The Kenrokuen Garden located in Kanazawa City comprise two of the three great gardens in Japan along with the Korakuen Garden in Tokyo.
Kenrokuen actually translates to Six Attributes Garden and it once formed the outer garden of Kanazawa Castle. The garden was expanded over the years and opened to the public in 1871. For a small admission fee, visitors can enjoy the expansive 25 acres filled with a variety of trees, ponds, waterfalls and flowers.
Some of the major areas of focus during your visit should include the Kotoji Lantern, the Kasumiga-ike (Pond), the Karasaki Matsu, the Gankou-bashi (Bridge), the Kaisekito Pagoda, the Midori-taki (Green Waterfall) and last but not least, the fountain.
The Kotoji Lantern is easy to spot as it stands on two legs in Kasumiga-ike. The lantern is a modified version of the Yukimi Lantern, which is used to light up the surface of the water. The pond and trees surrounding the lantern make this a very scenic and popular spot in Kenrokuen.
Kasumiga-ike is the largest pond in Kenrokuen. In addition to the Kotoji Lantern, you will find the Uchihashi-tei tea house, the Niji-bashi (Rainbow Bridge), the Karasaki Matsu and Horai Island.
The Karasaki Matsu is a black pine tree, which was planted by the 13th Lord Nariyasu. It is said that he brought the seed from the shores of Lake Biwa, the largest freshwater lake in Japan, located in Shiga Prefecture (west-central Honshu). The tree has beautiful sprawling branches supported by posts to protect them from breaking, especially during the winter when there is heavy snowfall in the region.
Gankou-bashi is a bridge made of 11 tomuro stones laid out to look like geese flying in formation. It is also called Tortoise Shell Bridge because of the shape of each step.
The 13-ft. tall Kaisekito Pagoda stands on an island in the center of Hisago-ike, another pond within Kenrokuen. Its six tiers are covered with moss and the stones have a worm-eaten look to them.
Near the pagoda you will see the Midori-taki. The fall is formed by water flowing out of Kasumiga-ike into Hisago-ike.
Finally standing at approximately 12 feet high is the garden’s fountain, purported to be the oldest fountain in Japan. Water from Kasumiga-ike feeds the fountain and it is said that its development was for the purpose of sending water to the secondary closure of the castle.
The beauty and tranquility found in a Japanese garden is unmatched and what better place to observe this for yourself other than one of the two great gardens in the country? The garden is open to the public from: 7:00 AM – 6:00 PM (March 1 to October 15) and 8:00 AM – 4:30 PM (October 16 to the end of February).
The garden is located at: 1-1 Marunouchi, Kanazawa, Ishikawa.
Photo Credits: Umezawa, Eiji