The Kanda Jōsui (aqueduct)
Koishikawa Kōraku-en is a Japanese style garden in Koishikawa, Bunkyō Ward, (next to Tōkyō Dome). It is one of 4 surviving Edo Period “daimyō gardens” in modern Tōkyō, the others being Rikugi-en, Kyū-Shiba Rikyū Tei-en, and Kyū-Hama Rikyū Tei-en.
While all 4 gardens have been modified since the Edo Period, they are all in excellent condition. Kōraku-en and Kyū-Shiba Rikyū Tei-en are in an elite group in that they enjoy dual protection by the Japanese government as both a Special Place of Scenic Beauty and a Special Historic Site.
Supposedly, there are only 7 sites in Japan with this double designation.
The park is very large today, so many people may be surprised to know that this was actually just one small section of the sprawling residence of the Mito Domain (one of three residences they held in Edo). When I say residence, think massive embassy compound of a major ally of the government.
Construction of the garden was started in 1629 by Tokugawa Yorifusa, the daimyō of Mito Domain, and was completed by his successor, Tokugawa Mitsukuni (often referred to by his pen name, Mito Kōmon).
Mitsukuni named the garden Kōraku-en. Kōraku looks like a Chinese word (and hell, it may be. I don’t know Chinese, though) and means “take it easy afterwards.” The idea being, a wise ruler should worry about his people first. When the business of governing the people is finished, then you can relax in the garden.
Supposedly, the garden shows strong Chinese character in its design, as it was influenced by the West Lake of Hangzhou. I’ve never seen a Chinese garden or that lake so take that with a grain of salt.