Wednesday, April 15, 2015

A Samurai's Garden

I had breakfast with this view every morning while I was in Tokyo.  This garden, in fact, became my secret sanctuary.  Its serenity calmed my nerves.  Its beauty reinforced the reason I came here:  To witness, first hand, Japanese culture and art.


Its history dates back to the early Edo period when a famous samurai lord, Kiyomusa Kato (1562-1611) bought the property and landscaped the grounds.  Subsequent owners continued to preserve the garden, ending with Yonetaro Otani in 1964.  He built a hotel here in anticipation of the thousands of visitors who were planning to fly to Tokyo for the Olympics.

Another famous owner of the garden was Naosuke Ii who was a Tairo or Chief Minister in the mid-1800's and credited for signing the first treaty of commerce with the United States, which ended 300 years of isolation.

As I edit my travel pictures, I realize I took more photographs of these pocket gardens in Tokyo than I did of the city streets.  These gardens are all over the city, although the one at the New Otani Hotel is one of the most famous.  Even if you don't stay here, a visit should definitely be a priority.

 I look down from my room on the 34th floor and spot little gardens all over the city--behind large apartment buildings and on roof tops.  There are also many gardens linking busy city streets.  They seem to serve as pedestrian short-cuts and I, too, begin to take them on a daily basis.  I meet mothers with strollers.  Old men with newspapers.  Students cramming for exams.  And then there are many people like me, who sit for awhile on a bench and daydream.  We nod at each other, acknowledging  the garden's beauty and our need to absorb its quiet strength.



  1. Much more pleasant than the Fugi Fiasco. For some reason now I equate snowy mountains with throwing up. ha!