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Published on 06.07.2016
The magnificent Japanese garden Ritsurin Koen is located in one of the southern islands of Japan, Shikoku, in Takamatsu City, Kagawa prefecture. Overlooked by Mt. Shiun, this famous garden covers 75 hectares of craftsmanship balanced with nature. Construction of the garden dates back to 1620 as it was made as a strolling ground for the Ikoma family, then the daimyo (feudal lords) of Kagawa. In 1942 the land was inherited by the then ruling Matsudaira Yorishige, the grandson of the famous Tokugawa Ieyasu, and the garden was only fully completed a century later in 1745. The garden then opened for public viewing after the Meiji restoration in 1875.
One of the largest features of this landscape garden in the Nanko Pond in the south garden, with the Engetsukyo arching bridge over it. The peaceful surroundings of the pond were well enjoyed by the daimyo, and to experience the sights just as he did centuries before, hire a boat to glide through the expansive 7,900m² pond. An experienced boatman paddles you along to give a truly authentic experience of the early Edo era. Tickets for adults are 610yen, for 15 to 6 year olds 300yen and free below that age. Note that children under 3 years old aren’t allowed on boats, and children under 12 should be accompanied by at least one adult.
The Korihe-e Kuju no To is a nine-story pagoda adjacent to the Nanko pond, built in the 17th century by Kyoto-based ceramist Kita Rihee. However, the best view of the park is arguably the panorama seen on top of Hirariho on the east of Nanko pond, a hill sculpted to resemble Japan’s Mt. Fuji. This is one of the best points to fully view the magnificent 1,400 pine trees in the garden forming a green vista, though also be sure to see the Tsurukame-matsu, or “Crane and turtle pine tree”. The name of this precious tree originates from its resemblance to a crane spreading its wings on top of a turtle, making it one of the more stunning trees of many seen in the garden.
Take time to then relax in the numerous traditional tea houses dotted around the gardens. The most famous is the Kikugetsu-tei in the south garden, dating back to over three centuries. The name derives from an ancient Chinese poem line (“When I scoop up the water, I hold the moon in my hands”) and the retained Sukiya (tradition tea house) style gives a very authentic experience of how lords in the Edo era would enjoy refreshments after strolling through the gardens. For 700yen, or 500yen for children, you will be served Matcha or Sencha green tea and a Japanese sweet, which you can enjoy on the veranda overlooking the garden.
Address: 1-20-16, Ritsurin-cho, Takamatsu-city, Kagawa, Japan 760-0073
January: 7:00 to 17:00
February: 7:00 to 17:30
March: 6:30 to 18:00
April and May: 5:30 to 18:30
June to August: 5:30 to 19:00
September: 5:30 to 18:30
October: 6:00 to 17:30
November: 6:30 to 17:00
December: 7:00 to 17:30
No closing days.
Elementary and junior high: 170 yen
Admission for all is free on January 1 and March 16
By Kotoden (railway) travel to Ritsurinkoen Station from Takamatsu-Chikko Station via the Kotohira Line. The garden in a 10-minute walk.
Otherwise take the JR local train towards Tokushima from JR Takamatsu station, and get off at Ritsurinkoen-Kitaguchi Station. The garden gate is a 5-minute walk.
Parking spaces are available in the north and east side of the garden. The parking fee is 100yen per 25 minutes.
Source: Japan in HD