Tokyo University Sanshiro-ike garden in fall

On a beautiful warm November day, I discovered Tokyo University’s Sanshiro-ike garden. I had a few moments before a meeting, and saw on the campus map that there was a central garden on the main campus. I had assumed it would be a formal garden.

I was very surprised to descend a small hillside and encounter this natural looking pond. Looking in all directions, one sees only trees, water and sky, despite the compact size of the garden. Even on a warm weekend day with early fall foliage, few visitors were there. I was enchanted by the incredibly natural and removed-from-the-city feeling in this garden inside central Tokyo and Japan’s most famous university.

It takes a lot of artifice to make a city garden look so natural. The waterfall is amazing.

Continue reading to see some more images from Tokyo University, aka Todai.

Like Aoyama Gakuin, Todai in parts looks more Ivy League than the real thing, as if the signifier surprasses the signified. Another building combines mid-century modernism with earthquake retrofitting that shows off engineering skills matched with a keen aesthetic.

And finally I was captivated by this uncanny sight, viewed from the first floor of an academic building peering down into the basement. What bizarre experiment was going on? Did this lab’s water channel contain spare body parts or some other futuristic invention?

Todai is a remarkable mix of retro and future, nature and built environment, nerdiness and magic.

(Photos taken on November 21, 2009)


    1. Thank you, Tzuchiya, for sending the link. How is the restoration going? I love your Youtube video tribute at the top of the page.

  1. The YouTube video might be the our best work 🙂 This year some researchers of Todai were making inventory of species. probably in next year we will start actual restoration works, to keep this “wilderness” in Tokyo with balancing to human uses.

    I recommend you to visit Motomachi park near Todai if you have not visited yet. It’s also a historical green of Tokyo which build 80 years ago. This was part of first “urban park plan” for Tokyo which made soon after the huge earthquake in 1923.

    1. Thank you, Tzhuchiya, for your comment. I am very glad to hear that you are part of a group preserving Todai’s beautiful Sanshiro-ike park. It is incredibly beautiful. Your mention of Motomachi park reminds me that I have been wanting to post about the historic preservation of that park and the community effort to save it several years ago. I will get to it soon!

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