How to Enjoy Kenroku-en, One of the Three Great Gardens of Japan
If one talks about model tourist spots in Kanazawa, it has to be Kenroku-en. Since it's one of the big 3 in Japan, you might know that it's a splendid park, but for those that don't know quite how to enjoy it, here are some ways to get the most out of Kenroku-en.
Kenroku-en is one of the three great gardens in Japan. It's a garden that was made by the Maeda family who were the feudal lords of Kaga domain, and was formed over around 200 years by successive generations of the family. It is representative of the type of park developed during the Edo period (1603~1867), centered around a pond and the surrounding paths. The vast inner grounds are dotted with ponds, Tsukiyama (artificial hills), and tea rooms, and you can enjoy a change in scenery with each visit, thanks to the year-round seasonal changing of its natural beauty.
Be aware of the 6 features when strolling around
Kenroku-en got its name (written with the character for "six") from the 6 features of scenery that work with each other around the park (Spaciousness, Seclusion, Artifice, Antiquity, Water Courses, and Panoramas). If you take a stroll in Kenroku-en with an awareness of these 6 features, you'll be able to enjoy it even more. The harmony inducing scenery, and the contrasting beauty, are characteristics of Kenroku-en, but its greatest trait, is the coexisting inner water courses and panoramas.
Enjoy the scenery of the season
At Kenroku-en, you can enjoy the changes that come with each season throughout the year. With the pride of the cherry blossoms in spring, the night time illumination gives a real feeling of wonder. With the vivid color of the fresh verdure in early summer, and the beautiful maple leaves of autumn, it is visited by many tourists each year. In winter, the snow-covered scenery is everywhere. Because of the snow building up in the trees, branches often break, so to prevent this, "yukitsuri" is done (ropes stretched from the top of a tree to the lower branches to prevent their breaking under heavy snow), and this has become a specialty of Kenroku-en.
There are so many highlights!
There are countless highlights within the vast grounds! So let's introduce some standard spots that can't be overlooked.
Kotoji Stone Lantern
This stone lantern is a famous symbol of Kenroku-en. The name came from its likeness to the bridge that supports the strings of the koto, a traditional musical instrument. Kasumiga-ike Pond and the lantern at the heart of the park make a scenic picture of perfect harmony, popular as a photo spot. Let's make sure to capture the memories of your trip.
Kenroku-en's 3 famous stones
In Kenroku-en, there are stones called the 3 famous stones of Kenroku-en. These include the "tiger stone," that looks like a roaring tiger, the "dragon stone" that has a shape similar to a dragon, and the "lion stone" in the shape of a lion, and they are definite highlights of the park.
※Photo of the lion stone
Neagarimatsu (Raised Roots Pine)
This is a pine tree with over 40 roots rising 2m out of the ground at a height of about 15m. It is said that it was made by planting it in soil higher than ground level, then when it had grown, the soil was taken away, leaving it in a state with the roots rising out of the ground.
A beautiful artificial hill covered on the surface by green moss. The five-tiered stone pagoda on the hillside is also a must-see.
From the panoramic lookout on the high ground within the garden, you can enjoy the scenery of central Kanazawa, Utatsuyama, the Hakusan mountain range, and the Noto peninsula.
Hisago-ike Pond and Yugao-tei
In this pond shaped like a gourd, there is a graceful waterfall with a height of 6.6m called Midoritaki. Beside Hisago-ike Pond, there is a tea house called Yugaotei and it is the oldest building in Kenroku-en.
Enjoy tea at Shigure-tei
When you get tired of walking, the perfect place for a rest is Shigure-tei. It's also possible in part to just take a look. You can enjoy a Japanese-style confection while being served some green tea or matcha tea.
Green tea (with Japanese confection) 310 JPY
Matcha tea (with Japanese confection) 720 JPY
Enjoy gourmet shopping
In Kenroku-en or in the surrounding area, there are souvenir stores and tea houses. Traditional craft products and elegant famous confections are perfect as souvenirs. At the tea houses you can also enjoy Kanazawa-style home cooking, and tea with sweets characteristic of Japan. At the Kenroku-en Miyoshian located next to Yugao-tei, there is a lunch menu (1,500 JPY (excl. tax)) with the famous Kanazawa "Jibuni" stew to enjoy. The location is extraordinary and is highly recommended.
※Photo of Kenroku-en Miyoshian
There are still many other highlights to Kenroku-en not introduced here. Please try and visit if you're ever sightseeing in Kanazawa!
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.
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