Sunday, 22 July 2012

One Of Three Most Beautiful Gardens In Japan

is located in Takamatsu and the garden is Ritsurin koen.

We visited the beautifully landscaped garden after our visit to Shikoku Mura. So, after about 3 hours' worth of walking around the open-air museum, we took a train to get to Ritsurin Koen (funny that a few fellow tourists, Japanese tourists; I might add - followed us from the station to the Garden! I'm starting to think that Japanese are directionally challenged. heh heh)

Anyways, as always - some background info of the garden :
The garden is the largest National Special Scenic Beauty garden (there is such category??? Yes... and there are 194 such gardens registered in Japan) and is made up of 6 ponds and 13 hills, located on the slopes of Mount Shiun.

While Ritsurin actually means "chestnut grove", the garden is mainly planted with pine trees. The chestnut trees, which once used as a provision against famine were removed from the area because the trees were a hindrance to the duck-hunting parties that were held there. Such frivolity. tsk tsk. Must be nice to be all powerful and wealthy, back then and now.

The garden was built in the 1600s (1600!!!) and was completed a century later in 1745! The southwestern area of the current garden was originally carved out in the 1570s by the Sato family, a local ruling family. Later, Lord Ikoma Takatoshi continued with development in the area surrounding Nanko Lake at around the year 1625 and the expansion was taken over by an elder brother of Tokugawa Mitsukuni; Lord Matsudaira Yorishige in 1642. It was completed in 1745 by the 5th successive lord, Lord Matsudaira Yoritaka one hundred years later!

The garden used to serve as a private villa estate for 11 lords of the Matsudaira family for 228 years up to the Meiji restoration, which with the abolition of the han feudal clam system in 1871, the estate fell into the possession of the Meiji government and became a prefectural park on 16th March 1875. It has been open to public ever since.

Nice to know a bit of the history before we lap up the physical beauty of the garden, no?

Some random photos we took around the garden first. I'm thinking of doing another series of detailed post (much like what I did for Shikoku Mura) for Ritsurin koen. Each section of the garden has its own story and background and I feel it's a pity if I just crammed them all up in one post!

Autumn colour photos ahead  and here it goes!
I guess we had a really tiring day walking around that day. We walked all morning around Shikoku Mura, arrived around noon at Ritsurin Koen and when we finished our stroll in the garden, we went for our sanuki udon late lunch at 4.00pm! Raimie was (and still is) such an angel for putting up with such sadistic parents. huahaha

Sadistic parents took pity on him later, and he didn't tag along when the two crazies went out for a stroll again later that evening. All this on top of my 6K run before the sun rises that day. I really know how to beat-up my legs. It's a wonder I still walk normal the next day (and run too!)

29 comments:

  1. Reminds me of my trip there in 2009. I like the park and it is a bit difficult to find from the station, from my memory.

    The 4th picture down is near the back of the park, right? That red cliff in the back was modeled after the cliff of the same name in China. It was part of the epic Chinese movie "Red Cliff"... Very imaginative. It was a nice place but I only had motorcycle boots when I visited Shikoku. Needless to say, it was very hard to walk around at that time. I also got stuck at the train station for nearly an hour because I miss read the timetable and one of the trains I was waiting for was running on weekends only!

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    1. Dru, Ru is confused!

      If you're wearing motorcycle boots and therefore, presumably, motorbiking ... what are you doing at a train station?! o_0

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    2. I was motorbiking. I did a tour from Tokushima and around the island and back again. I left my bike at the hotel because I didn't want to bother looking for and paying for parking. Plus I was a bit tired of riding.

      I also took the train to Kotohira and walked to the inner shrine at Konpirasan. Thousands of steps but at least the weather wasn't hot.

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    3. Your memory is correct... and that's the reason we were "trailed" by fellow visitors who wanted to get to the garden too. ;p I guess we looked like we know where we were going.

      Thanks for the info on the cliff. ^^

      Waiting for an hour for a train and you didn't fidget? So what happened after the waiting? You walked? Biked? Taxied?

      Thousand of steps in motorcycle boots! @.@

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    4. Actually it's very easy to find Ritsurin from pretty much almost anywhere in town: go towards the hill (Shiun-zan) that's closest to downtown. ;-)

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    5. It's the gate... the whereabouts of the Garden is pretty easy to locate. At least for me. ^^

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    6. When I went, I think the signs pointing from the station to the garden was a little hard to find. I remember seeing a foreign girl looking lost and I was going by my memory to find the place.

      Waiting for an hour? We already bought a ticket before entering the station. There is no attendant so we couldn't even attempt to get a refund. We would have walked back if we knew that. Instead, we just sat there and waited.

      Okay, maybe not thousands of steps but it felt like it. ;) Over 1000 for sure... actually... not too sure. Pretty sure though.

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    7. You were pretty patient, regardless. ;p

      Steps wise - I'd take two-storey worth of stairs and feel it's a thousand steps! LOL

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    8. OK, I passed by the JR Ritsurin station yesterday, I thought of you guys and indeed the garden is not very easy to find from that station (and some buildings hide Shiun-san). Actually, I think it may be confusing a lot of tourists that this station is called Ritsurin.
      Also, I think that a common mistake (foreign?) tourists make when they visit Takamatsu is to use the JR train. It is sure convenient to go to and from Takamatsu, but within Takamatsu, not so useful.
      Kotoden (the local company) is the train to take, and indeed the Kotoden Ritsurin Station is very close to the park (I wouldn't be surprised if some tourist guides also confuse both stations).

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    9. The tram looks farther away. Guess that serves me right. Next time I go, if I even go to the park, I'll take the tram. I doubt it is just a foreign tourist mistake though.

      Hope to make it to Takamatsu next year. The big art festival in the Seto Inland Sea is being held for the first time in 3 years. Would really love to visit it and spend several days seeing all of the islands.

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    10. Judging by the number of similarly lost looking Japanese behind us, I agree with Dru. Not only foreign tourists mistake. The station's name may contribute to the confusion.

      I usee JR because well, JR pass covers it. ;p

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    11. Dru, there's no tram in Takamatsu. If you're looking for one, you may waste a lot of time. Just saying. :-)

      If you use JR because of JR Pass, it's better to get off at Ritsurinkoenkitaguchi, which like its name says is right next to the North Gate (not the main one). However it's a small station, so I'm not sure how many trains stop there.

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    12. So it is a train? I saw "Kotoden" and assumed it was a tram. Plus from memory, couldn't remember which it was. I stand corrected. ^^

      When I went, I went to Ritsurinkoen Kitaguchi station. There is no attendant and just a vending machine for tickets. Not even a gate. Very few trains stop there though, hence the 1 hour wait. At least it wasn't raining at that time.

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    13. Yep, Kotoden is a local train company.
      And yeah, Ritsurinkoenkitaguchi is a fairly small station (I never actually went to it, I have no use of JR within Takamatsu, Kotoden is the way to go within town to take the train, especially if you don't have a JR Pass)
      Next time you'll know. :-)

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    14. Noted. Hopefully I'll be there next year if I can fit it in my schedule. ^^

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  2. This Japanese Garden should be ranked among Japan's top three (日本三名園) with Kenroku-en in Kanazawa, Koraku-en in Okayama and Kairaku-en in Mito. I consider it to be one of the finest stroll gardens in Japan.

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    1. So, J.A., what's best: a stroll garden or a beer garden? ;)

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    2. How about a Japanese beer-strolling garden? ;p

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    3. A stroll garden is best early in the morning or just after lunch for a bit of zen then you head to the beer garden to exercise the arms and drink a few pints :)

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    4. Couldn't you just bring a few beers into the garden and enjoy them as you walk? If it is that wrong, just use a paper bag or pour the beer into a different cup. ;)

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  3. Autumn. Gardens. Cobalt blue sky. Red leaves. Plus, just to make a doting obachan really happy, photos of Raimie.

    I loved (of course) reading the history of the garden. It took a century to complete? I started smiling when I read that. Oh, Japan, I really love you very much.

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    1. The photos there were chosen for a specific purpose, and I'm glad to know that it met its purpose. ^^

      Yeah, isn't Japan just wonderful? :)

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  4. Did you buy Raimie some toys/junk food for being such a good boy? I use bribes for my son when making him follow me around craft stores. I love the autumn colours of the leaves.

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    1. For this time... no.

      But he got to choose a nice (and expensive) ekiben to eat the next day. ;p

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  5. "One of the three"?
    Foolishness!
    It's the most beautiful, period! ;-)

    Actually, if I was not so tired and if it was not so hot, I'd go this afternoon. ;-)

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    1. I reserve my judgement as I've yet to visit the other two. That can be called another foolishness, on my part. I know. ;p

      Share some photos if you do go! :)

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    2. What are the other two supposed to be?

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    3. Kenrokuen & Korakuen (correct spelling?)

      Actually, I lied. I visited Kenrokuen a few years back. A visit cut short because of rain. :(

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  6. It is impressive! Had built more than 400 years!!!!!! @0@

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