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Hama Rikyu (浜離宮, Hama Rikyū), is a large, attractive landscape garden in central Tokyo. Located alongside Tokyo Bay, Hama Rikyu features seawater ponds which change level with the tides, and a teahouse on an island where visitors can rest and enjoy the scenery. The traditionally styled garden stands in stark contrast to the skyscrapers of the adjacent Shiodome district.
The garden has served many purposes over the centuries. It was originally built as a feudal lord’s Tokyo residence and duck hunting grounds during the Edo Period (1603-1867), but later served as a strolling garden and as an imperial detached palace before eventually being opened to the public in its current form. Vestiges of these old roles are still visible throughout the garden including several reconstructed duck hunting blinds, and the remains of an old moat and reconstructed rock wall.
Hama Rikyu is attractive in any season. Although not as famous for its fall foliage as some of the other gardens around Tokyo, it offers plenty of maple, ginkgo and other trees that show their beautiful autumn colors between late November and early December.
Late February brings plum blossoms, while the spring cherry blossom season from late March to early April is also nice but somewhat subdued compared to other hanami spots in the city. Several other species of flowers bloom in spring including fields of peony and canola blossoms.
An excellent, free English audio guide is available at Hama Rikyu which includes several self-guided walking courses through the garden. The courses vary in length from 60-90 minutes and use pictures and video to explain the various historical spots, flowers and trees that you can see along the way. The electronic guide is available at the Otemon and Nakanogomon Gate entrances.
How To Go To Hama Rikyu
Hama Rikyu is a 10-15 minute walk from JR Shimbashi Station or a 5-10 minute walk from Shiodome Station on the Oedo Subway Line and the Yurikamome elevated train.
Hama Rikyu can also be accessed from Asakusa by Tokyo Water Bus (35 minutes, 740 yen one way, admission to the garden has to be paid separately), but note that the water buses do not stop at Hama Rikyu in the opposite direction. A small detour via Hinode Pier is required to travel from Hama Rikyu to Asakusa (45 minutes, 740 yen one way).