One of my favourite places in Tokyo is Hamarikyu gardens. It is an odd oasis of calm right in the middle of the city, and if you look past the wonderfully manicured trees and gardens you are surrounded by the hideous skyscrapers of central Tokyo. For me, the highlight was walking along the bridge over the lake and looking downwards…the lake floor is absolutely teeming with haze gobies.
All year round there is something to see here; the wisteria, cherry blossoms, plum trees, pine and maple all make their presence known at various times, and a national peony competition sees the best flowers planted for display in the northern part of the garden. The lake is fed directly from the sea (the water level being controlled by a series of water sluice gates) and holds, in addition to haze, two or three other species of goby, striped mullet, a native fish called maruta whose English name I do not know, juvenile sea bass and even crabs. The gardens were the Shogun’s playground; this is a duck hunting hide:
In the middle of the lake there is a tea-house that serves maccha tea with a Japanese sweet; Westerners should be warned that you will be required to sit on a tatami floor, unless the weather is good and you can sit at the tables outside. It costs 300 yen to get into Hamarikyu. The Sumida River “bus” ferry leaves here for Asakusa and Odaiba, and the gardens are conveniently located right next to Tsukiji fish market.