There is something about Japanese gardens that can be quite hard to explain to those who have never been to one. What makes them so special, so different from other gardens around the world? To answer that question, one needs to experience the garden for themselves.
Ritsurin Garden, designated as one of Japan’s National Scenic Beauty, is a Japanese garden located in Kagawa Prefecture of Shikoku Island. It took 100 years for construction that started as early as 1625 by the feudal lord of Takamatsu at the time, Ikoma Takotoshi.
Ritsurin garden has a total of 6 alluring ponds, and was constructed with Mount Shiun as a background. It is said that the beauty of the garden relies heavily on the mountain, and both complement each other completely. Regardless of the season, this garden will always be filled with different landscapes and scenery.
As the garden is roughly 75 hectares wide, it would take one to two hours just to walk through the whole place! Fortunately, there are plenty of activities for visitors to enjoy, while strolling down this enchanting garden.
Kagawa Prefecture is most famous for their udon (a Japanese noodle based cuisine), more precisely the Sanuki Udon. You can find several shop houses around Ritsurin, that offer this delicious bowl of noodles, and you can enjoy them while experiencing the scenic beauty of the garden. Other than udon, these small shops also sell a variety of dango, which is a type of Japanese dumpling made from rice flour. There is green tea, red bean and even sakura flavored dango sold here! Grab a stick to enjoy while you continue walking around the park.
What is a trip to a Japanese garden without experiencing the Japanese tea ceremony culture of Sado? The tea house in Ritsurin garden, is called Kikutsukitei, which basically translates to the ninth month in the lunar calendar. This is because it was believed, that you can scoop up the image of the moon in your hands, when it was reflected in the lake during that time of the year. Pop inside for a cup of tea, Japanese style.
Next on our to-do list would have to be feeding the Koi fishes. As the garden has up to 6 different ponds, it is no surprise that it is home to more than 1000 koi fishes! Visitors can buy sticks of fish food for only 80 yen, and watch in delight as these huge fish come swarming up with their mouths open, hungry for a bite.
Last but not least, the garden offers a half hour ride in a traditional Japanese boat around the largest pond. This boat ride offers a unique experience, as the view from the boat is very different, and perhaps more enchanting than the view while walking. The boatman will calmly explain the different trees and shrubs during the ride, giving you an in depth explanation regarding this historical site.
Other than the activities listed, this vast garden also has museums that people can visit, to know more about the garden, and also Shikoku.
So what are you waiting for? Come and visit Ritsurin Garden to fully experience the serenity of a Japanese garden. After that, I’m sure that you will be able to tell for yourself what difference there is, than any other garden.