Sakura (cherry blossom) along the Tamagawa Waterway (玉川上水) in Koganei, Tokyo. The stretch of about 4 kilometers of cherry trees was extremely popular for hanami (flower viewing).
It is very difficult to imagine that only a century ago there was this much natural beauty in a city that now consists almost entirely of concrete and asphalt. On this photo, it is still a wide and open landscape. It’s like, “This is Tokyo? No way!” But actually, scenes like these were quite common in Tokyo during the Meiji Period (1868-1912).
According to the still existing Koganei Cherry Tree Monument (小金井桜樹碑) near Koganei Bridge, the trees were first planted here in 1737. Emperor Meiji visited Koganei in 1883 (Meiji 16), making it one of the more popular sites to do hanami in the capital.
Most of the cherry trees were cut down in 1954 (Showa 29) to build the Itsukaichi Highway, the open spaces where people could sit also disappeared. Almost no cherry trees remain.
Although it appears to be a small stream, the Tamagawa Waterway was the main source of water for Tokyo until the Murayama (1927, better known as Tama Lake) and Yamaguchi (1934) reservoirs were built.
It appears to be impossible to pin down the exact location where this photo was taken, so the Current Map shows an arbitrary spot in Koganei along the original Tamagawa Waterway.
Amazingly, the waterway route survives to this day. The Tamagawa Waterway Green Lane (玉川上水緑道), a long winding park in Tokyo, follows (and mostly covers) the original Tamagawa Waterway.
Reference for Citations
Duits, Kjeld (). Tokyo 1890s: Koganei, OLD PHOTOS of JAPAN. Retrieved on January 29, 2022 (GMT) from https://www.oldphotosjapan.com/photos/822/koganei
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