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Note: The opinions and views expressed in this user report are those of the individual author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of japan-guide.com.

January 30, 2020 - Best of Japan - Gardens

Japan is a land of contrasts and I have been lucky enough to travel around this country more than most. For my last series for Japan Guide after visiting all 47 prefectures, I will be showcasing my favorite locations in Japan. This post will cover what I have found to be some of the best gardens that Japan has to offer.

Kenrokuen Garden is located in Kanazawa (Ishikawa Prefecture) and is often seen as the best of the "4 Big Gardens" in the country. This large strolling garden has multiple sections and used to be the outer garden of Kanazawa Castle which is located nearby. Do note that this garden can get busy quickly but there are plenty of places to get away from the crowd as well.

Located in the seaside town of Sataka in Yamagata Prefecture, the Honma Former Residence contains a medium strolling garden attached to a large art museum. This garden is not as old as some of the others in this list as it's the former holiday home of a person of the merchant class, but it's still one of the best in the country.

Located on the outskirts of Kyoto City slightly away from convenient transport links, the Katsura Imperial Villa can easily be seen as one of the more refined gardens in the entire country. This garden can only be visited though guided tours which can be booked online, but some tickets are also available on the day but are mainly tours for Japanese speakers.

Located next to Osaka Bay in what appears to be former industrial areas, the Maishima Lillies can be viewed in mid June and are also quite photogenic. It's best to search up online it's open days as the weather can significantly affect when they open and finish.

Found in the town of Takeo in Saga Prefecture, the Mifuneyama Rakuen Gardens is known for it's light up events in summer and flowers in May. It's also got plenty of borrowed scenery which can make it rather photogenic.

A second visit in winter a few years later

Ritsurin Park is one of the big four gardens in Japan but is the only one found off Honshu as it's located at Takamatsu in Kagawa Prefecture. This large strolling garden has plenty of old buildings and borrowed scenery, but it's also large enough to include a large plum blossom area when I visited in February many years ago.

If there is one garden that I have visited more than any - it would be Sankeien Garden at Yokohama in Kanagawa Prefecture. This large strolling garden is a little over a century old but is also home to many historic buildings which have been moved to the site by the original owner of the garden who was in the silk industry.

For people who live in Yokohama, purchasing a yearly pass can be great as you get to see how the garden changes with the seasons. I often say this is my favorite garden in the country, but it's probably because I get to see how it continually changed for 3 years and there always seemed to be something new that I stumbled on.

Located a short walk from Shinjuku Station, the Shinjuku Gyuen in Tokyo is a large garden with great views of the Tokyo Skytree which dominates the surrounding area. It's home to a large Japanese garden, places for picnics and even a reasonably large indoors greenhouse.

Part of the Japanese garden in Shinjuku Gyuen

A few years ago on the Japan Guide forum I stated that I'd visited all of the major gardens in Japan apart from Sengen-an in Kagoshima when Yuushien Garden near Matsue in Shimane Prefecture was mentioned. This reasonably new garden is probably my favorite one visit garden that I have been to - but would visit more often if it was located on the East Coast of Honshu. It's an impressive garden, but is mainly known for it's winter Peonies.

As can be seen from above, Japan is home to a large amount of gardens. Note that I have not included any temple in this post but will in future posts. My next post will look at the best castles in the country.

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List of Posts:
2020/04/04 - Best of Japan - More Temples
2020/03/29 - Best of Japan - More Residences
2020/03/29 - Best of Japan - More Nature
2020/03/01 - Best of Japan - Historical
2020/02/22 - Best of Japan - More Shrines
2020/02/18 - Best of Japan - More Gardens
2020/02/15 - Best of Japan - Art & Events
2020/02/14 - Best of Japan - History & Museums
2020/02/12 - Best of Japan - Residences
2020/02/06 - Best of Japan - Views
2020/02/05 - Best of Japan - Animals
2020/02/04 - Best of Japan - Shrines
2020/02/02 - Best of Japan - Nature
2020/02/02 - Best of Japan - Festivals
2020/02/02 - Best of Japan - Castles
2020/01/30 - Best of Japan - Gardens
2020/01/27 - Best of Japan - Industrial Heritage
2020/01/27 - Best of Japan - Temples
2020/01/11 - Iizuka - Fukuoka
2020/01/11 - Tosu - Saga + Fukuoka Prefecture
2020/01/10 - Iriki to Kagoshima
2020/01/09 - Satsuma Food - Kagoshima
2020/01/09 - Ibusuki to Iriki - Kagoshima
2020/01/08 - Jigenji to Ibusuki - Kagoshima
2020/01/08 - Chiran - Kagoshima Prefecture
2020/01/07 - Tarumizu to Jigenji - Kagoshima
2020/01/06 - Kagoshima to Tarumizu
2020/01/05 - Sengan-an Area - Kagoshima City
2020/01/05 - Shiroyama Area - Kagoshima City
2020/01/04 - Kagoshima City - Day 1
2020/01/03 - Yakushima Drive - Kagoshima
2020/01/02 - Yakusugi Land - Yakushima
2020/01/01 - Shiratani Unsui - Yakushima
2019/12/30 - Cold & Soggy Kyoto
2019/12/29 - Kasuga Taisha to Station - Nara Prefecture
2019/12/29 - Todai-ji Area - Nara Prefecture
2019/12/28 - Kodaiji Area - Kyoto Prefecture
2019/12/28 - Takao - Kyoto Prefecture
2019/12/27 - Amanohashidate - Kyoto Prefecture
2019/12/27 - Yoshiminedera & Ine - Kyoto Prefecture
2019/12/26 - Imperial Kyoto
2019/12/25 - Southern Shiga Prefecture
2019/12/25 - Iga Ueno - Mie Prefecture
2019/12/24 - Omi Hachiman - Shiga Prefecture
2019/12/24 - Higashi Omi - Shiga Prefecture
2019/12/23 - Nagahama - Shiga Prefecture
2019/12/23 - Chikubu Island - Shiga Prefecture
2019/12/22 - Otsu to Nagahama - Shiga Prefecture
2019/12/21 - Arima Onsen - Hyogo Prefecture
2019/12/21 - Kobe Day 2 - Hyogo Prefecture
2019/12/20 - Kobe Day 1 : Hyogo Prefecture
2019/01/11 - Obscure Kyushu : Kashima & Dazaifu
2019/01/10 - Obscure Kyushu : Arita
2019/01/10 - Obscure Kyushu : Takeo
2019/01/09 - Obscure Kyushu : Kurokawa to Ureshino
2019/01/08 - Obscure Kyushu : Aso to Kurokawa
2019/01/07 - Obscure Kyushu : Yamaga to Aso
2019/01/06 - Obscure Kyushu : Yamaga
2019/01/06 - Obscure Kyushu : Kumamoto Castle Sites
2019/01/05 - Obscure Kyushu : Outer Kumamoto City
2019/01/04 - Obscure Kyushu : Minamata
2019/01/04 - Obscure Kyushu : Izumi
2019/01/03 - Obscure Kyushu: Kirishima
2019/01/02 - Obscure Kyushu : Hitoyoshi
2019/01/02 - Obscure Kyushu : Yatsushiro
2019/01/01 - Obscure Kyushu : Amakusa
2018/12/31 - Obscure Kyushu - Munakata to Amasuka
2018/12/30 - Obscure Kyushu - Munakata
2018/07/18 - Hidden Honshu: Fukuyama
2018/07/17 - Hidden Honshu: Tomonoura
2018/07/17 - Hidden Honshu: Iwakuni
2018/07/16 - Hidden Honshu: Tsuwano
2018/07/15 - Hidden Honshu: Hagi's Residences
2018/07/15 - Hidden Honshu: Hagi's Shrine District & Temples
2018/07/15 - Hidden Honshu: Hagi's Castle Town
2018/07/14 - Hidden Honshu: Iwami Ginzan
2018/07/14 - Hidden Honshu: Izumo
2018/07/13 - Hidden Honshu: Yonago
2018/07/13 - Hidden Honshu: Matsue's Gardens
2018/07/12 - Hidden Honshu: Mikuni
2018/07/11 - Hidden Honshu: Awara Onsen
2018/07/10 - Hidden Honshu: Kanazawa's Museums
2018/07/09 - Hidden Honshu: Kanazawa's Samurai District
2018/07/09 - Hidden Honshu: Kanazawa's Castle District
2018/07/08 - Hidden Honshu: Sado's Shukunegi
2018/07/08 - Hidden Honshu: Southern Sado
2018/07/07 - Hidden Honshu: Northern Sado
2018/07/06 - Hidden Honshu: Getting to Sado
2018/07/05 - Hidden Honshu: Sakata
2018/07/04 - Hidden Honshu: Akita
2018/07/03 - Hidden Honshu: Kakunodate
2018/07/02 - Hidden Honshu: Nyuto to Tamagawa Onsen
2018/07/01 - Hidden Honshu: Morioka to Nyuto Onsen
2018/06/30 - Hidden Honshu: Matsumae
2018/02/23 - Southern Odyssey - Taketomi
2018/02/23 - Southern Odyssey - Ishigaki City
2018/02/22 - Southern Odyssey - Ishigaki Island
2018/02/21 - Southern Odyssey - Iriomote
2018/02/20 - Southern Odyssey - Okinawa to Iriomote
2018/02/19 - Southern Odyssey - Okinawa WW2 Sites
2018/02/19 - Southern Odyssey - Okinawa Day 5 Southern Attractions
2018/02/18 - Southern Odyssey - Okinawa Day 4 Naha
2018/02/17 - Southern Odyssey - Okinawa Day 3
2018/02/16 - Southern Odyssey - Ocean Expo Park
2018/02/16 - Southern Odyssey - Ie Island
2018/02/15 - Southern Odyssey - Okinawa Hanami Report
2018/02/15 - Southern Odyssey - Okinawa Day 1
2018/02/14 - Southern Odyssey - Amami to Okinawa
2018/02/13 - Southern Odyssey - Amami Day 3
2018/02/12 - Southern Odyssey - Amami Day 2
2018/02/11 - Southern Odyssey - Amami Day 1
2017/07/04 - Shikotsu Lake to Noboribetsu - Hokkaido
2017/07/03 - Otaru to Shikotsu - Hokkaido
2017/07/02 - Otaru - Hokkaido
2017/07/02 - Yoichi - Hokkaido
2017/07/01 - Biei to Sapporo - Hokkaido
2017/06/30 - Sounkyo Onsen to Biei - Hokkaido
2017/06/29 - Shibetsu to Sounkyu Onsen - Hokkaido
2017/06/28 - Hokkaido: Wakkanai to Shibetsu
2017/06/27 - Rebun Island - Lake Kushu & Kafuka
2017/06/26 - Rebun Island - Momoiwa Course
2017/06/25 - Rishiri Island - Hokkaido
2017/06/23 - Imaicho - Nara Prefecture
2017/06/22 - Asuka & Sakurai - Nara Prefecture
2017/06/22 - Nara Yamoto 4 Temple Pilgrimage
2017/06/21 - Yoshino - Nara Prefecture
2017/06/20 - Sakai - Osaka Prefecture
2017/06/19 - Osaka - Namba Area
2017/06/19 - Western Osaka
2017/06/18 - Kansai & Hokkaido Trip Intro & Central Osaka
2017/02/06 - Closed Kurume - Fukuoka
2017/02/05 - Miyazaki to Kobayashi
2017/02/04 - Obi Castle Town - Miyazaki
2017/02/04 - Nichinan Coast - Miyazaki
2017/02/03 - Gardens & Museums of Miyazaki City
2017/02/02 - Shrines of Takachiko - Miyazaki
2017/02/01 - Usuki City - Oita
2017/01/31 - Hita & Surrounds - Oita
2017/01/31 - Yufuin Onsen - Oita
2017/01/30 - Hells of Beppu
2017/01/30 - Oita City - Oita
2017/01/29 - Kitsuki Castle Town - Oita
2017/01/28 - Hiji Castle Town - Oita
2017/01/28 - Templing in Kunisaki Hanto
2017/01/27 - Nakatsu to Yamaga Onsen
2017/01/27 - Eastern Kyushu Trip Info & Nakatsu
2016/08/02 - Ohori Park - Fukuoka
2016/08/01 - Fukuoka's Gion Temple Cluster
2016/07/31 - Unzen Onsen - Nagasaki Prefecture
2016/07/31 - Shimabara - Nagasaki Prefecture
2016/07/30 - Nagasaki City - Northern City Attractions
2016/07/29 - Nagasaki City - Southern Attractions
2016/07/29 - Hashima - Nagasaki Prefecture
2016/07/28 - Huis Ten Bosch Day 2 (Day)
2016/07/27 - Huis Ten Bosch Day 1 (Night)
2016/07/26 - Hirado Part 2 - Nagasaki
2016/07/26 - Hirado Part 1 - Nagasaki
2016/07/25 - Gardens of Takeo - Saga Prefecture
2016/07/24 - Yutoku Inari Shrine
2016/07/24 - Ureshino - Saga
2016/07/23 - Yoshinogari Park - Saga
2016/07/23 - Saga City - Saga Prefecture
2016/07/22 - Yobuko - Saga Prefecture
2016/07/21 - Karatsu City - Saga
2016/07/20 - Mojiko - Fukuoka
2016/07/20 - Kokura - Fukuoka
2016/07/19 - Dazaifu - Fukuoka
2016/07/18 - Nokonoshima Island - Fukuoka
2016/07/17 - NW Kyushu Trip Info & Yanagawa
2016/03/02 - Shikoku Highlights
2016/02/21 - Hadaka Matsuri: Saidaji Temple Okayama
2016/02/20 - Okayama Museum Cluster - Okayama Prefecture
2016/02/19 - Marugame & Kotohira - Kagawa Prefecture
2016/02/18 - Matsuyama - Ehime Prefecture
2016/02/17 - Uchihiko - Ehime
2016/02/17 - Ozu - Ehime Prefecture
2016/02/16 - Seiyo
2016/02/16 - Uwajima - Ehime Prefecture
2016/02/15 - Kochi to Otsuki
2016/02/14 - Kochi - Kochi - Kochi
2016/02/13 - Toyo to Yasu via Aki
2016/02/12 - Naruto to Toya
2016/02/11 - Takamatsu to Naruto
2016/02/11 - Artsy Naoshima: Honmura Art Project
2016/02/11 - Artsy Naoshima: Tsutsuji-so to Miyanoura Port
2016/02/10 - Takamatsu - Kagawa Prefecture
2016/02/10 - Shikoku Trip Info & Artsy Teshima
2015/07/19 - Accommodation in Japan - Last Post
2015/07/19 - Food in Japan
2015/07/15 - Hongu Taisha - Wakayama
2015/07/14 - Shingu & Ogi Matsuri - Wakayama
2015/07/13 - Nachi Taisha & Kii-Katsuura - Wakayama
2015/07/12 - Kii-Tanabe & Kumano Kodo - Wakayama
2015/07/10 - Wacky Wakayama City - Wakayama
2015/07/08 - Tottori City - Tottori Prefecture
2015/07/06 - Izushi - Hyogo
2015/07/05 - Kinosaki Onsen - Hyogo
2015/07/04 - Yamanaka Onsen - Ishikawa
2015/07/03 - Wajima to Wakura - Ishikawa
2015/07/02 - Eastern Noto Peninsula Drive - Ishikawa
2015/07/01 - Kanazawa to Wajima - Ishikawa
2015/06/30 - Itoigawa Salt Road - Niigata
2015/06/29 - Coastal Itoigawa - Niigata
2015/06/28 - Kurobe Dam Railway - Toyama
2015/06/27 - Iiyama City & Madarao Kogen - Nagano
2015/06/26 - Rural Iiyama & Nozawa Onsen - Nagano
2015/06/24 - Manza Onsen - Gunma Prefecture
2015/06/23 - Kusatsu Onsen - Gunma
2015/06/21 - Dewa Sanzan - Yamagata
2015/06/20 - Tsuruoka to Dewa Sanzan - Yamagata
2015/06/19 - Tsuruoka Town - Yamagata
2015/06/18 - Haruna Jinja - Gunma
2015/06/17 - Japan Trip Intro, JR Pass & Yokohama
2014/10/25 - Koyo In Japan - A Collection of Photos
2014/06/22 - Narita & Sawara - My Last Post!
2014/06/14 - Yahiko - Niigata
2014/06/07 - Ajiro Onsen
2014/05/17 - Gifu City
2014/05/17 - Cormorant Fishing - Gifu City
2014/05/11 - Shorin-zan Daruma-ji Temple
2014/05/10 - Gunma Flower Park
2014/04/27 - Obuse - Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/26 - Togakushi & Nagano
2014/04/13 - Toyokawa & Toyohashi
2014/04/12 - Futagawa - Cherry Blossom Report
2014/02/09 - Ono - Fukui Prefecture
2014/02/08 - Eiheiji & Fukui City
2014/01/19 - Nokogiri-Yama - Chiba
2014/01/03 - Izumo Taisha & Adachi Museum of Art
2014/01/02 - Matsue - Shimane Prefecture
2014/01/01 - Hagi - Yamaguchi Prefecture
2013/12/31 - Yamaguchi
2013/12/30 - Akiyoshido Cave - Yamaguchi Prefecture
2013/12/29 - Miyajima - Hiroshima Prefecture
2013/12/28 - Hiroshima
2013/12/27 - Onomichi - Hiroshima Prefecture
2013/12/26 - Kurashiki
2013/12/25 - Bitsu-Takahashi: Okayama Prefecture
2013/12/24 - Kibi Plain - Okayama Prefecture
2013/12/23 - Inujima Art Park - Okayama Prefecture
2013/12/22 - Okayama
2013/12/22 - Himeji Castle & Kokoen Gardens
2013/12/21 - Shoshazan Engyogi Temple Walk - Himeji
2013/12/16 - Tsumago to Magome - Spring & Winter
2013/12/08 - Ito - Through The Seasons
2013/11/26 - Kyoto Autumn Report - Central Kyoto to Higashiyama
2013/11/26 - Kyoto Autumn Report - Arashiyama Part 2
2013/11/25 - Kyoto Autumn Report - Arashiyama Part 1
2013/11/24 - Kyoto Autumn Report - Tofukuji & Night Illuminations
2013/11/17 - Showa Kinen Koen
2013/11/10 - Kofu City - Autumn Report
2013/11/09 - Shosenkyo Gorge - Autumn Report
2013/10/26 - Hirosaki - Apples & Temples
2013/10/25 - Hirosaki Castle Park & Surrounds - Autumn
2013/10/24 - Oirase Stream - Autumn Report
2013/10/23 - Lake Towada & Yasumiya - Autumn Report
2013/10/22 - Rural Tono - Autumn Report
2013/10/21 - Tono - Shrine Cluster
2013/10/20 - Central Tono - Iwate
2013/10/19 - Urabandai - Autumn Report
2013/10/02 - Kamikochi - Autumn Report
2013/09/29 - Mito - Ibaraki Prefecture
2013/09/28 - Rural Fukuroda & Ibaraki Flower Park
2013/09/14 - Atami - Shizuoka Prefecture
2013/08/16 - Noboribetsu - Summer & Autumn
2013/08/12 - Mt Asahidake - Daisetsuzan National Park
2013/08/11 - Asahiyama Zoo - Asahikawa
2013/08/10 - Sapporo - Summer & Autumn
2013/08/08 - Lake Toya - Hokkaido
2013/08/07 - Aomori Nebuta Matsuri
2013/08/06 - Osorezan - Shimokita Peninsula
2013/08/04 - Akita Kanto Matsuri
2013/08/03 - Yumoto Onsen to Chuzenji Lake Walk
2013/07/11 - Kyoto - Daigo-ji Temple
2013/07/10 - Kyoto - Mt Hieizan
2013/07/09 - Kyoto - Ohara
2013/07/07 - Kyoto - Koryuji Area
2013/07/06 - Uji - Summer
2013/07/05 - Hikone
2013/07/04 - Kyoto Station & Surroundings Attractions
2013/06/01 - Tokyo Parks & Gardens - Part 2
2013/05/26 - Tokyo Parks & Gardens - Part 1
2013/05/19 - Ouchijuku (Fukushima)
2013/05/18 - Aizu Wakamatsu (Fukushima Prefecture)
2013/05/13 - Geibi-kei Gorge & Ichinoseki
2013/05/11 - A Rainy Hiraizumi
2013/05/07 - Matsusaka Walk
2013/05/06 - Nara - Horyuji Temple & Koriyama Area
2013/05/05 - South West Nara Temple Trail (Golden Week)
2013/05/04 - Ise Naiku & Geku Shrines (Golden Week)
2013/04/29 - Western & South Eastern Kamakura Bike Ride
2013/04/28 - Yamadera Mountain Temple - Spring
2013/04/27 - Yamagata Cherry Blossom Report
2013/04/27 - Yonezawa Cherry Blossom Report
2013/04/20 - Nikko's Main Temples & Shrines
2013/04/20 - Nikko - Gardens & History Walk
2013/04/14 - Meiji Mura Park - Inuyama
2013/04/13 - Inuyama Town & Castle
2013/04/05 - Koyasan - Okunoin Temple & Temple Stay
2013/04/04 - Koyasan Bike Ride: From Daimon to Karukayado
2013/04/03 - Nara Park Cherry Blossom Report
2013/04/02 - Kyoto Cherry Blossom Report - Kiyomuzi & Nanzen-ji
2013/04/02 - Kyoto Cherry Blossom Report - Philosophers Trail
2013/04/01 - Kyoto Report - Temples, Shrines & Geisha
2013/03/30 - Furukawa - Takayama's Impressive Little Brother
2013/03/27 - Hakone Day Tour Loop
2013/03/26 - Cherry Blossom Report - Odawara Castle
2013/03/23 - Cherry Blossom Report - Yokohama @ Honmoku
2013/03/16 - Kamakura - North Western Bike Ride
2013/03/11 - Shimoda & Irozaki Coast
2013/03/09 - Minami-Izu Cherry Blossom Festival
2013/03/09 - Kawazu Cherry Blossom Matsuri & Kawazu Falls
2013/03/08 - Kamakura - Hase Area Walk
2013/03/03 - Kawaguchiko - Fuji Five Lakes
2013/02/24 - Kawasaki - On & Off The Beaten Track
2013/02/17 - Yamagata - An Unexpected Day Trip
2013/02/16 - Half of Yamadera & Zao Snow Monsters
2013/02/15 - Sendai - Winter
2013/02/14 - Matsushima - Winter
2013/02/09 - Yamanouchi Snow Monkeys & Nagano Zenkoji Temple
2013/02/06 - Shizuoka - Temples & Plum Blossoms