Japanese gardens are completely different from UK and French gardens. On this page, I would like to introduce representative gardens in Japan. When you look at overseas sightseeing guide books, Adachi Museum of Art is often introduced as a beautiful Japanese garden. Of course the Adachi Museum is surprisingly beautiful in the landscape. However, not only Adachi Museum of Art is a beautiful Japanese garden. If you come to Japan, please enjoy other beautiful Japanese garden by all means. On this page, I will introduce five representative Japanese gardens. The charm of the Japanese garden can not be told with one movie. Better yet, it is very difficult to convey charm with a single picture. This is because the gardens change their atmosphere every moment according to changes in the four seasons in Japan and changes in day and night brightness. Sometimes deep thought is put in the entire garden like Kairakuen and Katsura Rikyu. So, on this page, I will introduce as many photos as possible. I am happy if you can see it as if you see an art book.
Click on each map to see related tour and nearby activity information on a separate page.
Table of Contents
- Best japanese garden: Kairakuen (Mito City, Ibaraki Prefcture)
- Best japanese garden: Kenrokuen (Kanazawa City, Ishikawa Prefecture)
- Best japanese garden: Katsura Rikyu (Katsura Imperial Villa, Kyoto)
- Best japanese garden: Adachi Museum (Yasugi Town, Shimane Prefecture)
- Best japanese garden: Korakuen (Okayama City, Okayama Prefecture)
Best japanese garden: Kairakuen (Mito City, Ibaraki Prefcture)
Kairakuen is said to be the three best gardens in Japan with Kenrokuen and Korakuen which I introduce on the bottom of this page. Kairakuen is located in Mito (Ibaraki Prefecture) about 100 km north of Tokyo. The area is about 300 hectares. Its size is the second largest in the world next to Central Park in New York as a city park. This garden was built in 1842 by Nariaki TOKUGAWA who governed this area. Nariaki is the father of Yoshinobu TOKUGAWA who later became the last Shogun of the TOKUGAWA shogunate. Nariaki was a very knowledgeable and intelligent person. He put his thought in this garden. He thought that everything has light and shadow. So in this garden, the area for a while from the entrance is dark and deep silence drifts. Beyond that there is an area that is bright and has a nice view. He wanted to enjoy this garden with the people. So about 3,000 plum trees of about 100 species were planted so that people would be delighted. A plum festival will be held from late February to late March each year. In this garden, in addition, cherry blossoms and azaleas in spring, hagi in autumn, cherry blossoms (varieties blooming twice a year) in early winter will welcome you.
Well then, please enter Kairakuen from the gate below.
Best japanese garden: Kenrokuen (Kanazawa City, Ishikawa Prefecture)
Kenrokuen is a Japanese garden of about 12 hectares located in Kanazawa (Ishikawa). It is a wonderful garden that was chosen as the best three star by the Michelin tour guide. This garden was built by Maeda family who dominated this area in 1676. The Maeda family had the second biggest territory behind the Tokugawa family who ruled Japan at that time. However, in order not to be enemy from the Tokugawa family, the Maeda family ‘s successive lords paid attention to culture regardless of Japanese politics. As a result, a cultural garden representing Japan was born. That is Kenrokuen. Kenrokuen was a garden of the lord, but the period of the Tokugawa shogunate ended in the latter half of the 19th century and it became publicly available.
The biggest charm point of Kenrokuen is the scenery which changes according to the change of the four seasons in Japan. Because Kanazawa faces the Sea of Japan, snow has fallen well in the winter due to the moist air coming from the Sea of Japan. For this reason, this garden becomes pure white with snow in winter. At that time, skilled gardeners connect the rope to the branches and support the branches so that the trees will not break due to the weight of the snow. This beautiful Japanese garden is maintained with such delicate consideration.
When spring comes, trees grow beautiful fresh green and shine. In the summer, Kenrokuen is covered with slimy green. In autumn, bright red leaves color the garden.
Among the Japanese gardens, this garden is my favorite. If you go to this garden, you will be able to sense the elegant culture of Japanese nobles. Bruno Taut, an architect representing the 20th century, also praised the Katsura Rikyu.
Katsura Rikyu was built by the royal family Hachijo-nomiya Toshihito (brother of Emperor Goyozei) in the 17th century. It is now called Rikyu (Imperial Villa), but at that time it was a villa owned by Toshihito. After that, his descendants protected this villa. Katsura Rikyu has never been a fire. This Rikyu will teach us the culture of Japanese aristocracy in real.
In the pond of this garden, water is drawn from the neighboring Katsura River. The nobles played with a small boat on the pond. There are wooden houses around the pond. Every house is simple, but very graceful and intellectual. The large windows of the houses are open to the garden, which shows that former nobles enjoyed living in harmony with nature.
Currently, Katsura Rikyu is managed by the Imperial Household Agency of the government. In order to see the garden, you need to make a reservation in advance. In the past, children under the age of 18 could not enter, but recently junior high school students and high school students were allowed to admission. You can also go and book directly on the day. From 11 o’clock every morning, numbered tickets will be distributed in order of arrival. However, the reservation fills quickly. Again I recommend you to make a reservation on the internet. For more information on Katsura Rikyu, please click here.
Best japanese garden: Adachi Museum (Yasugi Town, Shimane Prefecture)
Adachi Museum is a private art museum in Shimane Prefecture, western Japan. This museum owns a lot of wonderful Japanese paintings such as Yokoyama Taiki and Uemura Shoen. On the other hand, they have extensive Japanese gardens, and their gardens have been highly appreciated in recent years. The journal “Journal of Japan Gardening” specialized in the Japanese garden in the United States has evaluated Adachi Museum’s garden as the best in Japan. Of course, this museum has also acquired Michelin’s three stars.
The charm point of the Adachi Museum garden is in that it is thoroughly beautifully managed to the details. There are six gardens in this museum. Visitors watch those gardens through the window from inside the museum building. The garden looking out from the window is delicate like a beautiful painting and it is high in completeness.
When I interviewed the director of this museum before, he laughed and said, “In the staff recruitment test, we also have a test to clean with a broom.” Depending on how the candidate cleanses, they check whether the candidate can carefully protect the garden.
I think that this episode informs exactly how Adachi Museum carefully maintains their garden. They clean every morning thoroughly by all the staff before opening. Of course, the gardeners maintain the garden early in the morning, but the staff other than the gardener also keeps their hearts and makes their garden beautiful.
To Adachi Museum you have to go by bus or taxi from Yonago Airport or Izumo Airport. It is a very inconvenient place to say clearly. Still the people who visited are all highly satisfied because the staff share the spirit of a wonderful hospitality.
Korakuen is located in the center of Okayama city, opposite Okayama castle across the river. This garden was built for Tsunamasa IKEDA which was Okayama castle owner in the latter half of the 17th century. There is a large pond in the park, around which there are wooden houses such as tea room and Noh stage.
Korakuen has been told that it is the best three gardens in Japan with Kairakuen of Mito and Kenrokuen of Kanazawa for a long time. Even in the Michelin tour guide, Korakuen has won three stars. This garden has an area of approximately 13.3 hectares and it is very spacious. If you go to Korakuen, take a leisurely walk while watching Okayama Castle on the other side.
When I first went to Korakuen, I was a little puzzled to be honest. There is no change from the dark to the bright place like Kairakuen. In winter, snowy scenery can not be seen like Kenrokuen. However, as I went to Korakuen several times, I gradually came to like this garden. Korakuen is filled with a very peaceful atmosphere. Okayama prefecture has a temperate climate. Korakuen which was built in the Tokugawa shogunate period, when Japan was very peaceful, is still moderating people who visit with a peaceful landscape.
Since Korakuen and Okayama castle are connected by a bridge, please go to Okayama castle if you like. I think that the scenery of Korakuen which you see from the tower of Okayama castle also remembered.
See also the following articles.
Now, let’s plan to make your vacation in Japan the best experience ever!