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【Ishikawa】 Kenrokuen, one of the three most beautiful gardens in Japan2015.03.25

03/25 兼六園

Kenrokuen,”  regarded as one of the three most beautiful gardens in Japan, is located in the center of Kanazawa city in Ishikawa prefecture. The garden is huge and more of a park with various features. They include ponds, streams, a waterfall, a fountain, bridges, hills, lanterns and tea houses. Along these, a variety of trees are planted such as azalea, camellia, cherry, pine and plum trees. Visitors can enjoy an impressive view of seasonal natural beauty throughout the year.

The garden is designed to be enjoyed by walking. This compares with the other type of garden where visitors sit and appreciate the scenery from fixed places and buildings like temples. Walkers can take a rest with traditional Japanese tea at old-fashioned tea houses. It takes about 90 minutes to go round the 1.3-kilometer walking course with every feature of the garden.

Spring may be the best season to visit the garden with iris, plum and cherry trees blooming among other flowers. In winter, guests can enjoy the snow-covered landscape and the unique practice of “yukitsuri” which attaches many ropes to tall pine trees in a conical shape to protect their branches from heavy snows. Of many places of interest, Kotoji stone lantern is the most famous and often considered as the symbol of Kenrokuen. The lantern, located on the north side of the main pond of Kasumigaike, has two legs resembling the bridge of the Japanese harp “koto”.

Originally, Kenrokuen was the outer garden of Kanazawa Castle, which lies next to it. It was developed as a private garden by the local feudal lords of Kaga from the 17th century in the Edo Period. The garden was fully opened to the public in 1874. Kenrokuen literally means a garden with six attributes. The ancient Chinese book of gardens stipulated that a perfect garden should have the six characteristics of spaciousness, seclusion, artifice, antiquity, watercourses and panoramas. The garden was designated as a National Site of Special Scenic Beauty in 1985, the most honorable rank for national monuments and sites.

Visitors of Kanazawa are expected to increase sharply with the opening of the Hokuriku Shinkansen on March 14. The bullet train connects Tokyo and Kanazawa in just less than two and a half hours.

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