Only 10 minutes from my home in Kagurazaka is Hotel Chinzanso, a beautiful hotel with a surprising Japanese garden that has both Shinto and Buddhist elements.
Open to the public for free, the garden of Hotel Chinzanso features a koi-filled lake, the oldest wooden pagoda in Tokyo, a shinto shrine, a waterfall and more. The garden also has various benches scattered around it, allowing you to stop at the main view points to enjoy the surroundings.
You may already know that I am quite partial to the outdoors, and in my last post I introduced you to Higo-Hosakawa Garden, another inconspicuous green-space only 100-metres away from Hotel Chinzanso (so you can visit both together). Read on for more details and pictures, or if you don’t like spoilers, jump straight to the location details. In the next post I will write about my favourite cafés nearby.
Why is Hotel Chinzanso Garden Worth a Visit?
Well in my opinion, there are four main reasons.
Firstly, I happen to think that some of the “must-see” places in Tokyo such as Meiji-jingu and Yoyogi-koen are overrated. Don’t get me wrong, these places are beautiful, I just prefer quieter, smaller places with a more intimate setting.
In May 2017, I wrote about the joy of the unexpected, and this leads me to my second reason; this garden is completely hidden behind the high walls along the river. Most people don’t know it exists. I passed by the hotel several times before curiosity got the best of me and I peered inside.
The third thing I like about this garden is that there are info-signs everywhere in English and Japanese, giving you more information about the history and background of this place. I find this can be quite rare in smaller tourist attractions!
My final reason is probably quite an obvious one – it’s breathtaking!
Shiratama Inari Shrine
Originally located in Kyoto, the Shiratama Inari Shrine is now the guardian of Hotel Chinzanso. There are two large kitsune (fox) statues here each holding different objects in their mouths. In Shintoism, kitsune are believed to be messengers to the god/goddess Inari. They are magical-beings, with shape-shifting capabilities!
A surprising feature of this garden is the three-tier wooden pagoda which crowns the hilltop and is thought to be around 1000-years old, originally from Hiroshima prefecture.
The Seven Gods of Fortune
Around the garden you will find statues of the seven lucky deities: Ebisu, Daikokuten, Bishamonten, Benzaiten, Fukurokuji, Jurojin, Hotei and Kichijoten. Of these seven gods, Ebisu is the only one whose origins are Japanese. The others stems from India, Nepal and China; through Hinduism, Taoism and Buddhism. If you already have some knowledge of Tokyo, you may know Ebisu better as a business district in Shibuya.
Besides from being one of the most famous natural water springs in Tokyo, Kokosei Well also saved lives during the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923.
Gojo Waterfall and Yusei Lake
Unsurprisingly, this hotel is a popular spot for weddings and photoshoots. You will most likely see ladies in kimono, men in yukatas and a range of happy faces!
Hotel Chinzanso Garden is 10-minutes walk from Waseda Station on the Tozai Metro Line.