Today I took a trip over to the east side of Tokyo to visit the Kiyosumi Gardens. The site of the garden dates back to an 18th century residence of a wealthy Edo (the previous name of Tokyo) businessman, but the current design dates to the late 19th century. The reason for my visit is that the funeral hall of Emperor Taisho (r. 1912-1926) was located here, until it was destroyed during the Second World War. The garden does presently house the Taisho Kinenkan (Taisho Memorial Hall), which is a 1953 reconstruction of the emperor's hall, but using the materials of his wife's funeral hall. In addition to my academic interest in the garden, it was also a lovely autumn day, and visiting the garden was a great excuse to go for a stroll in a beautiful park, escaping some of the bustle of Tokyo for more serene landscapes.
One of the many boulders at the site- gathered from all over the country to give the garden character.
Entering the garden!
Rocks and trees and water.
Me and the Taisho Kinenkan (Taisho Memorial Hall).
The park is known as a place to view not just the scenery, but also to see fish, turtles, and birds. The koi in the central pond were particularly huge, and both the fish and the birds were crazy for the little breadcrumbs that visitors were feeding them.
Koi. So creepy when they open their giant mouths.
Getting a little Hitchcock vibe from the birds swarming the breadcrumbs.
Taisho Kinenkan again.
The ginkgo leaves were particularly lovely.
A small stone pagoda in the garden.
I watched this little turtle for quite a while. He was chillin', floatin', and then sunning himself. So cute.
Such a relaxed way to spend the day. I am learning from the turtle about how to live better.
There was an area of stone Buddhist sculpture near the south end of the park, which was a nice surprise.
Oh, no big deal, just throw in some 16th and 17th century sculpture near the back (!).
Another garden view.
Crane! So elegant. I could also use some life lessons from this guy.
Move slowly, observe a lot, be serene, strike quickly and with purpose when catching fish.
One last view on the way out.
Next to Kiyosumi Gardens is Kiyosumi Park. While the garden was quite formal and full of people on afternoon dates, older folks taking photos, and families on day trips, the park was full of exuberant life- a toddler learning to walk, high schoolers practicing baton, families picnicking, people walking dogs and dogs barking at each other, people on bikes, kids playing ball. As the sun set between the gingko trees, it was a truly joyful sight.
Life being lived to the fullest.
Golden afternoon glow.