Sento Palace Imperial Gardens

The Sento palace and it's adjoining Omiya palaces were built in the early 17th C by the Shogun Tokugawa for the Emperor Gomizuno and Empress Dowager Tofukumon-in. The Omiya palace survives after being rebuilt many times although the extensive gardens are named after the Sento palace and were designed by Kobori Engshu. They comprise a stroll garden encompassing the North and South Ponds.

The imposing entrance to the Omiya palace dominates the courtyard. The palace is still used to accommodate royal visitors.

Passing through the inner courtyard, through a narrow gate a wonderful vista of the North Pond opens up resplendent in its autumnal colour. The trees here are largely acers with some cherry, pines and gingko biloba. The path follows the pond sometimes by the waters edge at others within the wooded surrounds with views of the lake opening up and disappearing as ones skirts the pond.

Hidden in the bushes is the three-legged lantern of an unusual marble-like material resting beneath a trained pine, complete with supporting crutch. Tree and branch support like this are commonplace and not seen by the Japanese.


Crossing the maple bridge takes one to the South Pond with superb views of the stone zigzag bridge complete with wisteria trellis and a stone slab bridge. Again a highly sculptured pine creates a focal point to the pond set on a man made peninsular with rocks and shrubs.

At the far side of the pond is a more modern pavilion providing a resting and refreshment place for relaxation and enjoyment of the views. The foreshore of the pond at this point is set with cobbles and the view through the trees back to the stone Tosho Bridge is breathtaking.