I’m an old building lover and one of my favorite architects of the modern era is Josiah Condor (1852-1920), who designed several famous buildings in and around Tokyo, not least the well known Tokyo Station building. One of his less famous works, perhaps because of the untypical coloration, is the lovely city mansion at Kyufurukawa Gardens (旧古河庭園) built in 1917, in Tokyo’s northern Kita ward. I visited for the first time in the summer last year, even though I spent much of my first year in Tokyo right here in Kita ward and Ouji. If you’re into gardens, flowers and architecture, this is a great place to spend a sunny afternoon. Entrance is 150 yen and is a good final stop on day trip to the Ouji station area.
One sunny afternoon in April I went to see Asukayama Park in Tokyo’s northern Kita Ward. Opened in 1873 it ranks as the first public park in Japan. Emperor Meiji, who is largely responsible for the modernization of Japan decreed that the former gardens belonging to the Shogun would be made a park in the western manner. A very fitting move considering that the park originated as a cherry tree planting ground in 1720, giving Asukayama park some of the oldest and most developed cherry trees in the country. I should have taken some shots to compare as you can’t see it well, but the last photo shows the comparatively huge cherry blossoms of the trees in this park, quite unlike the cherry trees in other Tokyo parks.
When I visited I used the beautiful old tram line (one of the last running in central Tokyo), the Arakawa Toden to get there, an adventure in itself! The park is also easily accessible from JR Oji station or by Metro on the Namboku Line. From Oji station there is also a newly inaugurated cable car service to make it even easier to ascend the park which is located on top of a small mountain (this mountain holds the distinction of comming second in the battle for the title of the lowest mountain in Tokyo at about 26m. Useful info indeed for trivia buffs (incidentally the lowest mountain in Tokyo is Atagoyama in Minato Ward at just over 25m).
In April with the cherry blossoms in full bloom the park was full of people enjoying a day in the sun, and there was a botanical fair as well, selling beautiful Succulent plants (fat plants). I should have gotten more pictures!