Hakone gardens, Meiji house, and shrine

Now that I have posted about Hakone moss outside the organized visit, I will also share some images from the Nodai school trip. Above you can see how many students, faculty, and research fellows participated on the trip by counting the shoes.

We stayed at Hotel Yoshiike, a ryokan with an amazing Kyoto style stroll garden that is large and other worldly. The buildings are very 1960s style boxes, but the gardens make you lose track of both time and place. There is something truly masterful about the streams and pond, the wandering paths, the careful plantings and attentive maintenance.

In addition to appreciating the garden, there were enormous meals, much drinking, and onsen bathing.

The other stunning garden we saw was designed for Yamada Denki’s corporate villa by one of Japan’s most celebrated contemporary landscape designer, Sakakibara Hachiro, who also created the modern Japanese garden at Tokyo MidTown. The contrast between the two gardens is stunning: while Yoshiike is flat and terraced, Sakakibara’s is vertical and borrows from the surrounding landscape of steep, forested hills. There is a lot of drama and movement in the garden in terms of waterfalls and paths.

The Tenseien shrine turns a (mostly?) natural waterfall into a shrine. I had never seen the Shinto rope and paper decorations attached to a waterfall.

We also visited this charming Meiji-era house, a small “out-building” attached to a larger villa. The image at the top with the shoes came from this entrance.

More photos after the jump.

The last three images are Shinji sensei, the widely revered senior member of Nodai’s Garden Laboratory, who is retiring this month; students listening to a garden speaker; and the odd mix of picturesque and industrial that is common in Hakone.


  1. Always interesting to see about trends elsewhere in the world about sustainable living, space and lifestyle.

    The photo of shoes at door reminds me much of our shoes in my childhood sunporch at home where we lived in Ontario, Canada long ago. Many non-Asian friends were amazed by all the shoes in our family (8 people) but we were amazed that in other homes, people walked around the house inside with their outdoor shoes on.

    Have you writen anything on cycling infrastructure in Japan as part of sustainable community design? Or perhaps you can recommend some good sites.


    1. Thank you for the cycling links. I agree that cycling is an important element for creating livable cities. I need to learn more about cycling activists in Tokyo: infrastructure is non-existent (apart from ample bike parking structures near the train stations), yet usage seems very high. Foreigners might be surprised how many people ride on sidewalks, which presents dangers to pedestrians. I wish more street space were dedicated to bicycles.

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