Japan is famous for many things: its huge cities (here’s looking at you, Tokyo!), delicious food, amazing technology, as well as cultural and historical sites. But have you ever you considered putting Japanese Gardens on your dream travel itinerary? Japanese gardens are carefully arranged to provide space for peace and reflection. They strike a careful balance between natural elements – ponds, streams, rocks, trees and flowers, and man-made elements – bridges, decorative fences, lanterns and fountains.
Celebrating the seasons is very important in Japan, and gardens are typically designed to be enjoyed all year round. Blossoming trees and flowers can be enjoyed in spring, followed by lush green scenery in summer. As trees turn orange and leaves begin to fall the gardens present spectacular autumn vistas. As Japan can get very cold, in winter you can treat your eyes to snowy landscapes.
To make sure you get the most out of your visit, try visiting on weekdays rather than weekends, and aim for early in the morning. Japan is a busy country, and popular places can get rather crowded.
Kenroku-en in Kanazawa
This beautiful and spacious garden covers 11 hectares providing plenty of interesting things to look at. It boasts the oldest water fountain in the country, powered by the natural water pressure of the large pond. While admiring the stunning pond, look for the stone lantern on its edge, which is a symbol of the garden. We’d recommend stopping to enjoy a drink in one of the teahouses – in this garden you’ll find an historic teahouse which was built in 1774!
Once you’ve finished exploring this lovely garden, you could also visit Kanazawa Castle and Park, which is situated right next door – handy!
Kairaku-en in Mito
Kairaku-en is well-known as a great spot to view Japan’s iconic pink plum tree blossoms – in fact, there’s even a special festival dedicated to them from 20 February – 31 March. The trees are illuminated at night and there’s often cultural events you can participate in.
Although the garden is famous for its plum trees, be sure to check out the bamboo and cedar forests. You can stroll along a stream within the park, or go for a walk along Senba Lake and see which wild birds you can spot.
Koraku-en in Okayama
Right by the Aashi River is Koraku-en: 14 hectares of ponds, grassy landscapes and flowers. You can view many different types of flowers including peonies, lotus flowers, daffodils and azaleas. Cherry blossom fans can enjoy 280 blossoming Yoshino trees inside and around the gardens in April and in February there are breath-taking lovely views of blossoming plum trees.
From within the garden, you can see Okayama Castle, a reconstruction of the original castle built in 1597 – well worth a visit after your time in the garden.