By Bonson Lam
Happo En is about as perfect a Japanese garden as you can find. Located in Shirokanedai, Tokyo, the garden is used primarily as the site for traditional Japanese weddings. Over 2,000 such weddings are held per year at the gardens, an incredible number but when you see the grounds, you can understand why.
To say that the pond, with its koi carp swimming about, is pretty, or that the traditional tea house offers an elegant touch of culture, is simply not enough. Nor is the deliberate placement of the garden's cherry blossom, azalea and maple trees or the sculptured bonsai plants enough to convince visitors of the garden's beauty.
What makes Happo En so beautiful is the almost surreal level of harmony that all of these traditional Japanese landscaping elements combine to create. Every element has been carefully considered, every component perfectly balanced against each other to create a legacy of quality that has lasted since the Edo Period.
The main gate is a simple yet impressively grand structure. As you enter and follow the walking path, the natural layout and design of the garden is evident. Choice locations feature small kakutei rest pavilions, intelligently designed to offer beautiful views of their surroundings. A bonsai display rests along the path too, featuring plants that are well over 100 years old. Among them is apparently one plant over 500 years old...
Along with the 19th-century built Muan teahouse, the garden features the Hakuokan and Kochuan, higher end establishments servicing the venue side of the garden. Even without making use of their services, their finely designed menus, banquet halls and traditional dining and service experiences naturally add further depth to the garden's atmosphere.
Happo En offers a stunningly harmonious example of all that is beautiful about traditional Japanese landscaping, making it the perfect place to visit when in Tokyo.
Take either the Namboku or Mita Subway Lines to Shirokanedai Station. Head out of Exit 2 for a 1-minute walk to the garden.
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A Japanese Permanent Resident, I drool over proper soba and sushi while Japanese aesthetics ticks all the right boxes for me.With over 100 published articles on Japan as well as 5 English language books written in a traditional Japanese style, I also happen enjoy writing. Funny that...I'm also the Regional Partner for Tokyo, Japan's never ending capital, so if you've anything to say about Tokyo - or Japan in general - don't be shy and contact with me via firstname.lastname@example.org