One of japan‘s three most famous gardens, Kenrokuen Garden in Kanazawa, has a long and celebrated history. Created over several hundred years by the Maeda family, this garden is considered one of the best examples of a strolling-style Japanese landscape garden. With its six characteristics of spaciousness, seclusion, artifice, antiquity, water sources, and magnificent views, Kenrokuen stands out among other gardens in Japan.
The name “Kenrokuen” means “garden that combines six characteristics.” Each of these characteristics contributes to the unique beauty and charm of the garden. The spaciousness of Kenrokuen allows visitors to roam freely and explore the various sections of the garden. The seclusion provides a sense of tranquility and privacy, creating a peaceful atmosphere for visitors to enjoy. The artifice of the garden is evident in its carefully designed landscapes and structures, showcasing the skill and craftsmanship of the garden’s creators.
Antiquity is another characteristic of Kenrokuen, as the garden has a rich history that dates back centuries. The Maeda family, who reigned over the Kaga domain from Kanazawa Castle, began constructing the garden in 1676. Over the years, the garden has evolved and adapted to different styles and trends, making it a testament to the changing times and influences in Japanese garden design.
Water sources play a crucial role in Japanese gardens, and Kenrokuen is no exception. The garden features several ponds, streams, and waterfalls, which not only add to the aesthetics but also provide a soothing and calming ambiance. The presence of water in the garden creates a sense of harmony and balance, enhancing the overall experience for visitors.
Lastly, the magnificent views of Kenrokuen are truly breathtaking. From the cherry blossoms in spring to the vibrant colors of the autumn leaves, each season brings its own unique beauty to the garden. The cherry blossoms paint the garden in shades of pink and white, creating a romantic and enchanting atmosphere. In fall, the Japanese maple leaves turn fiery red, transforming the garden into a vibrant and mesmerizing landscape.
One of the highlights of Kenrokuen is the naturally-powered water fountain below Kasumigaike Pond. This fountain reaches an impressive height of 3.5 meters and is a sight to behold. The water gracefully shoots up into the air, creating a beautiful display that adds to the charm of the garden.
Another must-see attraction in Kenrokuen is the Seisonkaku Villa, known for its two distinct styles of Japanese architecture. Built in 1863 by Lord Nariyasu Maeda as a retirement home for his mother, this villa is a magnificent example of traditional Japanese design and craftsmanship. The main floor of the villa is built in a formal style called buke-shoin, which was meant for receiving guests. The second floor, known as sukiya-shoin, features vibrant colors and a more relaxed atmosphere, perfect for relaxation and leisure.
The Kotojitoro Lantern is another iconic symbol of Kenrokuen. Known for its unique two-legged design, this lantern adds a touch of elegance and grace to the garden. Its aesthetic appeal and historical significance make it a popular spot for visitors to admire and capture photographs.
Getting to Kenrokuen is easy, as it is conveniently located in Kanazawa and accessible by bus from Kanazawa Station. The bus ride takes approximately 20 minutes and costs 200 yen. Alternatively, JR Rail Pass holders can take the JR buses bound for Korinbo using their passes. The garden’s central location also makes it a convenient starting point for exploring other attractions in Kanazawa.
Visiting Kenrokuen is an opportunity to experience the mindfulness of samurai times. Every feature of a traditional Japanese garden can be found here, from ponds and stone lanterns to waterfalls and stone paths. These elements were carefully designed to create a natural environment conducive to meditative practices during the feudal era. Taking a leisurely stroll through the garden allows visitors to immerse themselves in the peaceful surroundings and appreciate the beauty of nature.
Kenrokuen is a garden that can be enjoyed throughout the year, with each season offering its own unique charm. In spring, visitors can witness the blooming of plum blossoms and cherry blossoms, creating a picturesque scene of delicate pink flowers against the backdrop of lush greenery. Summer brings a variety of flowers, such as azaleas, which add vibrant colors to the garden. Autumn is a particularly enchanting time to visit Kenrokuen, as the Japanese maple leaves turn vibrant shades of red and orange, creating a stunning display of colors. Winter transforms the garden into a magical wonderland, with snow-covered pine trees and illuminated trees adding a touch of romance and beauty.
One interesting feature of the garden during winter is the yukitsuri, which are ropes strung up on pine trees to support their branches under the weight of heavy snowfalls. This traditional practice helps protect the trees and maintain their shape and beauty throughout the winter months. Setting up the yukitsuri starts on November 1 and remains until around March 15, adding to the unique charm of Kenrokuen during the winter season.
Exploring the area around Kenrokuen reveals more attractions and experiences to enjoy. The garden connects to Kanazawa Castle, which is just a short walk away. Crossing the bridge outside the Ishikawa gate leads visitors to the castle, where they can further immerse themselves in the rich history and culture of the region. The pedestrian road outside of the Katsurazaka gate is lined with small restaurants and cafes, offering a variety of delicious dishes for visitors to enjoy. Kanazawa is renowned for its gold leaf production, and many cafes, shops, and museums in the area incorporate gold leaf into their offerings. Visitors can indulge in gold leaf-covered ice cream, tea, and other treats, experiencing the luxurious and artistic side of Kanazawa.
The strong presence of traditional arts and crafts in Kanazawa reflects the city’s historical connection to the Maeda family and their commitment to the arts. Several museums within walking distance of Kenrokuen offer opportunities to explore and learn more about Japanese culture and expressions of art. The 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art showcases modern artworks from both Japanese and international artists, providing a unique and thought-provoking experience. The Ishikawa Prefectural Museum of Art features a diverse collection of traditional and contemporary Japanese art, allowing visitors to appreciate the rich artistic heritage of the region. Other attractions, such as the Kaga Yuzen Kimono Center and the Kanazawa Noh Museum, provide insights into traditional Japanese crafts and performing arts.
In conclusion, Kenrokuen Garden in Kanazawa is a true gem that showcases the beauty and elegance of traditional Japanese gardens. With its six characteristics of spaciousness, seclusion, artifice, antiquity, water sources, and magnificent views, this garden offers a unique and memorable experience for visitors. Whether it’s enjoying the cherry blossoms in spring, the vibrant colors of autumn leaves, or the tranquility of a winter landscape, Kenrokuen provides something to appreciate in every season. Exploring the garden and its surroundings allows visitors to immerse themselves in the rich history, culture, and natural beauty of Kanazawa.
Address And Maps Location:
1 Kenroku-machi, Kanazawa-shi, Ishikawa-ken