Ritsurin Koen (栗林公園) is often suggested that it deserves a spot on the list of the “three most beautiful gardens of Japan”. Ritsurin Koen is a historical garden in Takamatsu City (Kagawa prefecture, Shikoku), built by the local feudal lords during the early Edo Period. Within Takamatsu city this garden is one of the main attractions. Ritsurin Koen along with Kanazawa’s Kenrokuen, Mito’s Kairakuen, and Okayama’s Korakuen are considered the best gardens in Japan.
A stroll through Ritsurin garden generally takes one to two hours. There are various bridges, footpaths and small hills which offer a beautiful view of the garden and the surrounding scenery, most notably Mt. Shiun (紫雲山 Shiun-zan?) at the western border of the garden. The park has a number of facilities including a folk museum, shops and a few resthouses where you can take a break and enjoy some refreshments amidst the beauty of the garden. Of particular note is the Kikugetsu-tei teahouse in the southwest part of the gardens where, for a small fee, you can enter and enjoy some tea on its verandas overlooking the ponds.
With Mt Shiun in the background, the area of Ritsurin garden’s south pond was constructed as a daimyo garden during the middle of the 1620’s by Takatoshi Ikoma who ruled Sanuki (now named Kagawa). Then Yorishige Matsudaira inherited the garden after being appointed as the new daimyo or feudal lord of the Takamatsu Domain in 1642.
A daimyo strolling garden is a type of traditional Japanese garden in with ponds and hills are expertly constructed of a vast tract of land. These gardens can be enjoyed when leisurely stroll around inside and were typically seen in the 17th and 18th century.
After 1642, the garden was repaired and expanded by successive generations of lords of the Matsudaira Family until its completion more than hundred years later in 1754. From that time Ritsurin Garden was used as the private garden of the Matsudaira Family’s villa. Ritsurin garden was opened for the public at March 16th, 1875 and in 1953 designated as a “National place of Special Scenic Beauty”. In 2009 the French tourist guide Michelin Green Guide Japan ranked the garden with its highest rating of 3 stars.
Map of Ritsurin Garden
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