Knowing the World of “Sadou” (Vol.3) Visiting The Tea House of Nakajima, at Hama Rikyu Garden

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In Tokyo, there are many beautiful gardens where you are able to enjoy tea together with the view of the garden.

Today, I would like to introduce the Tea House of Nakajima, a wonderful tea house at the Hama Rikyu in Tokyo.


The Hama Rikyu Garden

Hama Rikyu is a garden which functioned as a branch castle of the Edo Castle during Edo era in Japan. It was built by the Tokugawa family which ruled Japan during the Edo period, and after the Meiji revolution it became the Imperial Villa. Now, the garden is granted to Tokyo, and it is famous as a national historic site.

Hama Rikyu is a stroll garden with a central pond filled with sea water, two Kamoba (an area to preserve wild ducks), and an inner moat. People walk around the pond to enjoy the changing of the scenery. Not only that, there are many beautiful flowers such as plum, rape flower, cherry blossom, peony, wisteria, iris and cosmos to amuse the eyes. Also the great tree of black pine which was planted during the time of the 6th Shogun shows the magnificence of history. This black pine is known by the name of “The Pine of 300 years”, and it was planted to praise the 6th Shogun Tokugawa Ienori’s great effort in reforming the garden.

300 years old pine

300 years old pine


Having Tea at the Hama Rikyu

There are 3 different tea houses inside Hama Rikyu, the Tea House of Nakajima, Tea House of Matsu, and the Tea House of Tsubame. The House of Nakajima was especially for the Shogun and his family, and the court nobles during the Edo period. It had the best view of the garden. Now it is open to the public and many people enjoy the view along with the fabulous flavor of the tea and the tea cakes served there.

I was lucky to be able to go there on April when the flowers Somei Yoshino, the great cherry blossom was in full bloom. The beauty of the flower made the flavor of the tea and the cake enhance more.

The flower of “Somei Yoshino”

The flower of “Somei Yoshino”

The flowers of “Ume” the plum, and “Nano Hana” the rape flower.

The flowers of “Ume” the plum, and “Nano Hana” the rape flower.

The flower of “Fuji” the wisteria.

The flower of “Fuji” the wisteria.


Through the big gate of O-te Mon, and walk past the big tree of Somei Yoshino and you will see the Tea House of Nakajima in the center of the pond. There is a small island in the center of the pond, where the tea house is placed on. The small bridge will lead you to the centee of the pond, and to the entrance of the tea house.

The entrance of the Tea House of Nakajima.

The entrance of the Tea House of Nakajima.


 At the entrance of the tea house, the beautiful design of the rock garden on the left side welcomes the guest. The guest is to order at the entrance, and pay in advance. Then, you take off your shoes and enter the house.

When I went to the tea house, I ordered the set of unbaked cake and Japanese tea. There are three types of cakes and the guests do not know which will be served, so it is exciting to find which cake fill be served.


The tea cakes which was served in April. (clock-wise from the top) Bara(Rose), Fuji(Wisteria), Botan(Peony). Every month, a tea cake which goes well with the season is served.



Inside the tea house, there are tatami rooms with red carpets, and there are seats outside the house to enjoy the garden view.

The best point about tea at this house, is that you do not need to know the rules and regulations of having tea so you could relax and fully enjoy the flavor of the tea and the cake, and enjoy the scenery. For those who would like to know the manners, there are instruction manuals in English and French.

Having tea with the quietness of the tatami room, or whether enjoying the fresh air of the garden by having a seat outside is both very enjoyable and favorable.



The tatami seat room.



The balcony seat. 


As I waited inside the room, my eyes were amused by the designs of the room and the outside view. When the ordered tea and cake was served, I bowed to the staff before receiving.




The set of unbaked cake and tea ¥720


I first helped myself to the cake. The cake which was served this day was “Botan” which is the Japanese name for peony. The harmonious color of red and white is very beautiful, and the cake is filled with citrus flavor bean jam. Not only the taste, but the cake entertains the eyes too. I held the cake by using the paper napkin (“Kaishi”) which the cake is placed on, and gently cut in half with the cocktail stick. As soon as I had a bite, the sweetness fills my mouth and heart with a gentle touch.

After having the cake, next comes the tea. The tea which is served here is an original blended tea which is made by The Association of Parks in Tokyo. I held the tea cup, turned the cup two times to show my gratitude towards the tea, and had a sip.

After having the tea, I take a look at the cup before placing it back to the tray. To look and enjoy the designs of the cups is part of the routine of having tea in a tea ceremony.

The cocktail stick which served with the tea cake could be taken home as a souvenir, and many people write down the date and the time on the stick and take it home for memories.

Before leaving, it is also an important part of the tea ceremony to take a glance at the room, and the ornaments decorated on the walls. Some ornaments such as the tools for making tea, and also the original blended tea is on sale at the gift shop in Hama Rikyu Park.


From the tea house, you are able to see a magnificent contrast of the traditional Japanese pond and park, and the modern skyscrapers. This contrast is very popular mainly by foreign travelers.



Hama Rikyu is known not only for the tea house, but also for the beautiful flowers which change from season to season, and the “Yukizuri” which is a rope stretched from the top of a tree to the lower branches to prevent their breaking under the heavy snow during the winter. There are many events held there, so you could enjoy the park throughout the whole year.

Your trip to Hama Rikyu will give you the most relaxing time, and the fabulous taste of the tea and the beautiful scenery is sure to give you the best memories you can imagine.


【Hama Rikyu Park】

・Open from 9:00AM ~ 5:00PM (entrance is available until 4:30PM)

・Closed during the new year holidays (from Dec.29 ~ Jan.1)

・We will be open without charge on May 4, and Oct. 1

※1 Except for the days listed above, there will be an entrance fee.

※2 Please not in advance that the price of the tea set at the Tea House may change from the day this article is written.

(noren Ringo)

Learning “Sadou”, a traditional Japanese Tea Ceremony (vol.1)

Knowing the world of “Sadou” –the manners- (vol.2)




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