Koishikawa Korakuen has always been one of my favorite parks in Tokyo. It is historical and has much to see. The park began when Yorifusa Tokugawa built a residence there in the 1600s. Over many years many features were added, and in 1938 it became a public park. Now, we can enjoy the grounds and what is inside, including its beautiful plum blossom grove.
I visited Koishikawa for these plum blossom photographs in 2019. They were the best I saw that year. But the weather didn’t cooperate. It was overcast. The blue sky tried to poke through the clouds, but it couldn’t get through for long. With the flowers in such good condition, it wasn’t a problem.
All the flowers looked great and were in full bloom. Out of all the places I visited in 2019 to look at plum blossoms, Koishikawa Korakuen looked the best. The pink and white trees were well-mixed together in some areas, much more so than at other parks. Here there were no walls of either straight white or pink. To see a lot of white behind pink or the reverse was lovely.
For my visit, it was crowded. Luckily there weren’t as people as I encountered at Mogusaen. But, it was good to see most of them with cameras. And by looking at their gear, I could see some were serious photographers.
Over the years, I have found that most people who are serious photographers are willing to chat. Give them a smile or a nod, and you can make a new friend or two. Don’t worry. Most of them can speak at least a little English and are happy to talk.
It was a pity that I got to the park quite late in the afternoon in some ways. With so much cloud cover and the sun starting to get relatively low in the sky, the light was quite gentle. I know I was talking about blue sky earlier, but that usually means dealing with harsher light. In the end, I guess it all worked out for the best because I was happy with the photos.
One thing that I thought about after taking these pictures was getting a new lens. I took some of these photographs with the XF 55-200 mm f3.5-4.8 lens. It is a great lens that gives excellent bokeh, but it has one serious and one minor problem. The serious problem is the minimum focus distance, which is one meter. That means you have to stand well away from the flower, which isn’t ideal, quite a nuisance. And the minor problem is that if you use autofocus, the lens can spend a lot of time hunting for a place to focus. Some manual focusing skills can be pretty handy with this lens!
The plum blossom grove is in the northeast section of the park, right next to an amusement park, Tokyo Dome. Every so often, you get to hear the rush of the rollercoasters and the screams of those riding them. It gets a little noisy. The locals are probably so used to it that it might be ambient noise to them.
I wish I had had time to enjoy some more time walking around the park. It would have been nice to see Koishikawa’s beautiful bridges and a (no-longer-used) temple. But, as I had visited Ushi Tenjin Kitano Shrine earlier, it wasn’t possible. The park was about to close.
Koishikawa Korakuen is fantastic in any season. The plum and cherry blossom seasons are best, though. They are a real treat. I also have a complete article about the park you can read here. If you have been there during the festival, please share your thoughts about it.
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