Tokyobling's Blog

Hibiya Park in the Spring

Posted in Animals, Nature, Places by tokyobling on March 24, 2014

Although the Tokyo official sakura season is still not declared there are a few early bloomers here and there around the capital. I walked through Hibiya Park which is about as downtown as you can get in central Tokyo and found that spring was already coming along nicely probably a week or two earlier than the rest of the city. Cherry trees were blooming, lots of other flowers as well, and the wildlife was coming back to the ponds and wetlands in the park. I saw newts, lizards, turtles and even a couple of egrets hunting for food!

What today is Hibiya park started out as the private gardens of several different feudal lords. When the Emperor took control of the country in the 1860s, the old feudal lords were ordered to leave the capital and the area around Hibiya park was mostly abandoned. In 1871 the military moved in and placed barracks and gunpowder storage in the old gardens. The military eventually left and the government started planning a new kind of park in the location of the old parade grounds. Before the end of the century the new Japanese government had sent out hundreds of young scholars around the world to study hard and bring home the latest in all art and sciences, on of these men was Honda Seiroku who had studied landscaping in Germany and was placed on the design committee of one of the first western style parks in the country. Hibiya Park was officially declared open in 1903.

The park has seen quite a lot of the modern history of Japan, it has been the base of a military mutiny, riots and demonstrations, it has been turned into a refugee shelter and temporary burial ground after earthquakes and during the war all of the flower beds were turned over to growing potatoes and the metal in the park railing and statues were confiscated for military use. After the war some of the buildings were occupied by the US Navy as headquarters. Today it is surrounded by the head offices of several banks and newspapers as well as three government ministries. When people in Japan think about park, it is usually the Hibiya Park that comes to mind!

One of the more interesting buildings in the park is the old park management office built in 1910 in the German Bungalow style. Right next to it is a more recent restaurant building in a slightly similar manner.



















6 Responses

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  1. Hangaku Gozen said, on March 24, 2014 at 5:00 am

    The park’s design may have been based on European landscape architecture, but the pond and that “island” of pine trees in the second and third photos look very Japanese to me. Tokyo’s residents are very lucky to have such an oasis in the heart of their city.


    • tokyobling said, on March 26, 2014 at 1:04 am

      Indeed! The pond is the oldest part of the park. I love the natural look of it.


  2. C said, on March 25, 2014 at 4:02 am

    I didn’t know about all the scholars who roamed the world to bring back what they learned — that probably explains a lot of the mishmash of architecture I’ve seen, among other things. Interesting how this culture chooses to integrate Western concepts with their own traditions in a very unique manner. Kinda like a more complex, sophisticated version of Asian Fusion dining in the US 🙂


    • tokyobling said, on March 26, 2014 at 1:06 am

      Yes! And also, it was about self-protection. Japan realized that they had to adopt a lot of superficial looks and technology to remain independent. Apart from Thailand, Japan is one of the very few countries outside of Europe that were never “colonized”.


  3. Timi said, on March 29, 2014 at 7:32 pm

    Pretty and calm * – *, I wish over here would be some more wildlife as well (well be thankful what you’ve got..I’m happy for the trees and flowers :D)


    • tokyobling said, on March 31, 2014 at 12:47 am

      It is so rare to find wildlife in Tokyo… (^-^) We have to appreciate the little we got!


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