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Ritsurin Garden – Visiting “Chestnuts Garden” without Chestnuts

a view of Ritsurin Garden

Ritsurin Garden is a must-visit Japanese garden in Kagawa Prefecture.  Ritsurin, written in Chinese characters, means “chestnuts woods”.  But interestingly, there is no chestnuts trees in this garden.  Instead, the garden has many pine trees and other various greens and flowers.

1. Overview of Ritsurin Garden

It seems “chestnuts woods” in old days meant a mountain covered with greens.  The garden has a history of almost four hundred years.  Since this used to be a garden of a feudal lord, the structure of the garden is typical traditional Japanese garden.  For example, it has thirteen man-made hills and six ponds.  Such hills and ponds were made so that the feudal lord could enjoy walking around, admiring the scenery.

In Japan, there are so-called three most beautiful Japanese gardens.  They are Kenroku-en Garden in Kanazawa City, Kairaku-en Garden in Mito City and Koraku-en Garden in Okayama City.  Unfortunately, Ritsurin Garden is not included among them.  However, the old schoolbook is said to claim that Ritsurin Garden was even more beautiful than those three gardens.

2. Kikugetsu-Tei Tea House

Now, let’s step inside the garden and go to Kikugetsu-tei.  This is a large-scale tea house which faces the South Pond.  And the view from here is stunningly beautiful.  You may find traditional Japanese-style boats floating on the water, carrying tourists.  Such a scenery gives you the atmosphere of old times in Japan.  

The architectural style of the tea house is called “sukiyaki-zukuri“.  It is a style often used in tea houses and residences.  And it is the origin of traditional Japanese residence which you can see today.  Since this is a tea house, you can enjoy Japanese tea and sweets here.

Kikugetsu-tei Tea House in Ritsurin Garden

Kikugetsu-tei Tea House

3. Pine Trees in Ritsurin Garden

Now, let’s go outside again and walk among the greens of the garden. Ritsurin Garden has over one thousand pine trees.  And the way they trim the trees itself is an artwork.

pine trees and white sands in Ritsurin Garden

Pine Trees in Kikugetsu-tei Tea House

Pine trees below are called as Tsuru Kame Matsu.  It means “Crane and Tortoise Pine Trees”.  People in old days saw the shape of a crane in the taller tree and a tortoise in the smaller one.  They wanted a crane and a tortoise in the garden because they are symbols of longevity.

By 663highland – from Wikipedia

Here is another interesting trimmed pine trees.  It is called as Hako Matsu.  This means pine trees with the shape of boxes.

pine trees

“Hako-matsu” pine trees trimmed in the shape of boxes

Perhaps the below photo might tell you the unique way of trimming the trees.

pine trees

Pine trees in Ritsurin Gardens

4. Heart-Shaped Azalea

There is cute azalea in the garden.  It is known as Koi Tsutsuji which means “love azalea” because as you can see, it is heart-shaped.  It must be lovely in spring. 

Heart-Shaped Azalea in Ritsurin Garden

Tokensho Island and Heart-Shaped Azalea in Ritsurin Garden

They look so lovely in spring when the azalea flowers become full in bloom with pink colour.


For More Information on Ritsurin Garden

Address: 1-20 Ritsurin-cho, Takamatsu, Kagawa Prefecture

Opening Hours: from sunrise till sunset, open throughout the year

Admission: ¥410 for adults and ¥170 for elementary and junior high school kids.

Access: 3 minute walk from JR Ritsurin Koen Kitaguchi Station, 20 minute walk from JR Ritsurin Station, for more detailed information, go to the website.

URL: https://www.my-kagawa.jp/en/ritsurin/

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