The Garden Guide

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

Kama Rikyu Imperial Garden

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KAMA RIKIU GARDEN. This is another of the Imperial gardens of the capital taken over from the Shogunate at the time of the Restoration. It occupies a site which, until the middle of the seventeenth century, was merely a marshy level, fifty acres in area, overgrown with reeds and rushes, and used as a hawking ground by the Shogun. lyetsuna presented the land to one of his relatives, who converted it into a garden, and furnished it with suitable buildings. It became an occasional summer resort for the Regent and his Court, its position, on the shore of Tokio Bay, rendering it a cool and refreshing retreat, and obtaining for it the name of Hama Goten, or the Palace on the Coast. Records dating from the year 1708 mention the following garden structures: "Island Tea-house," "Ocean Tea-house," "Bubbling-spring Teahouse," "Shrine of Kwannon," "Shrine of Koshin* (Kwannon and Koshin are both popular deities, shrines dedicated to whom exist all over Japan.)," and "Bridge of the Front Gate." An extensive conflagration in the year 1725 destroyed the buildings and damaged the grounds, which were remodelled under the Shogun Iyenari, at the end of the eighteenth century. The principal detached pavilions then erected were: the "Swallow Teahouse," "Pine-tree Tea-house," "Thatched Tea-house," "Pine-grove Arbour," "Hut of the Salt-coast," "Arbour of the Royal Mountain," "Arbour of the Fifth Moat," and "Azuma Arbour"�Azuma being an ancient name for Japan. Just before the Restoration, in 1867, the estate passed into the hands of the Ministry of Marine, and in the following year was transferred to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and used for entertaining foreign visitors of distinction. Eventually the Imperial Household Department took possession of the site, when the name was slightly changed to Hama Rikiu, or Detached Palace of the Coast, the term Rikiu being applied to all the secondary palaces or Imperial villas. Meanwhile, the garden had become much out of repair, only a few of the ornamental arbours remaining.