Tokyo Diaries – Hamarikyu & Shiodome

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“Every time I think of you, the leaves will turn red.”
We’re just at the tail end of Koyo season here in Tokyo, but today’s perfect weather seemed like a good excuse to visit one of the last major public gardens in Tokyo I’d yet to see.  That’s Hamarikyu, formerly the Tokugawa Shogunate’s duck hunting and falconry estate.  It’s a bit different from most major Tokyo gardens in just how intimate it is with the surrounding skyscrapers, and in that the ponds are connected to Tokyo Bay and thus, their level rises and falls with the tides.

Given how much I love the way old and new juxtapose themselves in Tokyo, Hamarikyu had me at “Hello”.  Nestled behind Shiodome’s maze of skyscrapers and shopping malls (which are themselves nestled behind the bustle of Shimbashi) it’s almost hard to believe Hamarikyu could be hiding back there.  But it is, and it’s a lovely place – between the Kanto earthquake and the bombings very few of the older buildings and bridges survive, but the garden itself is timeless.

Among the highlights are this 300 year-old pine tree (305 now, actually) and several teahouses.  Hamarikyu also offers fine views of Rainbow Bridge (it’s also a stop on the Waterbus line) and Kachidoki Bridge.  As well, it has a thriving population of cats, and this fellow was especially friendly.  After stopping for a chat, he ambled up to the top of this hill where a young couple were seated and promptly sat himself on the lap of the husband and started kneading like mad (cat people will understand what that means).  He was fine with it, but his wife (or girlfriend) must not be a cat person, because she pretty much freaked out.

After dinner I checked out the Christmas illumination at the Caretta shopping mall in Shiodome.  Tokyo Midtown’s is still the best I’ve seen, but this was pretty good.

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  1. P

    I always enjoy your posts about Japan. It brings a dimension to the country some of may not see.

  2. Thank you! That's what I try and do.

  3. e

    'He was fine with it, but his wife (or girlfriend) must not be a cat person, because she pretty much freaked out.' My Bad Romance End antennae are rising. That's some round cat btw *_* *pets*

    Good pictures, as usual. And who can resist the beauty of Fall leaves' colour palette…

  4. I have to say, that woman definitely rubbed me the wrong way. The guy just calmly started scratching the cat's neck, but she shrunk away and started screeching "Kitana!" (Dirty!). Probably one of those Tokyo women who wears high heels in the snow and carries a tiny dog in her purse.

  5. e

    I had a feeling Enzo…
    The poor tiny dogs. Just don't tell the snow bit to Sailor Mars and her scarlet stilettoes *once upon a time in the old anime she was trudging among ice and wind at the North Pole… * <— you're bringing me to re-evaluate that otherwise serious scene in a new light.
    More seriously a) unless one is letally allergic why shrink away from cats (!)
    b) lap-kneading your SO? And getting neck ministrations (for starters) in return? Take a clue from the feline master race I say 8D.

  6. H

    That cat does appear to be a bit dirty. The potential threat of fleas are worth screeching about.

  7. e

    I grew up with both farm cats and farm dogs so my pet dirtiness scale might be a tad more loose than average (and even so cats>>>>dogs when it comes to hygiene). That cat looks fairly clean – just some ground spots on his hind legs but hey the guy is outdoors in a park. In Fall :p. Even cats indoors can get sorta brown paws (and humans too when they're around the house barefoot unless you were to wash the floor every day and more times a day …) – and in good health to me :p.
    I'd be much more weary of thick plush carpets in restrooms and hotel rooms honestly. And remote buttons. Light switches. Laptop keyboards…

  8. There's no defending her – she's just an idiot.

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