When I went to Rikugien last month that wasn’t the only place I went to in Komagome as another garden of note in the vicinity is Kyu-Furukawa. As it was a lovely Spring morning I decided to walk from garden to garden taking in a few of the sights in between and near to the two places. I arrived on the JR Yamanote line but should you arrive by Metro then exit 2 on the Namboku Line is right next to Rikugien. Armed with my copy of ‘Tokyo Adventures: Glimpses Of The City In Bygone Eras‘ by Tae Moriyama* my adventure started just after 9am at Rikugien (below) gardens and you can read all about that part in more details here.
There wasn’t too much to view on the return journey between those gardens and the JR station apart from a tie-dyed shop and the sakura trees just outside the station.
Just beyond the station on the other side is Somei-Yoshino-Sakura memorial park (below) which is a typical Japanese concrete area of no particular note but with the sakura on the trees it was particularly nice when I was there.
As you continue up the road you’ll come across a small shrine on your right (in the foreground of a stamp shop) and a Family Mart convenience store (below) on your left which you may not think is too exciting but I was quite surprised to see a few seats outside which rare in a city where there really is a lack of public seating around.
It’s a short walk up the main road from there to Shimofuri pedestrian shopping street (below) which is on your left. This street is typical of Tokyo’s shitamachi (lower town) district and has a few local food shops selling things like tempura, croquettes and hand-made tofu.
Komagome is only one stop from Sugamo station which is nicknamed “old persons Harajuku” and it seems like there’s traces of that extending here as the street is lined with shops catering for the more mature people such as clothing shops selling the bucket hats favoured by that generation of person!
As you wander on past a few old buildings and narrow side streets you will come to a tiny shrine on your left which is dominated by a beautiful cherry tree standing alone in the middle of an open space with a small torii gate and shrine in the vicinity.
The sun was shining beautifully by the time I finally arrived at Kyu-Furukawa Gardens (9am – 4.30pm, 150 yen entry) which are quite unique in that they’re a mix of Western and Eastern styles sitting next to each other but not interfering with one another. The stone made western style residence looks like a medieval British manor house and stands proud on top of a plateau, with the rose and azalea gardens beneath them. The building doubles up as the Otani Art Museum, and with an advanced booking, it is possible to see the interior of the mansion.
Beyond the azaleas is the Japanese-style garden with its focal points being Shinji-ike (pond), a 10 metre waterfall, a large stone yukimi-toro (lantern), a mountain stream and a small traditional tea-ceremony house. The best thing about this place was the low number of visitors whilst I was there which was during peak cherry blossom season remember! I didn’t know it at the time but you can buy a combination ticket which allows entry to both Kyu-Furukawa and Rikugien for 400 yen. It only saves 50 yen on the individual prices but if you know you’re going to both then you may as well buy it.
After Kyu-Furukawa gardens there was still time for a couple of quick stops before I had to get to work. Just round the corner and tucked away amid a few quiet back alleys is the little known Muryo-ji Temple (below) which is a tranquil place full of bamboo groves, jizo statues, Japanese racoon dogs (tanuki) as well as some flowers and a touch of cherry blossom.
Hiratsuka-jinja Shrine (below) was the final port of call en-route to Kami-Nakazato station. It is situated on a plateau overlooking the surrounding area and is the former site of Hiratsuka Castle. Nothing much to look at in all honesty but as you can cut through this place it’d be rude not to drop in on your way to the station.
* The book from where I got the idea for this walking tour