An Evening in Tokyo's Rikugien Garden Illumination (GALLERY)

An Evening in Tokyo's Rikugien Garden Illumination (GALLERY)

Justifiable Stereotype (a good one)

A massively monocultural society and a history of isolationism makes Japan exceedingly fertile ground for stereotypes true, exaggerated, and wholly incorrect. For examples, Japanese people are polite, Japanese people are clean, and Japanese people embrace a group-oriented mindset in almost all public affairs. Yes, those are broadly accurate, but sizeable exceptions aren’t difficult to find.

There is one stereotype, however, that is so entirely true, accurate, correct, and undebatable that ‘stereotype’ is hardly the right word. It is this: Japanese people absolutely love parks and are very good at building them. One might think that the world’s largest city wouldn’t have a whole lot of space for such, but one would be totally wrong.

Tokyo has no fewer than 50 huge city parks, and the entire metro area is dotted with quaint little oases of benches, trails along manicured flora, the occasional drunken fishermen (Nakano Grandpa Park), all-weather exercise equipment, and jungle gyms that would send sissified, Purel-obsessed American parents into fits of spasticated litigation. So the thing is, Tokyo, and Japan as a whole, has a lot of parks, and most of them are great.

Rikugien Garden Holiday Illumination

One of Tokyo’s greatest parks is Bunkyo Ward’s 312-year-old Rikugien Garden (WIKI), a very traditional, stay-on-the-trail, Japanese-style strolling and viewing affair (MAP). The park is kept beautiful year-round, but for about 20 days in the fall, as the leaves turn a variety of reds, oranges, and yellows in contrast with the evergreens, a sprinkling of strategically placed lighting transforms Rikugien: when the sun goes down, nature itself provides the holiday colors.

Rikugien Garden has a well deserved reputation for being so beautifully absorbing that one loses track of time and almost forgets about the seethe of humanity just outside. Our two hours to take everything in and bring it back to the internet vanished surprisingly fast, and the ¥300 ($2.80) entry fee, the risk of muddying your shoes, and navigating the crowds in this hugely popular spot were far beyond worth it.

Rikugien Garden: Lovely Huge Park in the Middle of a Lovely Huge City


Kind of a disclaimer: night photography at Rikugien Garden is notoriously difficult. The widely capable Sony RX100, a fine camera, produced the 28 images in this set, but the combination of it being not entirely up to the task plus some ham-fisted shooting resulted in...well, let’s just say that Senior Contributor Nayalan CameraNerd might scoff, but we think readers will enjoy! Samples below, and the gallery links follow:

Local Gallery

High-Res at flickr

SCENE IN TOKYO: Shiodome Caretta Choreographed Illumination
Tokyo Midtown Illumination Animation: Japan is Good at This (VIDEO)
Christmas in Japan