Ritsurin Koen: The Art of Japanese Gardens

“No matter how much time passes, no matter what takes place in the interim, there are some things we can never assign to oblivion, memories we can never rub away.”

-Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore

The memory of Ritsurin Koen is etched into my mind. Time has gone by but I feel as though I visited this splendid place just yesterday. Ritsurin Koen is one of the best landscape gardens Japan. Located in Takamatsu, the garden offers visitors peaceful and stunning views: pathways up and down small hills and across beautiful bridges. Visitors can also take a boat ride through the South Pond for ¥610 and take a break in one of the many rest houses scattered across the garden.

Murakami’s Kafka on the Shore put the city of Takamatsu on my map way before I traveled to Japan the summer of 2015. Located on Japan’s Shikoku island, Takamatsu is the capital of the Kagawa prefecture. The city serves as one of the entry points into the island from the main Honshu island.

A wide path greets visitors from the east gate entrance to the park / Photo by Alexandra Pamias

Ritsurin Koen, which translates to “chestnut grove garden,” dates back to 1625 when Daimyo Ikoma Takatoshi ordered it’s construction. In 1875, the Meji government designated it a prefectural garden and opened it to the public.

(To read more about the history of Ritsurin Koen, please visit the garden’s website here)

Gardens are considered an art and are places of meditation and spirituality in Japanese culture. Ritsuring Koen radiates the peace that many seek in these unique locations.

(Japanese gardens follow strict basic rules. To read more about this click here)

One of the many bridges that connect the serene footpaths of the garden / Photo by Alexandra Pamias

A boat ride on the South Pond of the garden is a great way to experience the garden the way that the feudal lords of the past would. The price for adults is ¥610 and ¥300 for children.

Visitors glide along the South Pond / Photo by Alexandra Pamias

One of the most picturesque lookout views is located in the South Garden. Visitors climb a small hill to reach the Hiraiho lookout and get to marvel and the scene in front of them: Mt. Shiun in the distance, Engetsukyo bridge gracefully connecting the two sides of the pond and multiple tea houses nestled in the natural greenery.

The view from the Hiraiho lookout / Photo by Alexandra Pamias

Fancy a stop for tea and sweets? The Kikugetsu-tei, a 300-year-old traditional Japanese sukiya-style teahouse, has stunning views of the South Pond. Kikugetsu-tei translates to “Moon Scooping Pavilion” a name that comes from an old Chinese poem:

“When I scoop up the water, I hold the moon in my hands.

Kikugetsu-tei located on the South Pond / Photo by Alexandra Pamias

Below I have added a series of photographs I took during my stroll through Ritsurin Koen. The garden’s official map is located at the bottom of this post with a couple of websites I recommend visiting to learn more about this gem.

A far as the eye can see / Photo by Alexandra Pamias
Gardeners up keeping Ritsurin Koen / Photo by Alexandra Pamias
A crane and koi fish, staples of Japanese culture and art / Photo by Alexandra Pamias
Two friendly turtles popped out of the water to say hello / Photo by Alexandra Pamias
Asymmetrical bridge in the garden / Photo by Alexandra Pamias


Please visit the following websites:

Ritsurin Koen’s official website

Japan-Guide.com’s page on the garden

Ritsurin Koen official map / Located on the garden’s official website

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