"The Park" of the Imperial Capital TOKYO

It is the beginning of modern Western style park in Japan. Located at the boundary of Kasumigaseki, the government office district, and Marunouchi, the business area, the park composes “Tokyo Central Park” linked to the Imperial Palace and the inner moat.
There used to be a fishing village that faced Shinagawa Bay, but since the early period of the Edo shogunate they reclaimed the land to build samurai residences, and in the early Meiji period it came to be assigned to Department of the Army and a drill court was placed. It is the bottom of the buried valley that leads from the Nihonbashi plateau to the Imperial Palace, and the valley reaches minus 20 meters.

After the drill court moved to Aoyama, the government office district was planed on the site with a courtyard style arrangement, but the land on the ocean side was so soft that it was considered inadequate. In 1889 they decided to establish the central park of the imperial capital following the city improvement plan, but it was quite difficult to choose the plan. The plan was finally decided in 1901, proposed by Seiroku Honda and his group, who was an expert in forestry and had just returned home from Germany.

According to Honda, the moat near the Hibiya Mitsuke is a pond that uses the stone wall and the tree above it to slightly break the heart character, the cloud shaped pond with the crane fountain is borrowed from the model figure in the planning documents of the park by Bertram, a German scholar of landscape, and the German park style was applied to other walkways and playgrounds respectively. In addition, he used main stones and still bent black pine tree that had been left at each broken “mitsuke”, the castle gate, and decided to transplant azalea trees at the part of today’s azalea garden by buying up all the azalea garden in Okubo which had been on sale at that time for 500 yen.

“Three Westerns”, meaning Western flowers, Western music and Western food, which were quickly adopted in Hibiya Park, blew through urban park life as a wind of civilization and enlightenment. In 1905, the band-stage style concert hall, the first outdoor concert hall in the park was built and the concert for the citizen by the Army military band became very popular. The musical performance in Hibiya park made a considerable contribution to development of the Western music culture in Japan.

Hibiya Park has been in everyday lives of office workers for more than 100 years while being a stage for numerous national events and political gatherings, etc. It is why Hibiya Park is “THE PARK” – speaking of the park, it means Hibiya Park.(S.Doi)


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