Tokyo, Rikugien / 東京、六義園

Rikugien was constructed between 1695 and 1705. The picturesque style of the park is typical of parks from the Edo Period. Its name is a tribute to Chinese poetry and refers to the six classifications of Waka. Rikugien was donated to the City of Tokyo in 1938 and has since been managed by the city government.


Despite being in the centre of town, Rikugien is a spacious park that has a large pond and mixed coniferous and deciduous forests. There are numerous viewing spots scattered around the park, each marked by a stone sign (Sekichu). This is a photograph of the two garden hills, Imo-yama and Se-yama, on the middle island (Naka-jima) – they are named after Izanagi and Izanami, the mythological creators of Japan and its gods.


Platinum Ogon Koi Cyprinus carpio (“White Koi“): Koi is a species of ornamental common carp that is very popular in East Asia. There are many different varieties that are distinguished by their colors and patterns. The most common Koi are a mix of either white, orange, yellow, black, or red. The pond in Rikugien houses many Koi that have grown very large over the years and they frequently swim near the small bridges where they are fed. This is a photograph of a White Koi; its simple metallic white scales balance out the flashy patterns of its friends.


Japanese Maple Acer palmatum (“Iroha Momiji” or “Momiji“): Momiji is a type of maple tree native to North Asia, Mongolia, and Russia. Momiji can be found in most Japanese parks and gardens and they are best known for their spectacular display of colors during autumn. This photograph of Momiji leaves and seeds was taken in early spring. The seeds will begin to disperse later in the season. Momiji seeds need to spread far to increase chances of survival as the maple tree crowns are very wide – the pink petal-like seed wings work much like helicopter wings, they autorotate and allow the pod to stay airborne for much longer while allowing the wind to sweep it further into the distance.


Caterpillar: Caterpillars start roaming around in search of leafy foliage in spring. They do this with the aid of many legs – only three pairs are true legs though, all the rest are prolegs that disappear by they time they metamorphosize. This photograph is of a young caterpillar on a bed of colourful ‘autumn’ leaves in spring (you guessed right, it was a constructed scene!), if you look close enough you’ll be able to see the three pairs of  true legs near the head.


Hoverfly Syrphidae (“Hoverfly“): Hoverflies are a family of insects in the Diptera order with more than 6,000 described species. Like the honeybee, Hoverflies often have characteristic black and yellow / orange patterns on their abdomen and provide pollination services. Perhaps the most interesting fact about Hoverflies is that they mate midair. Since male and female Hoverflies are similar in appearance, images of mating pairs just look like a single Hoverfly standing on a reflective surface ( This photograph is of a lone Hoverfly – if only we were able to catch him in the act, what a nice photo that would have been!


Oriental turtle dove Streptopelia orientalis (“Turtle Dove“): The turtle shell-like pattern on its plumage and the blue-black patch on its neck make the Turtle Dover easy to identify. The shy bird is a granivore and is often found pecking away in solitude. When it does find a partner, it commits to a monogamous relationship and shares squeaker-rearing responsibilities. This photograph is of a Turtle Dove rummaging for seeds alone – its relationship status will change soon enough though, as the breeding period will begin in late April.



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