Kenroku-en: Garden of Six Perfections

Kenroku-en, a magnificent park that sits in the middle of the city of Kanazawa, is said to be one of the three most beautiful gardens in Japan..

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Developed between the mid-1600s and the early 1800s, Kenroku-en is named after its “six attributes”: spaciousness, seclusion, views, water features, artifice, and artificiality (for these last two words, look to their original meanings, which had to do with manmade art). The garden is stunning, despite the crowds. We tried to visit all of its key features, which include a famous two-legged lantern …

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… the oldest fountain in Japan …

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… a teahouse built in 1774 (it’s the one in front, with the thatched roof) …266ba696-69c8-42d2-b14f-82208dd92033.jpg

… a bridge built in the shape of a flock of flying geese …

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… and Neagarinomatsu Pine, planted from seed by the 13th Lord Nariyasu in the early 1800s.

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We loved the tree roots — and the moss — on this tree:

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But what’s especially notable about this pine tree — and many others in the garden — are the thick poles used to hold up the branches.

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You end up barely being able to tell where the poles stop and the trees begin.

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This allows the garden to have pine trees with graceful, balanced shapes …

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… while also having manmade additions that are beautiful in their own right:

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Aside from the pine tree grove, the section that drew the most crowds was the plum garden.

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It’s not quite cherry blossom season in Kanazawa, but the 300 plum tree varieties are bursting into full bloom!

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The flowers are beautiful:

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My sister, mom, Prescott and I had fun running around under the trees and taking a million pictures. Here are contributions from my sister …

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… my mom …

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… and Prescott:

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The garden has classic features that you might expect in a Japanese garden, like a large pond …

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… carefully sculpted trees …

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… and a teahouse …

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… where you can join in a rushed and somewhat crowded tea ceremony …

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… and then sit and contemplate the private teahouse garden (not a warm activity in March, but I did love the little bondage rock on the walkway):

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As with any garden, it’s fun to stumble on things that you don’t expect. We found a pagoda where you can throw coins to see if they’ll land on the eaves…

… women dressed as geishas (Kanazawa was a town once famous for its geishas and geisha training centers, and it’s still one of the only places you can learn to be a geisha today — but playing geisha dress-up also a popular activity with visitors) …

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… and this cherry season mascot (who elicited different sorts of reactions from the members of our family) …

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If there’s one thing I wish I could transport back to Singapore with me, it’s the mosses, which grow on everything…

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… in all sorts of different vibrant greens:

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Should you decide to pay a visit to Kanazawa, here are five things to know before you go to Kenroku-en:

1) You have to pay an entrance fee, but it’s surprisingly cheap (about $3 USD).

2) You’ll do best to go early in the morning to avoid the crowds — it starts to get hectic shortly after 10:00.

3) This is a large garden with a lot of walking. It’s easy, all on paths that run over gentle hills. There’s good “stroll map” available in English.

4) This garden is probably at its peak at any of three times: when there’s snow on the pines, when the cherry trees are in bloom, or when the irises are out. But we didn’t manage to hit any of these, and we were still impressed.

5) Your best food options are all outside of the park. A few of the restaurants near the park entrance are upscale and require reservations for lunch. On a Sunday, we felt lucky to find a coffee shop that sold basic but yummy lunch sets:

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2 responses to “Kenroku-en: Garden of Six Perfections

  1. Pingback: Kanazawa: City of Samurais | Traveler Tina·

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