garden, architecture, art

Suikeien Garden (Shibamata Taishakuten), Katsushika

At the back of Shibamata Teishakuten’s precincts is a beautiful Japanese garden. It is Suikeien garden, which was made by renovating the front garden of the Daikyakuden (grand reception hall).

Although the garden is off limits, you can enjoy the view from various angles as you walk through the covered corridors set up in the garden.

The atmosphere of the garden is quite different from Taishakuten approach, which is bustling on weekends, or the sculpture gallery of Taishakudo, where Japanese craftsmen’s skills are impressive. How about spending a quiet time in the garden, enjoying the nature of Japan?

Daikyakuden

From the sculpture gallery of the Taishakudo, there is a hall that connects Taishakudo and Soshido (main hall). After you cross the hall, you can find the ‘Daikyakuden’ on your left. It was designed by master carpenter Suzuki Genjiro in 1929 as a reception hall for the followers.

The area is about 500 square meters. It is made entirely of cypress, which is durable and long-lasting. It is believed that building a wooden structure of this scale is not possible today.

The building is single-story. Inside there are four tatami rooms arranged in a row, and each has a wide veranda with glass shoji screens on the north side, all facing Suikeien. 

In one of these rooms, there is a folding screen painting by the Japanese style painter Yokoyama Taikan, called ‘Gun En Yugi Zu’ or ‘Picture of Playing Monkeys’ (a rough draft of the sculpture). You can see it up close and feel the power of the screen painting. At the far end of the row of tatami rooms is the Chogyo Room. The tokobashira in this room is the largest nandina wood pillar in Japan. A tokobashira is a decorational pillar that stands beside an alcove. The tree is about 1,500 years old, and you can see its history in its appearance.

Strolling Pond (chisen kaiyu shiki) Garden

Suikeien garden was originally built to be seen from Daikyakuden, but in 1984 a corridor was built around the perimeter of the garden so that people could enjoy the garden from different angles. It is also known as the last garden created by the landscape architect Nagai Rakuzan.


It was named Suikeien garden, which translates to deep and tranquil valley stream, because the air of the waterfall in the garden is deep and quiet.

A garden like Suikeien garden, with a pond at its center, designed so that the garden looks beautiful from any position in the corridor, are called chisen kaiyu shiki, or strolling pond gardens.

Tokyo Metropolitan GovernmentdesignatedGarden of Scenic Beauty

Many of the temples located in Tokyo were relocated after they were damaged by the Great Kanto Earthquake and World War II. As a result, many of the gardens of the temples have been altered.

But Suikeien’s construction began before the war, and afterward there have been no large alterations. Therefore it is considered to have artistic and academic values, and is regarded as a highly valuable garden. On March 11, 2016, it was chosen as a ‘Tokyo Metropolitan Governmentdesignated Garden of Scenic Beauty’.


Sit Back and Enjoy a Relaxing Moment

As you walk along the corridor enjoying the beauty of the garden, you will come to the other side of the building. The charm of the strolling pond garden is that you can see the same garden from the opposite side.

There is a viewing platform in the center of the Daikyakuden. Also, there are benches in the corridor. Sitting back and relaxing as you watch plants and birds in the garden is a luxurious experience.

The admission fee to Suikeien is 400 yen (200 yen for children), admission to the sculpture gallery included, so you can enjoy both at once.

Auther:Hiroko Hirachi

Writer for website, magazine, and newspaper. Used to be a newspaperman. Also active as a yoga teacher, teaching at temple.

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