Until our visit to Yumenoshima in late 2019 I wasn’t really aware of there being too many botanical gardens in Tokyo. As it turns out, there’s about a dozen such places and one of them happened to be in the ward that we reside in. Not only that but it was within spitting distance of a place I’ve been to numerous times.
Back one Sunday in early April, my wife and I went on a fairly short cycle ride to check out some sights in our local area of Itabashi-ku beginning with the Akatsuka Botanical Garden (5-17-14 Akatsuka) which is approximately 12,000 m² in size and includes medicinal plants garden and agricultural farm areas.
My photos certainly won’t sell this place, landscaped on a hilly area of Akasuka, as a must-see sight but presumably when everything is in bloom it’ll look far better! Despite all that it was still a good place to chill and wander amidst the calmness of nature. The main garden area was opened in October 1981 to provide a facility full of plants and trees in a close and familiar setting. Entrance is free and I was even provided with an English pamphlet by the friendly gentleman working in the mini library/information centre on site.
Just a minute away from there is a place that has been featured on Tokyo Fox a few times before. It’s still very much an unknown quantity for those who have never been to this northern Tokyo suburb which is probably the majority of the population to be fair!
Despite the accolade of being the third largest bronze buddha in Japan, the not-so-originally named Tokyo Daibutsu doesn’t seem to feature in any guide books and is very much off the beaten track. Jorenji Temple (5-28-3 Akatsuka) is the name of the temple grounds which it is located in. For the record, it is a 20 minute walk from Shimo Akatsuka station on the Tobu Toju line and is a place I have visited numerous times albeit not since it was part of my cycle trip to Kawagoe and back in the hot and humid conditions of July 2019.
500 metres down the road is Akatsuka Tameike Park that features a sizeable fishing pond (below) with ducks. It’s a fairly ordinary park which is also home to both the Itabashi Historical and Art Museums.
It is a quiet place with some history. Ascend the steps behind the pond and an area with a grassy lawn fringed by trees appears. It is the site of the historical Akatsuka Castle which was originally built in 1456. As you can see below the ruins are pretty non-existent!
The highlight is towards the rear where there are about a hundred plum trees. I thought it looked pretty cool out of bloom so just imagine what it is like at peak time of the year!
Over the road was a place called Yumezetto (夢・Ｚ) which we only noticed because of the fairly random goat by the car park entrance to what is a very shabby looking place.
This place sells curry but it’s speciality is Hokkaido soft serve ice cream which was absolutely delicious and along with the owners two dogs (as well as the goat!) turned out to be a highlight of an afternoon exploring such local sights.
Whilst this post isn’t exactly gonna sell Itabashi ward as a tourist destination for many, it does prove that it’s always worth getting out and exploring your area as all too often there are some hidden places of interest.
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