The Garden Guide

Book: Landscape Gardening in Japan, 1912
Chapter: Chapter1. History

Daimio gardens in Tokyo

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Of the Daimios' gardens above enumerated, the Koraku-En,�now a part of the enclosure of the Koishikawa Arsenal,�is the best preserved. The Mukusa-no Sono forms a portion of the extensive park belonging to Baron Iwasaki, a Komagome, but it is much changed and extended, covering at present an area of about a hundred acres. A fine entrance gate, with lodge in the old Japanese style opens on to a wide gravelled drive leading up to the residence, past a grove of cherry trees and evergreens. The garden proper is divided from the outer approach by a rustic fence and gateway. The area immediately facing the principal rooms is partly occupied by a large lake of irregular, serpentine shape, having a picturesque island adorned with fine trees and a handsome rockery. This is reached by a rustic bridge built of faggots and covered with earth. Another similar bridge crosses the narrower end of the lake, close to which a magnificent leaning pine tree spreads its branches over the water. Some gigantic old pines of rare and picturesque shapes, with their extended branches supported on props, adorn the lawn around the lake. A handsome granite standard-lantern about fifteen feet high, having a shaft about thirty inches in diameter, forms a striking feature of the foreground. Scattered here and there on the edge of the water are a few fine rocks and stones with bushes and evergreen shrubs. On the further side opposite the house, is an eminence planted with azaleas, pine trees, camellia bushes and variegated bamboos, having a stepped pathway leading to the plateau which form the summit, and from which an extensive view of the garden can be had. Here placed a stone said to have been used in ancient times by one of the Shogun. Other parts of these extensive grounds are laid out with plantations of cryptomeria spruce, and pine, and groves of blossoming trees and shrubs, such as plum, cherry peach, quince, pyrus, lespedeza, and kerria. In one spot may be seen a rustic tea-house fitted up in exact imitation of the hostelry of a country road. Another picturesque summer-house is placed on the side of the lake. Forming an important feature of these grounds, in common with the parks of most Japanese gentlemen, is large decoy pond entirely surrounded by thick trees. This garden also boasts the modern additions of a model farm, and orchards of native and foreign fruit trees.