Sunday, May 28, 2017

Verny Park ( ヴェルニ公園 )

Another beautiful park in Yokosuka is Verny Park. While Tsukayama Park ( 塚山公園 ) and Kinugasayama Park ( 衣笠山公園 ) are rightly famous for cherry blossom viewing (and there are plenty of others in this beautiful town) and Taura Ume no Sato ( 田浦梅の里 ) in Yokosuka and Kairakuen ( 偕楽園 ) near Mito in Ibaraki Prefecture are famous for plum blossom viewing, Verny Park is the place for roses.

Verny Park is named for Léonce Verny. The memorial plaque to Mr. Verny reads;

Verny, a French naval engineer, came to Japan in 1865 to take charge of the Yokosuka Arsenal construction at the request of the Tokugawa Bakufu government whose aim was to strengthen the country's naval forces. His duties as administrator and constructor extended beyond the Bakufu government into the Meiji Reformation with the construction of the Kannonzaki Lighthouse, the Hashirimizu waterway, and the development of brick production. He also established a technical school inside the arsenal where he worked at training Japanese technicians before returning to his home country in 1876.

Léonce Verny

A part of Verny Park as seen from Liberty Cove Apartments with the Naval Base on the other side of Yokosuka Bay.

In good weather during the spring and summer the park is full of people taking pictures of roses. While I was taking the photographs for this post I was surrounded by many Japanese people doing the same.

A row of standing cages for climbing roses.

Verny Park has a number of places for people to gather. A popular place to take pictures is near a dome surrounded by deep red roses. While I was there a group of elderly people and their family members came to take pictures in a spot made for that purpose.

Now, more roses. Many of them are planted in beds with placards saying what hybrid of rose they are and when they were hybridized. Where I have that information I put it in the captions.

Blue Light 1995

Princess Michiko 1966 - The year she became Princess by marrying Emperor (then prince) Akihito

There are very many more. An entire book could be written about all of the rose hybrids that are grown in Verny Park. There are a couple of other things as well. There is a museum commemorating Léonce Verny, a cafe, and a 16 inch gun barrel salvaged from the battleship Mutsu. Perhaps I'll include those in a later post.

For now, one more commemoration, for Tadamasa Oguri (in Japanese surnames come first, so Oguri Tadamasa).

Oguri Tadamasa  1827 - 1868

The memorial plaque to Mr. Oguri reads;

Holding successive official posts as Magistrate of Finance and Magistrate of Diplomacy in the closing days of the Tokugawa Bakufu government, Oguri served as part of Japan's first delegation to the United States, and with the support of France promoted construction of the Yokosuka Arsenal. He also contributed greatly to Japan's modernization through the reformation of the military system, while also establishing a French language school. After the restoration of Imperial rule, Oguri was dismissed from his post for advocating armed resistance and was eventually beheaded by the Imperial Army in his territory at Gonda Village, now Kurabuchi Village, Gunma Prefecture.

Stones from the riverbank where he was beheaded were brought to the Park and are arranged near Mr. Oguri's statue.

A last photograph that combines roses with the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force (Navy).


Sunday, May 7, 2017

Tsukayama Kōen ( 塚山公園 ) and William Adams' Tomb

My (almost) home town, Yokosuka is famous for a number of things involving places and events both ancient and modern. It is also has a number of famous and wonderful parks. Tsukayama Park ( 塚山公園 ) is famous for its cherry blossoms. Cherry blossom viewing ( 花見 ) in Japan is a seasonal national pastime and feels a lot like the 4th of July in the Unites States. People go to the parks where they can view the cherry blossoms, layout blankets and have picnics with their families.

Tsukayama Park is one of the "Top 50 Scenic Beauty" sites in Kanagawa prefecture. It is at the top of a mountain in Yokosuka that was once in the fief of Miura Anjin ( 三浦按針 ) aka William Adams.

I normally edit images to a width of 640 pixels to best fit on the screen and save bandwidth, but I left the map image full size, so if you click on it you can actually read it and find the park.

A view of the U.S. Navy Base from the park.

And now some views of the park. I got there in early summer long after the cherry blossoms were gone, but the park is still peaceful and beautiful. It was a very hot day with plenty of haze in the air, as you can see in these pictures. Even so, it was comfortable in the park at the top of the mountain. (Ok, in the U.S. we would call it a hill.)

Some of you may have read the novel Shogun by James Clavell. In this novel a major character is Englishman John Blackthorne. Shogun is based on real historical events as are most of Clavell's novels. In this novel the character Blackthorne is based on the real life adventures of William Adams.

NOTE: The Wikipedia article gives Adams' grave as being in Hirado, but this memorial was only erected in 1954. He was granted a fief in Hemi that is now part of Yokosuka. History records that he wanted to be buried in his fief on a hill facing Edo and said so on his deathbed. Although he did die in Hirado, this is, in fact, where he is buried. Being samurai and a hatamoto to Tokugawa Ieyasu it would be expected that his wishes would be respected.

Here are some pictures of his gravesite. His Japanese wife, Oyuki, is buried there with him.

So, if you have any time in Yokosuka, especially when the cherry blossoms are in bloom, visit Tsukayama Park and enjoy the thousand cherry trees and hanami. It is a lovely park.

William Adams from SamuraiWiki
Wiliam Adams and Yokosuka published by Yokosuka City.