3 Famous Gardens: Kenroku-en, Koraku-en, and Kairaku-en
Kenroku-en, Kanazawa, Ishikawa. Winter 2008
"Kenroku-en" translates "Garden of the Six Sublimities," "referring to spaciousness, seclusion, artificiality, antiquity, abundant water and broad views, which according to Chinese landscape theory are the six essential attributes that make up a perfect garden. Constructed by the ruling Maeda family over a period of nearly two centuries, the garden was located next to Kanazawa Castle and was not opened to the public until 1871" (Kenrokuen Garden, japan-guide.com).
Koraku-en, Okayama. Summer 2009
Located next to Okayama castle, “Koraku-en” means “After-pleasure garden,” alluding to the Confucian belief that rulers should attend first to the needs of his people and only after those needs were met, should they take pleasure in a garden. “The local feudal lord ordered the construction of Korakuen in 1687 as a place of entertainment for the ruling family and a location for receiving important guests. Occasionally, the public was permitted to enter the garden” (Korakuen Garden, japan-guide.com).
Kairaku-en, Mito, Ibaraki. Fall 2009
Famous for its plum tees that bloom in February, “Kairakuen was built relatively recently in the year 1841 by the local lord Tokugawa Nariaki. Unlike Japan’s other two great landscape gardens Kenrokuen and Korakuen, Kairakuen served not only for the enjoyment of the ruling lord, but was open to the public. Kairakuen means ‘park to be enjoyed together’” (Kairakuen Garden, japan-guide.com).
Gardens, Kyotō and Tōkyō
Zen Garden at Tenryū-ji, Kyotō. Summer 2012
"Heavenly Dragon Temple" was named for a dragon rising from a river in a dream, which was taken to mean that the recently-deceased Emperor Go-Daigo was not resting peacefully. To placate his unhappy spirit, the temple with its Zen garden was built in 1339 by shogun Askhikaga on the former site of Go-Daigo's villa. It is now the headquarters of the Rinzai School of Zen Buddhism.
Hama Rikyu Garden, Tsukiji, Tōkyō, Spring 2014
Formerly a duck hunting site, then a residence for the Tokugawa shoguns and, after the Meiji restoration, a detached palace of the Imperial family, Hama Rikyu was donated by the family as a public park in 1946.
Kiyosumi Garden, Fukagawa, Tōkyō, Summer 2015
During the Edo period, the garden was part of the residence of a wealthy businessman, then a lord; in the Meiji period it belonged to the founder of Mistubishi Industries. In 1932, the garden was open to the public.
Gardens, North to South
Motsuji-en, Hiraizumi, Iwate. Summer 2005
Located next to Motsu temple, Motsuji-en is an example of a jodo (“pure land”) style garden popular during the Heian Period. This style of garden attempted “to recreate the Buddhist concept of the pure land or ‘Buddhist paradise.’ Like all pure land gardens, Motsuji's garden is centered around a large pond” (Motsuji Temple, japan-guide.com). A Heian Poetry Festival was taking place when we were there.
Senshu Park, Akita. Summer 2010
Senshu Park is the site of the now-ruined Kubota Castle of the Satake family. When we were ther the azaleas and wisteria were in bloom.
Genkyu-en, Hikone, Shiga. Spring 2008
Located below Hikone castle, Genkyu-en “was built in 1677 by Naooki Ii, the fourth lord of Hikone. The garden is designed in the Chisen-kaiyu style, meaning it is centered around a pond. It was modeled after the garden of the detached palace of Emperor Hsuan Tsung (685-762) of China’s Tang Dynasty” (Hikone Castle and Genkyu-en Garden, Destinations...Japan Travel Guide / The Yamasa Institute).
Ritsurin Park, Takamatsu, Kagawa, Shikoku. Summer 2009
“Ritsurin Koen is a landscape garden in Takamatsu City, built by the local feudal lords during the early Edo Period. Considered one of the best gardens in Japan, ... Ritsurin Koen deserves a spot on the list of the ‘three most beautiful gardens of Japan’ alongside Kanazawa’s Kenrokuen, Mito’s Kairakuen, and Okayama’s Korakuen.” (Ritsurin Garden, japan-guide.com).
Suizenji-en, Kumamoto. Spring 2011
Suizenji is noted of its replica of Mt. Fuji as part of a reproduction of the 53 post stations of the Tōkaidō. The day we were there, a wedding was taking place in front of the mound. Lord Hosokawa Tadatoshi began construction of the garden in 1636 as a tea retreat.
Ryoanji, Kyoto. Spring 2004
Built in the late 1400s, the rock garden at Ryōan (“Dragon Peace”) temple in Kyoto, is designed without water (karesansui = “dry landscape”). The raked gravel and rocks suggest a vast lake or ocean with islands.
Sesshu Garden, Joei-ji, Yamaguchi. Fall 2006
This rock garden was created by Zen artist Sesshu (1420-1506) during the Muromachi Period.
Kōmyō-zenji, Dazaifu, Fukuoka. Spring 2011
The rock garden is in the courtyard of Kōmyō, a Zen temple founded in 1273 by a Buddhist priest, Tetsugyu Enshin, a former nobleman of Sugawara clan. The temple is near Dazaifu Tenmangū, and its rock garden is said to be the only one on Kyūshū.
Western-Style Flower Gardens
Kawaguchiko Music Museum and Flower Garden, Yamanashi. Early Summer 2005
Western-style flower gardens are popular in Japan today. This one in Kawaguchiko feature a music museum with old music boxes and automatic musical instruments.
Hamamatsu Flower Park, Aichi. Spring 2008
Another Western-style garden with tulips and sakura, ponds, a water fountain, and a hot house of exotic plants. At night in the spring the sakura around its lake is lit-up for visitors.
Kagoshima Flower Park, Kagoshima. Spring 2011
This park at the southern tip of Satsuma peninsula features tropical and subtropical plants. Mt. Kaimon (Satsuma Fuji) rises in the distance.