Top Ten Not So Famous or Hidden Gardens in Japan
Top Ten Not So Famous or Hidden Gardens in Japan: we introduce ten not-so-famous gardens in Japan. These beautiful gardens live in the shadow of the top 10.
Top Ten Not So Famous or Hidden Gardens in Japan
- Kiyosumi Teien Garden - Tokyo
- Sankeien Garden - Yokohama
- Keitakuen Garden - Osaka
- Yoshikien Garden - Nara
- Shukkei-en Garden - Hiroshima
- Encho-en Chinese Garden - Tottori
- Hori Teien - Tsuwano
- Glover Garden - Nagasaki
- Suizenji Garden - Kumamoto
- Fukushu-en Garden - Naha
Japan's parks and gardens are legendary, embodying the Japanese love of natural simplicity in a landscaping tradition inherited from China.
Besides Japan's top ten gardens, there is a multitude of memorable little walled landscapes awaiting the visitor. Here we introduce ten not-so-famous gardens in Japan. These gardens - beautiful without exception - live somewhat in the shadow of the luminaries.
Although by no means obscure, they tend to attract less visitors, so may retain more of the sense of solitude and contemplation that they were designed to inspire.
These ten not-so-top-ten gardens are located throughout Japan. Some are notable for their spaciousness, others for their intimacy, some for their quintessential Japaneseness, others for their exoticism, their kemptness or luxuriance - and all for their memorable charm.
Kiyosumi Teien Garden, Tokyo 清澄庭園
Kiyosumi Gardens are superbly laid out and are an impeccably kept jewel of Japanese landscaping. Kiyosumi Gardens are set out in what is called the sukiya style: i.e. a pond inhabited by birds and with three small islands.
In 1878 Iwasaki developed it into a garden for entertaining guests and favored employees, importing 55 massive stones from all over Japan for the landscaping. Mitsubishi donated it to Tokyo in 1932, in which year it was opened to the public. It became one of Tokyo's official Scenic Beauty Spots in 1979.
Sankeien Garden, Yokohama 三渓園
Sankeien Garden in Naka ward, Yokohama, is the city's most charming traditional attraction, with something for nature lovers, Japanese history and culture buffs, photographers, and anyone with an eye for beauty.
Sankeien Garden is 17.5 undulating hectares (over 42 acres) of groves, traditional old Japanese structures, gardens, ponds, waterfalls, bridges, refreshment spots and a museum, connected by rambling paths and footbridges.
Sankeien was established in 1902 by Yokohama businessman, Sankei Hara (1868-1939), on land passed down by his grandfather. Construction took two decades, and incorporated numerous structures of historical and cultural significance, such as ancient houses, villas, tea rooms, arbors and shrines, from all over Japan.
Keitakuen Garden, Osaka 偕楽園
Keitakuen Garden is a quite large, stroll type garden (Kaiyu-shiki-teien in Japanese) centred on a large pond.
Keitakuen was built for the very wealthy Sumitomo Family, merchants and industrialists who made their modern fortune with the Besshi Copper Mine on Shikoku.
The building that now houses the Museum of Fine Art was their main family home in Osaka and the garden was attached to it. Both the house and garden were donated to the city of Osaka by the family in 1926. The garden was designed by Ogawa Jihei (the 7th), (1860 to 1933) who many consider a pioneer of modern Japanese garden design.
Yoshikien Garden Nara 吉城園
Yoshikien Garden is a free (for foreigners) strolling garden in the center of Nara. Yoshikien Garden is located right next door to the Isuien Garden and Neiraku Museum, a short walk south of the Kaidan-in Temple in the large Todaiji temple grounds.
Yoshikien Garden is named after the small Yoshikigawa River that runs through it. The present buildings and garden date from 1919 but were transferred to Nara Prefecture in 1989.
Yoshikien Garden is made up of several types of garden: a pond garden, a moss garden and a tea ceremony flower garden.
Shukkei-en Garden, Hiroshima
Shukkei-en Garden, located in the center of Hiroshima is an Edo Period landscape garden. It deserves comparison with Kenroku-en in Kanazawa, and Koraku-en in Okayama prefectures, though on a smaller scale of 4 hectares.
Shukkei-en Garden was laid out on the instructions of Asano Nagaakira (1586-1632), the daimyo (feudal lord) of the Hiroshima han (domain) and a key ally of Ieyasu Tokugawa.
The garden at Shukkei-en was completed in 1620 and is centered around a large pond fed by the Ota River with several islets and scenic bridges.
Shukkei-en Garden has several pretty, thatched teahouses.
The name means "landscape garden in miniature" and is an imitation of West Lake in Hangzhou, China.
During the Meiji Period and the end of the feudal domain system the Asano family continued to live in the villa in the gardens until 1940 when they donated the grounds to Hiroshima city and they became a public park.
Shukkei-en Garden was badly damaged in the atomic bombing of 1945 but has been completely restored and reopened in 1951.
Encho-en Chinese Garden, Tottori 燕趙園
Covering 10,000 square meters, Encho-en, in Tottori Prefecture, is one of the largest Chinese gardens in Japan. It is a genuine Chinese garden rather than a Chinese-style garden. It was designed in China, all the materials were sourced in China, the buildings were built in China and then dismantled and shipped over, and even some of the trees came from China.
The garden is located at the southern end of Lake Togo, near the Japan Sea coast of central Tottori Prefecture. Togo Lake covers about 4 square kilometers and is brackish and shallow with a maximum depth of about 7 meters.
Many waterfowl stop here in winter and there are several parks on its shore. Canoes can be rented for further exploration. Immediately adjacent to Encho-en Garden is a large hot spring, Togo Onsen, and on the western shore of the lake is Hawai Onsen with many hotels.
Hori Teien, Tsuwano 旧堀氏庭園
Hori Teien is the estate of the Hori family in the small settlement of Muraki about 10 km west of Tsuwano in Shimane, and is well worth a visit if you are interested in Edo Period manor houses and traditional gardens.
About 300 years ago the Tokugawa Shogunate claimed the area as theirs as there was a small copper mine here and they installed their loyal vassals the Hori family to oversee it. The Hori were known as The Mining Kings as they also oversaw the nearby silver mine Iwami Ginzan.
The manor house burnt down in 1788, so the current manor house dates from this time. The whole house is open to visitors, including the huge kitchen, bathroom, etc and in an ancillary building is a small collection of historical artifacts including the obligatory suit of samurai armor.
Glover Garden, Nagasaki グラバー園
The Glover Garden area in Nagasaki is a collection of western homes and buildings reassembled around the house of the Scottish entrepreneur Thomas Blake Glover (born Fraserburgh, Scotland 1838 - died in Tokyo 1911).
Glover came to Japan at age 21 and never left. Glover worked in shipbuilding, coal (including opening up the mining island of Gunkanjima), arms dealing and brewing, ultimately being awarded the Second Class Order of the Rising Sun. Glover supported the opposition to the Tokugawa regime and was well placed when they came into government in 1868.
The house and grounds of Glover Garden sit atop a hill that commands a view of the Nagasaki Bay and the entire city - and speak of a bygone era of fabulous luxury, when the area of Minami-yamate was a thriving foreign settlement. Indeed the house is believed to be the setting and inspiration for Puccini's opera Madame Butterfly.
Suizenji Garden, Kumamoto 水前寺成趣園
A short tram or train ride southeast of Kumamoto Castle is Kumamoto's Suizenji Garden. Originally a temple, this beautiful strolling garden and tea arbor in Kumamoto was built over a period of 80 years from 1632 by three successive Hosokawa feudal lords. Suizenji Garden now covers an area of 64.6 hectares.
Views of the 53 Stations of the Tokaido were made famous by such wood-block print artists as Hiroshige and were known and familiar to the general public, even if they had never visited them in person themselves.
Fukushu-en Garden, Okinawa Prefecture 福州園
Fukushu-en Garden was opened in 1992 to commemorate ten years of friendship with Naha's sister city in China, Fuzhou. Indeed, most of the wood and stone used in the construction of Fukushu-en was brought from Fuzhou.
Fukushu-en Garden is an authentic, walled Chinese garden laid out by Chinese and Okinawan gardeners and symbolizes Okinawa's historic trade and cultural links with the Chinese mainland.
The garden is set out around a large koi carp and turtle-stocked lake that stretches throughout the grounds. Fukushu-en includes areas of spring scenery, summer scenery and autumn and winter scenery set in separate sections.
Typical features of Chinese gardens included in Fukushu-en include the use of borrowed scenery, strikingly-shaped rocks and the magnificent waterfall.
Buildings in Fukushu-en Garden include two pagodas, traditional Chinese keyhole gates, a statue of the Chinese poet Li Bai and numerous pavilions and bridges.