The garden at the Taishakuten really is beautiful. Even on an overcast days as when I visited, muddy pond and drooping leaves and all, it was still gorgeous. As you walk around the garden on the covered and elevated wooden walkways (without your shoes of course!), you’ll discover lots of little alcoves and hidden spots with statues and inscriptions to keep you occupied. I can only imagine the hundreds of years of labor invested in this garden by generations gardeners and architects!
The walled garden at the famous Taishakuten temple in Tokyo is one of my favorites in Japan. To enter you have to take you shoes off and follow the wooden walkways around the garden, there are plenty of hidden spots and little stops you can do to see the garden which seems to change in appearance depending on the angle you view it from.
My favorite part of the Taishakuten temple in Tokyo’s easternmost Shibamata district is the extensive traditional Japanese garden and buildings right next to the main temple building. You need to pay an entrance fee of 400 yen but it is worth all of it. The gardens are surrounded by a covered walkway, and some of the rooms of the temple buildings are open to inspection. There is even a tiny tea machine in one of the rooms if you want something hot or cold to accompany a short meditation on the beauty of Japanese garden tradition!
It is not often the Shinagawa Shrine looks this picture perfect – not only is it spruced up for the big annual festival or matsuri, it is also full of flowers in bloom right now, not least the giant and very colorful hydrangea (or Ajisai, 紫陽花). These large flowers are one of the most beloved flowers in Japan and the semi-official symbol of summer (in the same way that the cherry blossom flowers signals spring). Hydrangea is a species with a vast number of different flowers, some as small bushes, other as tall as trees. The flowers can be as small as your fist or larger than your head. The ajisai blooms as summer starts, but it is not the only flower at the shrine, there were even a few potted water lilies. More photos of the shrine and the festival to come!