Tokyo Tales for 2020[No. 1]

The Daimyo Teien of Edo

Strolling through some of the capital's most beautiful gardens

| Daimyo Garden

Still Going Strong After 320 Years! Rikugien in Paintings and Photographs

1704 Rikugien-no-zu Source: National Diet Library
1905 Photo of Nakanoshima Seikado Bunko collection
2015 Photo of Nakanoshima

This painting and photographs from down the years featuring the island of Nakanoshima on Rikugien’s Daisensui Pond show how the garden’s landscape has changed over time. The painting is part of a trio of Rikugien scrolls painted by Kano Tsunenobu and his sons Chikanobu and Minenobu and gifted to the Sento Imperial Palace in August 1705. Nakanoshima appears to have been almost bare of trees, the garden’s twinned hills standing out in stark relief. Most daimyo teien disappeared at the end of the Edo period, but Rikugien was purchased as a second home in 1878 by Iwasaki Yataro. The next photo was taken in the year the Russo-Japanese War ended (1905) when the Iwasaki family invited the triumphant returning soldiers to a victory celebration at Rikugien. Note the abundance of trees and dense foliage on Nakanoshima. Lastly, 2015. Work has been carried out on Nakanoshima to restore a more manicured look.