Hōkoku-ji(報国寺)

Hōkoku-ji is a small Zen temple in Kamakura, world-famous for its bamboo grove of more than 2000 Mōsō bamboos. It is also called Take-dera (Bamboo temple) for that reason.

The temple was founded in 1334, a time of turbulence and unrest in Japan. The Kamakura shogunate had just been defeated, and the first Ashikaga shogun Takauji established his rule in Kyoto. Takauji’s grandfather, Ashikaga Ietoki, ordered Zen priest Tengan Ekō to found Hōkoku-ji. Just as the famous garden designer and Zen priest Musō Kokushi, Tengan was a disciple of priest Mugaku Sogen, the founding priest of Engaku-ji in Kita-Kamakura.

This temple became the family temple of the Ashikaga clan as well as the Uesugi clan. Both families shared the power in Kamakura. In 1439, the temple became the scene of a family drama: Shogun Yoshinori attacked Kamakura to re-establish his power in the east. The Kamakura ruler, Ashikaga Mochiuji and his son Yoshihisa were forced to kill themselves to escape capture. Hōkoku-ji is the place the 13 year old Yoshihisa chose for the ritual suicide by disembowelment better known as Seppuku (切腹) or Harakiri (腹切り) .

After the Great Kanto Earthquake in 1923, most buildings had to be rebuilt – none of the original structures remain. Still, old stone lanterns, gorinto gravestones and the yagura tomb caves make the thousand year old past come alive.

There is a small tea house hidden away behind the cool bamboo grove. For 600 yen, visitors receive a bowl of powdered green tea and traditional Japanese sweets. The carefully maintained Zen garden behind the main hall is also a nice place to rest and take in the atmosphere.

Contents of the eBook:
  • Introduction
  • History of the temple
  • Stone Lanterns, gorinto and Buddha statues
  • Bamboo in the garden
  • Plants in the garden
  • The Zen garden
  • The Tea garden
  • Yagura


12 pages filled with all necessary information about the garden and packed with
47 excellent garden pictures
8MB

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Directions

How to get there
Take the bus 鎌23 from the Kamakura main station. After 6 stops (about 8 min), get off at the bus stop Jōmyō-ji (浄明寺). From the bus stop, walk a few meters back, cross the street and walk straight ahead until you get to the gate of Hōkoku-ji temple.

Opening Times
9am – 4pm

Admission
300 yen for the bamboo garden

Address
7-4, Jomyoji 2-chome, Kamakura, Kanagawa 248-0003

Hamarikyū Teien  (浜離宮恩賜庭園)

The Hamarikyū garden is a large strolling garden directly next to Tokyo bay. It was built by the shogun Tokugawa in the Edo period (1603-1868). The garden’s ponds are connected to the Tokyo bay so the water level of the ponds changed with the tide. Large parts of the garden were reed fields, and the southern garden was used by the Shogun’s family for falconry and duck hunting.

With the Meiji Restauration in 1868, the Tokugawa shogunate fell and the imperial family built a detached villa on the grounds of the garden. This is also where the garden’s name comes from – Hama (浜) means “beach”, “seashore”; and rikyū (離宮) means “detached palace”. Teien (庭園) is a word for “garden” or “park”.

The garden has meandering ponds interconnected by little streams. There is a tea house on the middle island (中島 – Nakashima) of the southern pond, a plum grove (visit in late February to March), a 300-year-old pine tree and a field of wildflowers (cosmea and rape flowers). It is a nice garden to take a long walk. Because the garden is large, you rarely meet other visitors.

A free audio guide in English is available at the ticket gates – it has several guided tours, but it also allows you to roam around freely and just gives you information when you come to an important part of the garden.

Contents:
  • Introduction
  • History
  • Buildings
  • Bridges
  • Mountains
  • Highlights
  • Flowers
  • Anikas Impressions
  • Around Hamarikyū garden


20 pages full of information about the Hamarikyū garden
38 pictures of the gardens

PDF 27MB

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Directions

How to get there
To get to Hamarikyu gardens, take the Yamanote line to Shinbashi (新橋駅) or the Oedo line to Shiodome(汐留駅)。Walk eastwards from there.
There is also the possibility to go by boat from Asakusa to the garden. But since the boat is quite low, often you don’t see more than the quay walls. The entrance fee to the garden is included in the fare.

Address
東京都中央区浜離宮庭園1-1
1-1 Hamarikyu Teien, Chuo, Tokyo

Telephone
03-3541-0200 ‎

Admission
300 Yen

Opening hours
9am – 5pm (last entry at 4:30pm)

Closed around New Year between December 29th and January 1st.

Kyōto Gosho (Kyoto Imperial Palace)  (京都御所)

The Imperial Palace in Kyoto has been the seat of the Emperor from the Heian period (794-1185) until the end of the Edo period (1603-1868). After the Edo period, the Tenno and his court moved to the Old Edo, which then became the official capital of Japan and changed its name to Tokyo – Capital of the East.

The palace and garden are within the old palace enclosure but were built much later, during the Edo period (1855). The style is loosely based on the Heian shinden-zukuri style, with large gravel courtyards and a small pond garden.

Access to the garden is only granted free of charge. Tours are held in Japanese, Chinese, and English. English tours are available at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. You can apply for them by visiting the Visitors Room on the right side of the entrance.

[Updated: 10/2018]

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eBook Coming Soon…

Directions

How to get there
From Kyoto station, take the Karasuma line to Marutamachi station (丸太町, 4 stops, 7 minutes). From there, enter the Kyoto-gyoen and go to the entrance of the Sentō-Gosho in the center of the park.

If you prefer to go by bus, take the city bus 205 and get off at the bus stop Furitsu-idaibyouin-mae (府立医大病院). The bus stop is to the east of the Kyoto-gyoen, enter the park and walk in a westwards direction.

Address
JP: 〒602-0881 京都府京都市,上京区京都御苑
EN: Kyoto Gyoen, Kamigyo-ku, Kyoto-shi 〒602-0881

Opening hours

September & March 9 a.m. – 3:50 p.m. (Last admission) 4:30 p.m. (Closing time)
October – February 9 a.m. – 3:20 p.m. (Last admission) 4 p.m. (Closing time)
April – August 9 a.m. – 4:20 p.m. (Last admission) 5 p.m. (Closing time)
Closed: Mondays (if Monday is a holiday, the palace will close on Tuesday instead.)
December 28 – January 4

Admission
Entrance is free.

Sentō Gosho (Sentō Imperial Palace)  (仙洞御所)

The Sentō Imperial Palace was built in 1630 as Emperor Go-Mizunoo’s retirement residence. Several fires have burnt down the buildings over the time, and the Sentō Imperial Palace was never reconstructed. The gardens stem from the year 1630, designed by the famous garden designer and tea master Kobori Enshu.

Since at that time in Japan all the military and political power was with the Shogunate, and not the Imperial Court, the nobility had time to study and appreciate traditional Japanese art forms like poetry, calligraphy and tea ceremony. So, emperor Gomizunoo was a highly educated man with refined taste and contributed considerably to the design of the villa and gardens.

The garden designer was Kobori Enshu (小堀 遠州), a tea master and artist. Together they designed the garden, which was originally divided by a wall into a North and a South section with two separate villas for the emperor and the empress.

The gardens are laid out around a large pond with several islands, six different bridges and paths that lead around it. There are also two tea houses in the garden.

Access to the garden is only granted to guided tours (free of charge). You can apply for a tour at the Imperial Household Agency Office in Kyoto (3 Kyoto-gyoen, Kamigyo-ku, Kyoto, 602-8611) or on their website: ttp://sankan.kunaicho.go.jp/english . Tours are held only in Japanese, but an English language audio guide is available.

This eBook is about the Ishi-doro, the Japanese stone lanterns in the garden.

Contents:

Introduction to Japanese stone lanterns
Brief history of the Sento Gosho gardens
Japanese stone lanterns along the garden paths:
Stone lantern – Ishi-dōrō (石燈篭)
Christian lanterns – Kirishitan-dōrō (キリシタン燈籠)
Snow-viewing lantern – Yukimi-dōrō (雪見燈籠)
Buried stone lanterns – Ikekomi-dōrō (活け込み燈籠)
Korean stone lanterns – Chōsen-dōrō (朝鮮燈籠)
Oribe stone lanterns (織部燈籠)

7 pages with
21 pictures about the stone lanterns of the Sentō Gosho garden.

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Directions

How to get there
From Kyoto station, take the Karasuma line to Marutamachi station (丸太町, 4 stops, 7 minutes). From there, enter the Kyoto-gyoen and go to the entrance of the Sentō-Gosho in the center of the park.

If you prefer to go by bus, take the city bus 205 and get off at the bus stop Furitsu-idaibyouin-mae (府立医大病院). The bus stop is to the east of the Kyoto-gyoen, enter the park and walk in a westwards direction.

Addess
JP: 〒602-0881 京都府京都市,上京区京都御苑
EN: Kyoto Gyoen, Kamigyo-ku, Kyoto-shi 〒602-0881

Admission
Entrance is free, but only granted to guided tours. See above for application.

Kairaku-en  (偕楽園)

Kairaku-en is a large strolling garden in Mito-Shi, Ibaraki-Ken. It was built by Tokugawa Nariaki in the year 1841 for the enjoyment of normal people of the area. The garden belongs to the Three Great Gardens of Japan. The best season to visit the garden is in early spring, when the plum trees start to bloom.

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Directions

How to get there
The garden belongs to Mito-city. From Ueno station in Tokyo, you can take the JR Hitachi line ‘Fresh Hitachi’ towards Katsuta or ‘Super Hitachi’ towards Iwaki (platform 16/17). After one hour and about 10 minutes, get off at Mito (水戸). From the station, walk two kilometers in western direction, take a taxi or the bus to get to Kairakuen.

Opening times
March-September: 6am – 7pm
October-February: 7am – 6pm

Admission
free (Kobutei 200 Yen)

Address
〒310-0912 水戸市見川1-1251偕楽園公園
Mito-shi Migawa 1-1251 Kairakuen-Koen

Tonogayato Teien  (殿ヶ谷戸庭園)

The Tonogayato Teien is a landscape garden, built between 1914 and 1916 (Taisho period) near Tokyo. It was built for the residence of the vice president of the Manchurian Railway company.In 1929, the estate was bought by a member of the Iwasaki family. Nowadays, the garden is enjoyed by young and mid-aged people, and you will probably be the only foreign visitor there.

There is a tea house on the premises that can be rented for tea ceremonies. The garden is a mixture of Japanese and European strolling garden. It is just 20 minutes by train from Shinjuku Station but feels very remote from everyday life in metropolitan Tokyo.

Contents:
Introduction
History
Buildings
The Gardens
Other Highlights
Anikas Impressions
Around Tonogayato Teien

15 pages full of information about the Tonogayato Garden
41 pictures of the gardens

PDF 20MB
mobi 25MB
The eBook is delivered as PDF and mobi.

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Tonogayato-teien Trailer
Watch the Tonogayato-teien trailer here.

RJG presents: Tonogayato-teien from Real Japanese Gardens on Vimeo.

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Directions

How to get there
From Shinjuku, take the Chuo line towards Kawaguchiko and get off at the fifth stop, Kokubunji (国分寺)。From there, it is only a short walk to the gardens.

Opening times
9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Last entry until 4:30 p.m.

Admission
150 Yen

Address
JP: 東京都国分寺市南町二丁目
Tokyo-to, Kokubunji-shi, Minami-cho, 2 chome

Tokyo National Museum  (東京国立博物館)

The garden of the Tokyo National Museum became the home for 5 historical buildings gathered from all over Japan.
There is a teahouse called Tengōan (転合庵) that was designed by the famous Japanese tea master Kobori Enshū (小堀遠州) in Kyoto. Another, Kujōkan (九条館) was disassembled and brought here from the Imperial Palace in Kyoto.

The teahouses can be rented for tea ceremonies and haiku gatherings.

The garden is open for visitors in November, the peak season of autumn foliage and in spring during cherry blossom. It is located on the north side of the Honkan Gallery.

Contents:
Introduction
History
The Teahouses
  Shunsōro
  Tengōan
  Rokusōan
  Ōkyokan
  Kujōkan
Other Highlights
  Five-storied pagoda
  Remains of the Jurin-in Azekura Storehouse
  The gravestones of the Arima clan
  The Porcelain Lantern
  The Iron Lantern
  Steles
Taking a walk with Anika
Around the Museum

13 pages full of information about the Tokyo National Museum
38 scenic pictures and descriptive illustrations

PDF 15MB
mobi 23MB

The eBook is delivered as PDF and mobi as a small present.

Tokyo National Museum Trailer
Watch the Tokyo National Museum trailer here.

RJG presents: The Tokyo National Museum from Real Japanese Gardens on Vimeo.

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Directions

How to get there
The National Museum is situated in the north part of Ueno park. The closest station is Ueno station, which is served by the Yamanote ring line and many other train lines.

Opening times
Open during the springtime cherry blossom and the autumn leaf-viewing seasons from
9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Admission
Admissin with general museum ticket: 600 Yen

Address
東京都台東区上野公園13-9 東京国立博物館
Tokyo-to, Taito-ku, Ueno-koen 13-9

Telephone
03-5777-8600