East Meets West at the Kyu-Furukawa Gardens

The scene of roses in front of the beautiful brick mansion at the Kyu-Furukawa Gardens has long been something I’ve wanted to see with my own eyes. Though it pops up often in my Instagram feed, this garden has somehow remained off the tourist trail. Continue reading “East Meets West at the Kyu-Furukawa Gardens”

Shinjuku’s French Garden

After years of walking past bare, brown hedges not even worth a second glance, I finally managed to visit Shinjuku Gyoen when the roses were actually in bloom. Hooray!

The French Formal Garden is one of the three main areas within Shinjuku Gyoen – the others being a wide open English lawn, and a Japanese garden and pond. This section of the enormous park has its turn in the spotlight every May, when 500 rose shrubs splash a multitude of colours throughout the lush, green landscape.

There are around 100 varieties of roses here and it’s just as much fun finding out what they are called as it is admiring the flowers themselves: Playboy, Jude the Obscure, Lavender Dream, By Appointment, Sexy Rexy, Honey Bouquet, Princess Aiko and Glamis Castle, just to name a few!

May is such a nice time of year. It’s not too humid yet, nor the sun too intense. The hectic start to the new work and school year in April as well as the craziness of the cherry blossom season has died down and the pulse of the city has slowed to a steady beat. It’s a great time to do things like sit under a tree reading a book, have a picnic with some friends, or stroll around a garden. And Shinjuku Gyoen is the perfect place to do so.

Stop and Smell the Roses

“Often I sit, looking back to a childhood,

Mixt with the sights and the sounds of the wildwood”

– Henry Kendall

If there’s one thing that makes me happy, it’s being surrounded by nature. Living in the city makes that a bit hard, but there are ways! In particular, I love flowers. The smell, the colours, their meanings, the way they brighten up any room or garden, the way receiving a bunch of flowers or even a single rose can make you smile! Pretty cliché, I know, but it’s true. Growing up, our home was in the middle of our own little rainforest. Towering trees, shrubs, vines, and the odd wild animal! There were all sorts of flowers: hibiscus, bottle brush, lily of the nile, frangipani, hydrangea, and many many more. There’s no doubt it all made a lasting impression on me!

So, because I live in the city, I try to make an effort to ‘get back to nature’ as much as I can. Recently, I joined my regular hiking group for a trip to Ikuta Ryokuchi Park in Kawasaki, just west of Tokyo. Ikuta Green is in a hilly area and has a fabulous view of the Tokyo skyline. The weather on the weekend was perfect – blue skies and not a cloud in sight – so we could even see Tokyo SkyTree and Tokyo Tower way off in the distance! The park has a few different features, and one of the main attractions is a small but elegant rose garden. I could have spent hours taking photos and enjoying the afternoon warmth! The flowers bloom in spring and autumn, so they are just approaching their last stretch before winter takes over.

Ikuta Ryokuchi Rose Garden

Ikuta Ryokuchi Rose Garden

Ikuta Ryokuchi Rose Garden

Ikuta Ryokuchi Rose Garden

Ikuta Ryokuchi Rose Garden

Ikuta Ryokuchi Rose Garden

Ikuta Ryokuchi Rose Garden

Ikuta Ryokuchi Rose Garden

Ikuta Ryokuchi Rose Garden

Ikuta Ryokuchi Rose Garden

Ikuta Ryokuchi Rose Garden

Ikuta Ryokuchi Rose Garden

Ikuta Ryokuchi Rose Garden

Ikuta Ryokuchi Rose Garden

Ikuta Ryokuchi Rose Garden

Ikuta Ryokuchi Rose Garden

Ikuta Ryokuchi Rose Garden

Ikuta Ryokuchi Rose Garden

Ikuta Ryokuchi Rose Garden

Ikuta Ryokuchi Rose Garden