Kenrokuen: fascinating heritage garden in the middle of Kanazawa

Posted on 01/07/2015

Situated right across from Kanazawa Castle, this 11-hectare garden, with dazzling plum and cherry blossoms in spring, is renowned as one of the three most beautiful gardens in Japan. After going through the Katsura-zaka entrance, one of six entrances to Kenrokuen, a gentle slope called Katsura-zaka (Slope of the Judas tree) takes you to Kasumigaike, the biggest pond in the garden and where the iconic Kotoji stone lantern stands. There is an interesting story about this lantern: one of the lantern’s legs is shorter than the other because it was damaged when someone pushed it down during the 19th century. Instead of repairing it, they put the shorter leg on a stone and it fitted perfectly so they decided to leave it like that. After taking pictures of the lantern, we walked along the pond to where a massive Karasaki pine tree appeared in front of us. The name Karasaki originally comes from the place where the tree’s seeds were bought. In winter, ropes are attached to the tree’s branches to protect them from damage following heavy snowfall.

Walking along the irrigation channel that draws water from the Saigawa River to Kanazawa Castle, we reached Hanami-bashi (flower-viewing bridge), below which we could see a bed of shiny blue irises in full bloom. A small hill called Sazae-yama (turban-shell mountain) stands across from the Kasumigaike pond; the name of the hill reflects its shape in the form of the spiralling back of a seashell. From the top of the hill you can see Mt Utatsu in the distance. Walking down the hill, we found the fountain which is believed to be the oldest fountain in Japan.

 

We only stayed at Kenrokuen for about an hour but it’s a massive garden so if you don’t want to miss any part of it, you’ll need to set aside a good two to three hours.

Kenrokuen Gardens

Opening hours: 7:00 - 18:00 from March 1 to October 15, 8:00 - 17:00 from October 16 to February 28 

Address: 1 Kenrokumachi, Kanazawa, Ishikawa

Post code: 920-0936

Admission: Adult 310 yen, child 100 yen

Closest bus stop: Kenrokuenshita (兼六園下)