The Bee Tower is a popular attraction, from which visitors can get a view of Asakusa.
Asakusa Hanayashiki is located in Okuyama which has been bustling with people, including visitors to Senso-ji Temple since the Edo Period. In the Edo Period, there were many playhouses, and street performers gathered in Okuyama. Asakusa Hanayashiki opened as a flower garden in which peonies and chrysanthemums were displayed. It was a large botanical garden that covered 8,000 square meters at the time of its opening. The precincts of Senso-ji Temple were converted into Asakusa Park under the Cabinet decree in 1873, and the park was divided into seven sections in 1884. As the temple estate was redeveloped as Asakusa Park, Hanayashiki, located in the newly divided 5th section, began to display animals, and set up amusement facilities, becoming the origin of zoos in Japan. Then, Hanayashiki was transformed into an amusement park. Ozan-kaku, a tile-roofed, five-story wooden building, was built in 1887. It was called "Hoou-kaku," or a building of phoenix, because a gilded wooden image of phoenix was placed on its roof. Besides Ryoun-kaku (Asakusa Junikai) that was a landmark in Asakusa, Ozan-kaku also became a popular site.
Although Hanayashiki became one of the nation's most popular zoos in the Taisho and early Showa Periods, it suffered from the Great Kanto Earthquake in 1923, and many animals kept in it were killed with poison. The zoo was closed when the Second World War neared. Hanayashiki was acquired and renamed "Asakusa Rakutenchi" in 1939. The, it was acquired again by Shochiku and became a joint-stock company that was operated as "Gekijo Rakutenchi" in 1941. Although Hanayashiki was closed and dilapidated during the war, it was reopened as an amusement park named "Asakusa Hanayashiki" after the war in 1947. A roller coaster, which is the oldest one in Japan, and a tall tower (the present-day Bee Tower), from which you can get a view of Asakusa, were installed in 1953 and 1960, respectively, and they are still used and popular among visitors.
For more information on the history of Senso-ji Temple, refer to"Visiting Senso-ji Temple - Talk with Senso-ji Temple.”
The entrance of former Hanayashiki. Ozan-kaku and Ryoun-kaku can be seen on the right and left background, respectively. (Around the mid-Meiji Period: Courtesy of Taito City Shitamachi Museum)
At that time, Hanayashiki was also a place where upper class people got together. You can see from the image that Hanayashiki was a modern meeting place. [Click the image to see details.]
An information map printed in the early Showa Period (Courtesy of Hanayashiki Inc.)[Click the image to see details.]
Shiawase Bridge located in the middle of the garden, which retains remnants of former Hanayashiki that was built as a flower garden.[Click the image to see details.]
[Click the image to see details.]
There is a stone monument erected for animals that were killed with poison because many sufferers from the Great Kanto Earthquake gathered in the garden.[Click the image to see details.]