The Gardens of the Imperial Palace, Tokyo, Honshu Island, Japan (2019)

The Gardens of the Imperial Palace, Tokyo, Honshu Island, Japan #1 – a main entrance to the Gardens directly west of Tokyo Station through the remains of Wadakuramon Gate (to the left of the moat)

The Gardens of the Imperial Palace, Tokyo, Honshu Island, Japan #1 – a main entrance to the Gardens directly west of Tokyo Station through the remains of Wadakuramon Gate (to the left of the moat)

 

We began one morning with a stroll through the public Gardens of the Imperial Palace in the center of downtown Tokyo, in the Marunouchi district, across from the Tokyo Station (main downtown train station) where our shuttle bus had dropped us off — our ship was anchored at the Harumi Passenger Terminal sever miles/kilometers southeast of the Imperial Palace.  We spent the rest of the afternoon in the Ginza district continuing to enjoy the architecture (our own extension to the Tokyo architecture walking tour of the day before [see our blog post, “Tokyo Architecture Walk, Honshu Island, Japan (2019)”]), having an excellent sushi luncheon, and shopping.

 

The Imperial Palace (former Edo Castle):  “The Imperial Palace has occupied the site of the former Edo Castle since 1868 [the Meiji Restoration].  Edo Castle was the home of the Tokugawa Shoguns and the seat of the feudal samurai government which ruled Japan from 1503 until 1867.  After the end of feudal rule in 1967, Edo Castle was vacated by the Shogun and transferred to the new Imperial Government.  The Emperor moved from Kyoto to Tokyo in 1869, after residing in Kyoto for over a millennium.  There has been a castle on this site since 1457, when a castle that occupied the site of the Honmaru, Ninomaru and Sannomaru areas was built by the samurai Ota Dokan.  From 1590 this castle was the home of Lord Tokugawa Ieyasu, who became the first Tokugawa Shogun in 1603.  The Honmaru area included the massive keep tower, and the palace of the Shogun.  Edo Castle was extended by the second and third Shoguns, Hidetada and Iemitsu, with work completed by 1660.  Most of the original castle buildings have been lost to fire.  The current Imperial Palace buildings were completed in 1968, in the Nishinomaru, which had been the palace of the retired shoguns during the Tokugawa shogunate.” – Kokyogaien National Garden Office, Ministry of the Environment (Japan)

 

The Gardens of the Imperial Palace, Tokyo, Honshu Island, Japan #2 -- this entrance to the Gardens is directly west of Tokyo Station with the Palace Hotel Tokyo and the Nippon Life Insurance Marunouchi Garden visible behind the fountains

The Gardens of the Imperial Palace, Tokyo, Honshu Island, Japan #2 — this entrance to the Gardens is directly west of Tokyo Station along Marunouchi 1st Street and goes past Wadakuramon Fountain Park (not pictured, on the left) with the Palace Hotel Tokyo and the Nippon Life Insurance (building and) Marunouchi Garden visible behind the fountains

 

The Gardens of the Imperial Palace, Tokyo, Honshu Island, Japan #3 – looking downtown from Wadakura Fountain Park in the Gardens at some of the nearby high rise office buildings downtown in the Marunouchi district

The Gardens of the Imperial Palace, Tokyo, Honshu Island, Japan #3 – looking downtown from Wadakura Fountain Park in the Gardens at some of the nearby high rise office buildings downtown in the Marunouchi district

 

The Gardens of the Imperial Palace, Tokyo, Honshu Island, Japan #4 – a more expansive view of some of the Marunouchi district high rise office buildings adjacent to the Imperial Gardens

The Gardens of the Imperial Palace, Tokyo, Honshu Island, Japan #4 – a more expansive view of some of the Marunouchi district high rise office buildings adjacent to the Imperial Gardens across from the Wadakuramon Gate and Wadakura Fountain Park

 

The Gardens of the Imperial Palace, Tokyo, Honshu Island, Japan #5 – as we strolled through the beautiful pine trees in the outer Gardens, we were struck by how calm and quiet it was in the Gardens

The Gardens of the Imperial Palace, Tokyo, Honshu Island, Japan #5 – as we strolled through the beautiful pine trees in the outer Gardens, we were struck by how calm and quiet it was in the Gardens – in complete contrast with our experience in many other major city parks (e.g., New York City’s Central Park, London’s Hyde Park, etc.); this was truly an “oasis” in the heart of the city (of 35.6 million people)

 

The Gardens of the Imperial Palace, Tokyo, Honshu Island, Japan #6 – the manicured lawn and carefully trimmed and maintained pine trees presented a spectacular screen in front of the Marunouchi district office buildings

The Gardens of the Imperial Palace, Tokyo, Honshu Island, Japan #6 – the manicured lawn and carefully trimmed and maintained pine trees presented a spectacular screen in front of the Marunouchi district office buildings

 

The Gardens of the Imperial Palace, Tokyo, Honshu Island, Japan #7 – the rebuilt (1968) Imperial Palace stands on a hill behind the Main Gate behind visible stone bridge and the (hidden) Nijubashi Bridge (a second, iron bridge)

The Gardens of the Imperial Palace, Tokyo, Honshu Island, Japan #7 – the rebuilt (1968) Imperial Palace stands on a hill behind the Main Gate behind visible stone bridge and the (hidden) Nijubashi Bridge (a second, iron bridge); this is one of the most popular portrayals of the Imperial Palace

 

The Main Gate and the Nijubashi Bridge:  This gate is the main, formal entrance to the Imperial Palace grounds.  It is used only when the Emperor leaves the Palace for important State occasions, for the official visits to the Palace by State guests, or when ambassadors present their credentials to the Emperor.  Ambassadors are given the choice of arriving at the Palace in a horse-drawn carriage.  The Main Gate to the Palace is open to the public on January 2nd and for the Emperor’s Birthday.  Visitors to the Palace entering through the Main Gate cross two bridges, the Main Gate Stone Bridge and the Main Gate Iron Bridge.  The Nujubashi Bridge refers to the Iron Bridge, not the two bridges.  During the Edo period (1603-1867), because of its height above the moat, the Nijubashi Bridge was a wooden bridge reinforced underneath with a further wooden bridge, hence the name.  The Palace buildings are hidden behind trees to the right of the Nijubashi Bridge… Special Historic Site Edo Castle Specified on May 30, 1963.

 

The Gardens of the Imperial Palace, Tokyo, Honshu Island, Japan #8 – more office buildings (with lots of communications antennas) are clustered across from the Imperial Gardens southeast corner’s former Imperial Castle moat

The Gardens of the Imperial Palace, Tokyo, Honshu Island, Japan #8 – more office buildings (with lots of communications antennas) are clustered across from the Imperial Gardens southeast corner’s former Imperial Castle moat (still filled with water, but with both pedestrian and vehicular bridges now)

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2019 by Richard C. Edwards. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan (2019)

Looking past the Kotojitoto Lantern across Kasumigaike Pond in the center of Kenrokuen Garden, considered to be one of the three great gardens of Japan in Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

Looking past the Kotojitoto Lantern across Kasumigaike Pond in the center of Kenrokuen Garden, considered to be one of the three great gardens of Japan in Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

 

Having thoroughly enjoyed our first visit to Kanazawa, Japan, on the north coast of Honshu Island (the island Tokyo is on), we were pleased that we had the opportunity for a return visit.  [See our 2017 posts: “Geisha District (Higashi-chaya-gai), Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan”, “Kanazawa Gardens, Honshu Island, Japan”, “Eat local: Sushi dinner (Kaiseki), Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan” and “Kanazawa shrines, Honshu Island, Japan”.]

Kanazawa (population 462,000) is a popular travel destination due to its preserved historical districts, world-class museums, Michelin-starred Japanese cuisine, and authentic teahouses.  Notwithstanding its popularity, the city has kept its intimate and welcoming personality.  Having escaped the ravages of World War II, the city kept several key historical attractions dating as far back as the Edo Period when it served as the seat of the Maeda Clan.  Our first stop was a return visit to the stunning Kenrokuen Garden adjacent to Kanazawa Castle Park in downtown Kanazawa.  On our way to a wonderful sushi lunch at Otomezushi in the Naga-machi neighborhood to the west, we walked by the innovative 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art and the museum and tea house (where they do a tea ceremony) at the Nomura Samurai House (which we toured on our previous visit to Kanazawa).  We concluded our walking tour in the afternoon with a very educational visit to the Kanawa Shinise Memorial Hall (museum) and a quick stop at the chocolate shop, Le Pon du Chocola Saint Nicholas — rare in Japan! — for some refreshments for the ride back to the port.

 

We came across this traditionally dressed woman taking part in a photography shoot in Kenrokuen Garden, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

We came across this traditionally dressed woman taking part in a photography shoot in Kenrokuen Garden, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

 

Kenrokuen Garden is considered to be one of the three great gardens of Japan.  Literally translated as “Garden of the Six Sublimities,” and rated as one of Japan’s top gardens, this Edo-period haven, built by the powerful Maeda clan in the 1600’s, takes its name from kenroku (combined six), referring to the six garden attributes needed to achieve perfection: seclusion, spaciousness, artificiality, antiquity, abundant water, and desirable views.  During the winter months, branches are suspended with ropes from a post at the center of each tree to form elegant conical shapes, protecting them from Kanazawa’s heavy snowfall.

 

The Omuro Pagoda resembles the pagoda in Kyoto’s Omuro Palace; Kenrokuen Garden, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

The Omuro Pagoda resembles the pagoda in Kyoto’s Omuro Palace; Kenrokuen Garden, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

 

One of several scenic flowing streams in Kenrokuen Garden, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

One of several scenic flowing streams in Kenrokuen Garden, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

 

A traditional lantern (contemporary outdoor light) in Kenrokuen Garden, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

A traditional lantern (contemporary outdoor light) in Kenrokuen Garden, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

 

Kenrokuen Garden, originally the outer garden of neighboring Kanazawa Castle, is located on the slope facing the castle.  The garden was developed in many stages over the centuries following its origins in the mid-1600s.  Over the years the pond was enlarged and some winding streams were added that harmonized with the garden.  The garden was opened to the public on May 7, 1874, when the domain system was abolished.  In the twentieth century, the garden was designated a National Site of Scenic Beauty and a National Site of Special Scenic Beauty.

 

This small house, “Uchihashitei”, was relocated to the Kenrokuen Garden from Renchitei Garden in 1874;p0 Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

This small house, “Uchihashitei”, was relocated to the Kenrokuen Garden from Renchitei Garden in 1874;p0 Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

 

Looking at Kasumigaike Pond from the western side of Kenrokuen Garden, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

Looking at Kasumigaike Pond from the western side of Kenrokuen Garden, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

 

The exterior walls of the Kanazawa Shinise Memorial Hall that houses a traditional medicine store called Nakaya Pharmacy, built after the 1579 store was donated to the City of Kanazawa by the descendents of the Kakaya family in 1987

The exterior walls of the Kanazawa Shinise Memorial Hall that houses a traditional medicine store called Nakaya Pharmacy, built after the 1579 store was donated to the City of Kanazawa by the descendents of the Kakaya family in 1987; Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

 

The Nakaya Pharmacy in the Kanazawa Shinise Memorial Hall is a two-story wooden structure spanning 427.21 square meters (xx square feet).  The first floor consists of a mise-no-ma (storefront), an oe-no-ma (lounge), a tea ceremony room, a guest room, a study, and a drawing room.  Note that only the samurai and upper-class merchants could afford to build homes this large with space to accommodate a tea ceremony room.  On the second floor are exhibition rooms with displays on traditional townspeople’s culture [see the following photographs].

 

Beautiful colored Kaga Temari “handballs” suspended vertically to illustrate the skills of local women in designing and creating the traditional girls’ handballs; Kanazawa Shinise Memorial Hall, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

Beautiful colored Kaga Temari “handballs” suspended vertically to illustrate the skills of local women in designing and creating the traditional girls’ handballs; Kanazawa Shinise Memorial Hall, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

 

The story of the Kaga Temari handballs as noted in the Kanazawa Shinise Memorial Hall, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan:  “Once upon a time, girls made their own handballs to play with.  In the Muromachi Period (~1336-1573), Temari handballs with expensive silk threads were popular, but only for girls of noble rank.  During the Edo Period (1603-1868), it finally spread to the masses with the progress of the cotton industry.  Girls must have competed with one another in trying to make new and beautiful designs.  In Kanazawa we have an old custom that a mother sends a handmade Temari to her daughter as an amulet for her upcoming nuptials.  Kaga Temari is now well known for its fine work and breathtaking design.

 

Large Kaga Temari “handballs” woven with silk threads on display at the Kanazawa Shinise Memorial Hall, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

Large Kaga Temari “handballs” woven with silk threads on display at the Kanazawa Shinise Memorial Hall, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

 

One room on the second floor in the exhibition space of Kanazawa Shinise Memorial Hall, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan, contained a large display of packages wrapped with “ceremonial paper cords”

One room on the second floor in the exhibition space of Kanazawa Shinise Memorial Hall, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan, contained a large display of packages wrapped with “ceremonial paper cords”, known in Japanese as mizuhiki-orikata

 

The story of “ceremonial paper cords”, known in Japanese as mizuhiki-orikata, as noted in the Kanazawa Shinise Memorial Hall, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan:  “We are in the habit of tying beautiful cords on gifts, mizuhiki, when we send engagement gifts.  In Japan, mizuhiki is a sign of happiness.  In Kanazawa, mizuhiki became a traditional craft.  Special designs of Kaga-mizuhiki are ume blossom, pine tree, crane, tortoise, and more from colorful cords.  Kaga-mizuhiki has become a valued traditional craft in Japan.”  The mizuhiki-orikata on display in the museum were created by a Kanazawa-based company, Tsuda-Mizuhiki-Orikata, over 100 years old, following the style established by the founder Soukichi Tsuda.  The company is now run by fourth and fifth generation family members in Kanazawa.

 

Close up #1 of “ceremonial paper cords”, known in Japanese as mizuhiki-orikata, in the exhibition space of Kanazawa Shinise Memorial Hall, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

Close up #1 of “ceremonial paper cords”, known in Japanese as mizuhiki-orikata, in the exhibition space of Kanazawa Shinise Memorial Hall, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

 

Close up #2 of “ceremonial paper cords”, known in Japanese as mizuhiki-orikata, in the exhibition space of Kanazawa Shinise Memorial Hall, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

Close up #2 of “ceremonial paper cords”, known in Japanese as mizuhiki-orikata, in the exhibition space of Kanazawa Shinise Memorial Hall, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

 

After our museum visit, we walked through the Naga-michi neighborhood with samurai residences from the 1600s (Edo period) that still evoke the lifestyle of the feudal period; Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

After our museum visit, we walked through the Naga-michi neighborhood with samurai residences from the 1600s (Edo period) that still evoke the lifestyle of the feudal period; Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan – the narrow alleys, earthen walls, and Nagaya-mon Gate all retain the appearance of ancient times

 

We came across three young women in traditional kimonos that were taking turns photographing each other on a bridge over a canal in the the Naga-michi neighborhood with samurai residences; Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

We came across three young women in traditional kimonos that were taking turns photographing each other on a bridge over a canal in the the Naga-michi neighborhood with samurai residences; Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

 

In keeping with the historical neighborhood, the city of Kanazawa did a terrific job building this washroom (WC, or bathroom-toilet) public facility to blend in with the samurai residences in the middle of the Naga-michi neighborhood; Kanazawa
In keeping with the historical neighborhood, the city of Kanazawa did a terrific job building this washroom (WC, or bathroom/toilet) public facility to blend in with the samurai residences in the middle of the Naga-michi neighborhood; Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan
Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2019 by Richard C. Edwards. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.