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Winter at Hamarikyu Gardens in Tokyo

Last week, I visited Hamarikyu-en for the first time. It’s winter now, obviously, but this day was so lucky because it was mild and sunny, so a perfect day to visit. It’ll definitely give you a skewed image of what wintertime in Tokyo looks like.

First, the teahouse, Nakajima-no-Ochaya.

I love this picture above – it looks like one of those architectural, computer-generated concept renderings.

See what I mean about the weather? People were even taking their tea outside. It couldn’t have been a more perfect day but we didn’t plan this or check the weather or anything. Pure luck.

Those ropes over the trees are known as yuki-zuri, meaning “snow sling”. They’re used in winter to protect the trees from heavy snowfall, but also used decoratively in places where there isn’t much snow.

Seasonal winter wagashi. This one is ume (Japanese apricot). I found it to be too sweet, but my friend who came along – let’s give the fake name Koro – told me it’s supposed to be that way as a contrast to the bitter matcha.

Next, winter around the gardens…


Water bus. There is a “port” at Hamarikyu. You could ride this thing along the Sumida River and see quite a few places in Tokyo in a day if you wanted to.

This shrine is just for show now. It was a bit sad, all boarded up. What happens to the kami?

It was really strange to see the ume blossoming when there was also snow on the ground. And then a few days after this, it snowed heavily again and became cold. But the Setsubun or Last Day of Winter was yesterday, so here’s hoping it will only get nicer from here on out.

The #selfieception courtesy of Koro. I super love this phone case, and lots of people ask about it. I actually got it on eBay.

And then finally this 300-year-old pine tree was our last stop. This tree has been bonsai-ed to death, because it grows outwards rather than upwards. Trust me. I’m Canadian and I know my pine trees – those things don’t stop man! We used to have a huge one on our lawn that had to be cut down when it became taller than the house. 

Anyway – there you have it! Winter at Hamarikyu Gardens. And my luckiest weather day of the year so far.

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