with all the English conversations! However, I’m pretty sure those here to Hanami were locals. Check out their spreads.

Within 45 minutes of my arrival, I was ready to find a Sakura spot off the beaten path. The crowd at Ueno Park was just too much for me. My next stop of the day was at one of my favorite Tokyo gardens, Koishikawa Kōrakuen. This garden is on my wabi-sabi list and continues to appear on “best of Tokyo” list. I’ve visited this park in the summer and fall and during both seasons, the park was beautiful. I was looking forward to seeing the Park blossoming in the spring. I wasn’t disappointed. The Sakura was beautiful and the quiet park serene. It was just what I needed to restore my zen after the crowds at Ueno. As I wandered the path, I had fun taking pictures of this Sakura tree from different angles.

There were definitely more people at the garden compared to my last visit. Nonetheless, I was able to capture pictures of nature’s beauty and solitude.

I took a panoramic photo from the top of the hill. What the Sakura perhaps lacked in numbers, they made up for in beauty.

I continued walking through the garden. The light gave me a faint shadow at the moon bridge.

The path winds around the pond. It provides a peaceful and meditative walk.

Eventually, I made my way back to the entrance of the park. Here I could view the Sakura up close.

I think today Team Blush was the winner.

The one Team Pink tree wasn’t quite in full bloom.

I’ll be honest, the beautiful weather this Sakura season makes me feel like I won the lottery. It truly is a gorgeous time of year.

Koishikawa Korakuen Gardens – Fall Edition

I went to visit the Koishikawa Korakuen Gardens in June. This garden made the list of five gardens to experience wabi-sabi in Japan. I recently read an article published on, identifying eight places to visit in and around Tokyo to see beautiful Autumn foliage. To my surprise and joy, Koishikawa Korakuen Gardens was listed in the article! I took that as a sign to go and visit the garden again! It was beautiful. I arrived around lunchtime and enjoyed a tuna onigiri with green tea while sitting on a bench in the shade enjoying this view. 

After my lunch, I took a stroll around the garden. So much fall color! 

Up close, the vermilion bridge stood out in the still very green tree undergrowth. 

From further away, the bridge was almost swallowed in the upper layer of slowly changing leaves. 

The view across the pond might have been my favorite. Just to be clear, those are Japanese maple leaves. ???

From the other side of the pond, the view was lovely as well. The pond was so still.  

Part of the reason I love this Garden is the serenity it provides in the middle of Tokyo. The other reason is the beautiful plants, ponds, and paths. It’s a perfect spot to enjoy a picnic lunch followed by an afternoon stroll. What do you think about my new exploring shoes? Kawaii! 

Perhaps, this will become the Garden I stalk and visit at some point each season! My attempt to capture its year round beauty. 

Koishikawa Kōrakuen Garden

My third Wabi-Sabi garden in Tokyo was a visit to the Koishikawa Kōrakuen Garden. I stopped to visit this garden after my visit to the Hakusan Shrine on Friday. Of the three gardens on the list of five that I have visited, this one was my favorite. To start, when I paid my ¥300 entrance fee, the worker offered me a garden map in French first, then English! I was so excited not to be assumed American. Obviously, no one assumes I’m Japanese but, when I’m assumed something besides American, I get a little excited.

The garden was a cool oasis after my walk in the summer sun. I found a shady corner when I arrived and sat for a few minutes to cool down, enjoy the view, and read about the park. The large white thing in the background is the Tokyo Dome. The Tokyo Dome is an indoor stadium. Dave and I will attend a baseball game there between the Yomiuri Giants and the Yokohama Baystars at the end of July.

Did you notice the roller coaster? That’s is Thunder Dolphin at Tokyo Dome City assumement park. Thunder Dolphin is 260 feet high and the 8th tallest continuous circuit roller coaster in the world. Who is going to ride that one with me!?!

In the meantime, let’s return to the garden. It has a circular path through the garden with manmade hills and ponds. The largest pond is the center focal point. A majority of the path around the garden was a stone walkway. It made the setting even more beautiful.

The smaller pond at the back of the garden had two small bridges. The city buildings in the background created the perfect wabi-sabi contrast.

I was fortunate to visit this time of the year. The garden had a large area of irises blooming. So many different colors! And I love seeing the Thunder Dolphin in the background!

There was also a small hill that led to an Ume grove (plum trees). The brochure said these bloom in early February. I will need to return!

Another highlight of the garden was the Engetsu-kyo (Full Moon Bridge). When the reflection of the bridge is visible in the water, it creates an illusion of a full moon. Unfortunately, the light wasn’t in my favor today. It was still very beautiful and serene.

In the garden there are also wisteria trellises and a 60 year old weeping cherry. This garden has moved onto the “Julia Tour” when we are in the Bunkyo area of Tokyo. Depending on when you visit, we will see either beautiful fall foliage or happy spring flowers!

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