In this article, we are going to talk about the 3 Great Gardens of Japan called Nihon Sanmeien [日本三名園]. The 3 gardens called kenrokuen, korakuen and kairakuen are in distant places but are connected.
Why the 3 Big Gardens of Japan?
Are these really the 3 best, biggest or most popular Japanese gardens? Why kenrokuen, korakuen and kairakuen are linked in a group of 3 big japan gardens? Is there a reason behind all this?
In reality, both are totally different gardens, built by different people and for different purposes, but which were grouped together by the Japanese for being large in both scale and traditional aspects of a Japanese garden.
The Japanese have a custom of grouping famous things into groups of 3. For example, the 3 biggest temples, 3 biggest onsens, 3 biggest sights, 3 biggest festivals and so on. It doesn't mean that these 3 big gardens are the biggest in Japan or the most visited.
The three famous gardens express the setsugekka [雪月花] which literally means snow, moon and flowers, considered the three most beautiful aspects of nature through various seasons.
It is believed that the Kenrokuen Garden symbolizes snow, as it is quite beautiful during winter. O Korakuen Garden it is best seen during autumn symbolizing the moon. already the Kirakuen Garden symbolizes the flowers with its more than 3,000 plum blossoms.
The Famous Garden of Kenrokuen – Kanazawa
Kenrokuen Japanese Garden [兼六園] is one of the most popular and tourist gardens in all of Japan, located in Kanazawa Prefecture, it is one of the most sought after by tourists from all over the world.
Kenroku-en was developed between 1620 and 1840 by the Maeda Clan that ruled Kanazawa, then called the Kaga Domain. The name kenrokuen [兼六園] literally means “Garden of the 6 attributes”, name given by Matsudaira Sadanobu at the request of Narinaga.
The 6 attributes of Kenrokuen Garden they are spaciousness, serenity, venerability, panoramic views, subtle design and coolness. These are essential attributes for creating an ideal Japanese garden.
It was built in 1676 and is currently considered one of the most beautiful and oldest gardens in the country. It was initially created for the entertainment of nobles and their visitors, and was normally used by successive feudal lords.
It was only open to the public on special dates, but it has definitely been open to the public since 1871. What should be highlighted in this garden is the harmony and balance that exists between what was built by the hand of man and nature.
Information about Kenrokuen Garden
The garden is located outside the gates of Kanazawa Castle and covers approximately 114,436.65 m² (over 25 acres). The Garden has more than 8750 trees, 183 different species of plants that surround picturesque hills, streams, lakes, rocks, paths between bridges and tea houses.
Outside Kenrokuen Garden, you can still find a lane with cherry trees, restaurants and shops. This is a complete and amazing sightseeing tour where you can see both a beautiful garden and visit the castle of Kanazawa city.
At Kenrokuen you will find the oldest spring in Japan, operated by natural water pressure. One Pagoda Kaiseki donated to Maeda by Toyotomi Hideyoshi. The bridge of the flying goose, made of eleven red stones and more.
Another great advantage is that the Garden can provide a good experience at any time of year. In Kenrokuen Garden you can also find the famous gold-plated ice cream, which costs around ¥1,000.
The Korakuen Garden in Okayama
The Korakuen Garden It is ideal to represent the beauty of autumn. It is located north of Okayama Castle and was built in the 1700s by Ikeda Tsunamasa, incorporating the castle's surrounding hills.
Korakuen [後楽園] means garden of the “pleasure only later” referring to a Confucian saying that a wise ruler should attend to the needs of his subjects first, and only then [後] consider his own interests and pleasures [楽].
The garden was designed in the Kaiyu style that simulates a scenic walk, presenting a beautiful view at every step surrounded by lawns, lakes, hills, tea houses and many trees and plants. The Garden is located on the bank of the Aashi River and covers approximately 133,000 square meters.
The experience brings a sense of peace and tranquility to anyone who spends time walking in this garden. The Garden is surrounded by water and incorporates an internal pond with an artificial flow of 650 meters.
The Garden is huge and offers stunning views with plants azaleas, rhododendrons, as well as red and white flowers like lotus. Its maple trees are beautiful in spring, but in autumn the landscape is breathtaking, with views surrounded by red leaves between thousands of paths and bridges.
Kairakuen Garden in Mito, Ibaraki
Kairakuen Garden [偕楽園] was made to be enjoyed together, that is the meaning of its name. It was built by Tokugawa Nariaki in 1841. Unlike the other gardens in the article, it was created to be open to the public, hence the name Kairakuen.
This garden is very important, because it served as a model for other private gardens to be open to the public, living up to the name and allowing several people to enjoy the gardens together.
Kairakuen Garden is famous for over 3000 plum trees representing the spirit and colors of spring. There are more than 100 species of plum (ume) on a total of 13 hectares. Kairakuen is more of a park what garden.
The Kairakuen Garden is located on a hill in the city of Mito, its trees provide a white, pink and red color throughout. The garden also has an artificial lake called Lake Senba, filled with carp and swans.
The best time to visit Kairakuen Garden is during the spring plum season which runs from late February to April. It is also possible to appreciate azaleas, cosmos, cedar wood and a bamboo grove, in addition to traditional constructions.
What do you think about visiting the 3 big gardens?
Of course, the 3 gardens mentioned in the article are not the most important, popular or famous in Japan. In any city you can enjoy colorful landscapes, take beautiful photos and relax in the numerous gardens.
When visiting some of the 3 cities mentioned in the article, think about visit the castles and the gardens that surround them. Kenrokuen is without a doubt one of the most popular tourist attractions mentioned in this article, and you can enjoy it at any time of the year.
What did you think of the 3 great Japanese gardens? Have you had the chance to visit any of them? What are your favorite Japanese gardens? If you liked the article, don't forget to share and leave your comments.