The beautiful last vestige of a great clan’s power
If you are looking for an adventure into remote mountains to discover hidden beauty and samurai history, Kitabatake Garden, located within Kitabatake-jinja Shrine in the mountains of Mie, will make your day. This serene garden has a surprisingly bloody history. In the 14th century, the Kitabatake clan ruled the area. At the time, japan was divided by two competing courts in the north and south, and the Kitabatake were allied with the latter. Their tight grip on power, however, came to an end when the warlord Oda Nobunaga swept through with his forces and subjugated the area. The Kitabatake only retained their prominence when the head of the family, Kitabatake Tomonori, married his daughter to Nobunaga’s son, Nobukatsu. However, peace would not last long. Five years later, Nobukatsu launched a disastrous invasion of neighboring Iga Province in a failed attempt to prove his prowess as a military commander. When his father, Nobunaga, sent in troops to clean up the mess, he wiped out the Kitabatake clan in the process.
Today, this garden is the only physical reminder of the Kitabatake clan’s former glory. One of only three major samurai gardens still in existence, it features ponds spanned by small bridges and ancient stone lanterns. Each season offers its own beautiful, thought-provoking scenery. If you have the time, a pleasant walk up the low mountain behind the garden offers a panoramic view from its summit.
How to Get There
To reach Kitabatake Garden, you can make the trip by train and then by taxi, or rent a car. Although the location is remote, once you get to Ise-okitsu Station on the JR Meisho Line, you can take a five-minute taxi ride to reach the garden. Reaching Ise-okitsu Station takes about three hours from Nagoya on the Kansai Main Line and Kisei Main Line. The journey from Kyoto or Osaka is more complex, involving a combination of Kintetsu and JR trains that takes between three and four hours. Renting a car is a nice option, especially because of the drive.
If you decide to visit Kitabatake Garden, you don’t want to miss the opportunity to explore the history of the samurai. This hidden gem is off the beaten path and offers a chance to ponder the dramatic events that happened in such a serene setting. It’s a unique experience that combines natural beauty with historical significance.
As you wander through the garden, you can’t help but feel a sense of awe and reverence for the samurai who once walked these grounds. The peaceful setting belies the violent past that unfolded here. The Kitabatake clan’s power may have faded over the centuries, but their legacy lives on in this beautiful garden.
The garden itself is a testament to the skill and craftsmanship of the samurai. The ponds, bridges, and lanterns are all meticulously designed and maintained. Each element has a purpose and a story to tell. It’s a place where you can truly immerse yourself in the rich history of Japan and appreciate the artistry of the samurai.
A rare samurai garden
Kitabatake Garden is one of only three major samurai gardens still in existence. The other two are Kenrokuen in Kanazawa and Kairakuen in Mito. These gardens are considered national treasures and are protected by the government. They offer a glimpse into the world of the samurai and the values they held dear.
In Japanese culture, gardens are often seen as a reflection of the natural world. They are designed to evoke a sense of harmony and tranquility. Kitabatake Garden is no exception. As you walk through its paths and take in the sights and sounds of nature, you can’t help but feel a sense of peace and serenity.
Each season brings its own unique beauty to the garden. In spring, the cherry blossoms bloom and create a stunning display of pink and white. In summer, the lush greenery provides a cool respite from the heat. In autumn, the leaves turn vibrant shades of red, orange, and gold. And in winter, the garden is transformed into a winter wonderland, with snow-covered trees and frozen ponds.
Exploring the garden
When you visit Kitabatake Garden, be sure to take your time and explore all that it has to offer. Start by walking along the winding paths and crossing the small bridges that span the ponds. Take a moment to stop and admire the ancient stone lanterns that line the paths. These lanterns were once used to light the way for the samurai who walked these grounds.
As you make your way through the garden, you’ll come across several tea houses where you can stop for a rest and enjoy a cup of traditional Japanese tea. These tea houses are a great place to relax and take in the beauty of the garden. The tranquil atmosphere and the sound of running water create a peaceful ambiance that is perfect for reflection and contemplation.
If you have the time, I highly recommend taking a walk up the low mountain behind the garden. From its summit, you can enjoy a panoramic view of the surrounding mountains and valleys. It’s a great way to get a different perspective on the garden and appreciate its place in the natural landscape.
In conclusion, Kitabatake Garden is a hidden gem that offers a unique opportunity to explore the history of the samurai in a beautiful and peaceful setting. Whether you’re a history buff or simply looking for a serene escape from the hustle and bustle of city life, this garden is well worth a visit. So, if you find yourself in the mountains of Mie, make sure to take the time to discover the last vestige of a great clan’s power.
Address And Maps Location:
1148 Misugicho Kamitage, Tsu-shi, Mie-ken