Koishikawa Botanical Garden (小石川植物園)

A garden for every season

A German version of this posting you can find here.
Eine deutsche Version dieses Artikels finden Sie hier.

Koishikawa Botanischer Garten (小石川植物園)

Koishikawa Botanical Garden (小石川植物園)

There is hardly another garden than this one in Tōkyō that is so often being mixed up with a garden with a similar-sounding name. Many confuse it with the rather famous “Koishikawa Kōrakuen” and by doing so neglect the “Koishikawa Shokubutsuen” (shokubutsuen = botanical garden). Without the intention of doing the “Koishikawa Kōrakuen” (小石川後楽園 / こいしかわこうらくえん) injustice (it actually is one of the most beautiful Edo-style gardens in Tōkyō): The Koishikawa Botanical Garden ( 小石川植物園 / こいしかわしょくぶつえん) is not only larger by far, it is also provides a much more diversified aspect of horticulture. Both gardens’ names start with “Koishikawa”, because they, even though about 1,300 metres apart from each other, are located in a part of Tōkyō’s Bunkyō-ward (文京区 / ぶんきょうく) that used to bear (and partially still does) this name.

The Koishikawa Botanical Garden has, like its “namesake”, its roots with a member of the Tokugawa clan (yes, you’re absolutely right, those were the guys that held the political and military power over Japan for almost 300 years). To be precise: It was the fifth of the Tokugawa shōguns, Tokugawa Tsunayoshi (徳川 綱吉 / とくがわ つなよし) who had one of his secondary residences here. Some sources report that it was in the year 1684 when he had a herb garden planted here. Other sources claim that it was the eighth shōgun, Tokugawa Yoshimune ( 徳川 吉宗 / とくがわ よしむね) who was the initiator of the herb garden (in the first half of the 18th century), after he had taken over the estate, that had been neglected after Tsunayoshi’s death. In any case, since Yoshimune’s days the garden has its remarkable almost rectangular dimensions: 800 metre long and 200 metres wide (oh, I see, you are a smart mathematician – and you are right: the garden is a bit more than 160,000 sqm large – by the way 2 1/2 times as large as its “namesake”).

The Koishikawa Botanical Garden in spring:

Please click one of the miniatures in the mosaic above to start a slide show in screen size.

Already during the days of the Tokukawa shōguns there was a facility to provide medical treatment to those citizens who couldn’t afford it otherwise (it used to be at the area around the well in the upper part of the garden – even in 1923, after the great earthquake, it was here, were people found refuge and fresh water). But the ultimate fame of this garden came from the studies of pharmaceutical plants and agricultural crop. Thanks to the studies here, the most popular sweet potato (that originally was only cultivated in the warmer parts of Japan in the south and the west – mainly on Kyūshū) can now be harvested in most of Japan’s regions.

The Meiji Restoration did not only put an end to the government of the Tokugawa shōguns, with it also came the shut-down of the medical ambulance of the Koishikawa Botanical Garden, as it was integrated into the medical school of the city – which, eventually, turned into the medical faculty of the renowned Tōkyō University (Tōkyō Daigaku / 東京大学 / とうきょうだいがく, short and sweet: “Tōdai”). And since the foundation of the university in 1877 the Koishikawa Botanical Garden has been part of it. Its official name is, therefore, just a tiny bit complicated and slightly unpronounceabel. Nevertheless, for the sake of completeness (or maybe just to give a daunting expample) it shall not go untold:

Tōkyō daigaku daigakuin rigakukei kenkyūka fuzoku shokubutsuen (東京大学大学院理学系研究科附属植物園 / とうきょうだいがくだがくいんりがくけいけんきゅうかふぞくしょくぶつえん).

The Koishikawa Botanical Garden in late summer:

Please click one of the miniatures in the mosaic above to start a slide show in screen size.

Aside from the botanical compound in the upper part of the garden, there is also a rather large Japanese style landscape garden with the decorative building of the late medical school in the lower part of the it that alone would be worth a visit to the Koishikawa Botanical Garden. During the cherry blossom season the large cherry tree grove with age old trees in the upper section is very popular (but usually not as crowded as the parks of Ueno or Shinjuku, just to name two examples).
And should you feel you’ve seen enough of concrete and steel in the rest of the city for a while, you’ll be thrilled by the arboreous north-eastern part of the garden. Some trees here and in other parts of the Koishikawa Botanical Garden date back to the early days of the shōguns and are about 300 years old. You’ll feel so young next to them… I sure did!

And if you know a little about Japanese gardens and parks, you won’t be surprised to see that there is simply no “uninteresting season” at the Koishikawa Botanical Garden, because there are always some plants that are either blossoming of “dressed” in fancy colours or simply interesting from a botanical point of view. Should you seek tropical splendour during the cold months of winter, why don’t you go and have a look at the green houses there?

The Koishikawa Botanical Garten in autumn:

Please click one of the miniatures in the mosaic above to start a slide show in screen size.


3-7-1 Hakusan
Tōkyō 112-0001

How to get there:

Take the Tōkyō Metro Marunouchi line (東京メトロ・丸ノ内線) to Myōgadani station (茗荷谷 / みょうがだに), at the exit turn right (in south-eastern direction) and follow the Kasuga Dōri (春日通り / かすがどおり) until you reach the gorgeous cheery tree alley, Harimazaka (播磨坂 / はりまざか), which you take for turning left (in north-eastern direction). This Harimazaka is particularly popular during the cherry blossom season; it ends at the crossing “Shokubutsuenmae” (植物園前 / しょくぶつえんまえ)  from there it’s just a few steps to the main entrance  (正門 / せいもん) at the south-east corner of the Koishikawa Botanical Garden.

Opening Hours:

Open daily, except Monday (should Monday be a public holiday, the garden remains closed on Tuesday instead) from 9 am to 6.30 pm (last entry: 4 pm).
Closed during the New Year holidays (December 29th to January 3rd).

Admission Fee:

Adults: 400 Yen
Children (from Elementary School): 130 Yen

Please observe: Admission tickets are now to be bought at the main gate directly (not any longer at the “Foods Shop Yoneda” opposite of the main entrance to the garden).


2 Responses to Koishikawa Botanical Garden (小石川植物園)

  1. […] englische Version dieses Artikels finden Sie hier. An English version of this posting you can […]

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