Ichikawa-shi man’yō shokubutsuen
Ichikawa Municipal Man’yō Botanical Garden
2-1857 Ōno-machi, Ichikawa, Chiba, 272-0805
TEL: 047-332-8774 (Parks and Greenery Department; Japanese only)
9:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
9:30 a.m. – 4:00 p. m.
The garden is closed on Mondays, or the following day when Monday falls on a public holiday, and over the New Year period.
The garden is approximately 5 minutes walk from Ichikawa Ōno 市川大野 station on the JR Musashino line 武蔵野線, a journey of 37 minutes from Tokyo station.
Exit the station and cross the main road, turn left, and then right after the Police Box, and walk down the road until you see a set of stone steps on your left leading up. Climb these steps and the garden will be immediately in front of you.
The garden is designed to resemble a formal Japanese garden, with carefully defined beds, manicured lawns, trees and bushes, a pond with carp, and neat gravel paths. In total, it covers 3,387 square metres, and displays 197 different plants. These are 67 types of grass, 4 type of bamboo, 82 types of tree, 15 types of vine, 22 fresh water plants, 6 seaweeds, and 1 fungus, meaning that there are a range of non-Man’yō plants in the collection – for a list of the Man’yō plants present, see below. These are displayed accompanied by two different sorts of signage: a simple plaque giving the modern and Man’yō names of the plant and a sample poem; and for some plants, more detailed plaques additionally giving the plant’s family, usage and an image. All information is provided only in Japanese.
Following the path through the garden takes you past the plants, pond and a couple of rest-spots where seating and shade is provided. On an early weekday visit, the garden was almost deserted, and provided a welcome opportunity for quiet contemplation and self-education.
Ichikawa has a lengthy association with the Man’yōshū, as ten poems in the anthology were either composed in the vicinity, or refer to it. Five of these are by either Yamabe no Akahito or Takahashi no Mushimaro, while the remainder are ‘Eastern Poems’ (azuma uta 東歌). Of the total, seven refer to the legend of the maiden, Tegona, with the best known pair being Takahashi no Mushimaro’s long poem (MYS IX: 1807) and its envoy (MYS IX: 1808), although Akahito’s sequence (MYS III: 434-436), also addresses the same topic.
With these long-standing literary associations, and a local policy to create parks with special characteristics, a decision was taken to create a Man’yō Botanical Garden as one of these, resulting in the park opening in 1989. The aim was to create a space where the area’s unique historical characteristics could be showcased in living form through the garden’s plants, while also providing a pleasant space for local residents to enjoy the beauties of nature, combined with instruction on the plants used in the Man’yō period for food, weaving, dyeing and medicine.
A committee of local experts and scholars was formed to consider the formal garden design, and choice of plants and poems, and this was finalised following careful deliberation and visits to other Man’yō Botanical Gardens to view their layout and collections. As well as the garden itself, a key feature was the provision of a study space within the garden offices, to allow plant and poetry study groups to further their activities on site, and link the garden with local cultural activities in the community.