Nanrakuen Garden, which is located in Uwajima City, Ehime Prefecture, is one of the largest Japanese gardens in Shikoku. The construction having taken 10 years, two fine pond, Kami-ike and Shimo-ike, are surrounded with the four zones built on the concept of “mountain,” “village,” “town” and “sea.” There are about 200,000 trees of over 180 species growing in the 150,000 sq. km garden area and about 10,000 carp swimming in the pond. It is a stroll garden, where visitors can enjoy viewing colorful carp and seasonal flowers.
Azalea Festival is held in this garden from early April through early May every year. About 32,000 stocks of Rhododendron obtusum, Rhododendron hirado azalea and Enkianthus perulatus and about 36,000 stocks of Rhododendron indicum come into bloom all at once. Deep and light red, pink and white azalea flowers brilliantly spread along the promenade and entertain the visitors with the taste of spring.
Daishoji is located in today's Kaga city in Ishikawa Prefecture. This was once a thriving castle town within the highly productive million-koku branch domain of the Kaga Domain.
Daishoji is a place where history and tradition live. The streets still retain a mellow and relaxed atmosphere evocative of the Edo period. At the base of the Kinjo mountain castle are the old Zen and Nichiren Buddhist temples standing side by side. Visitors come all year round to see the historical sites here.
Among the temples, Jisshouin is famous throughout Japan for its beautiful wisteria. The gilt-painted shoji screens are also magnificent. Choryu-Tei pavilion and garden, located in the grounds of the Enuma Shrine and once part of the mansion of Daishoji's 3rd lord, seem to imitate the Kenrokuen garden. Here the elaborate and detailed drawing room and tea room are interesting. This garden is designated as an important national asset.
Nakatsu Bansho-en is a wonderful daimyo garden located on the beach at the river mouth of the Kanakura River, which runs through Marugame City, Kagawa Prefecture. It was built in 1688 by the 2nd lord of the Marugame domain, Kyogoku Takatoyo as a villa called “Nakatsu Bekkan”
There are about 1,500 pine trees including a 600-yea-old large stone pine. With 8 islets respectively named “Sail,” “Goose,” “Snow,” “Rain,” “Mist on a Fine Day,” “Moon,” and “the Evening Glow” set out in the pond, this strolling garden was constructed to emulate the Eight Fine Views in Omi (present-day Shiga Prefecture), which was the hometown of the Kyogoku family.
There are the main house and the tea house by the pond. In the garden are also Marugame Museum, where paintings of the Barbizon School and Japanese-style paintings are exhibited, Porcelain Center of the 13th century pottery works, and Hiina Doll House, where hina-dolls, combs and Japanese hair pins are displayed.
Kikugetsutei is a tea house is an aristocratic tea house located in Ritsurin Park, which is famous for its exquisite stroll-type garden. The construction of this garden started in 1625 by the lord of the Takamatsu domain, Ikoma Takatoshi, and was completed in 1745 after 100 years of improvements and extensions made by five successive domain lords of the Matsudaira family. The park was designated a prefectural park and opened to the public in 1875.
The lord of the Matsudaira family loved this grand Kikugetsutei Tea House.
With the greenery of Mt. Shiun as a backdrop, its elegant shape looks in good harmony with the pond. The tea house is in Shoin-zukuri style (the style of warrior residences) and elaborately designed so that you can fully appreciate the beauty of the pond and the surrounding landscape beyond the water.
On the second Sunday every month, you can join the tea ceremony “Tsuki-gama” here at Kikugetsutei Tea House.
Rinnoji Temple in Aoba-ku, Sendai City, Miyagi Prefecture, is a temple of the Soto sect of Buddhism It was founded in Somekawa in present Fukushima Prefecture in 1441 by Date Mochimune, the 11th head of the Date clan, to respond to the plea by the nun Rantei Meigyoku, the wife of the late 9th head.
Rinnoji Temple is famous for its beautiful Japanese garden named “Rinnoji Zen Garden.” It is a pond stroll garden, which is said to be one of the most wonderful gardens in the Tohoku district. The garden was designed by the priest Fukusada Mugai (1881-1943), who restored the temple after it had declined in the Meiji period.
The pond with the backdrop of red pine and cedar trees reflect the images of weeping cherry blossoms and the three-story pagoda in the middle of April. White and violet flowers of Japanese irises in late June are especially impressive. Walking across bridges over the pond to view the scenery that changes by season, you will have a really relaxing time.
Saito Family Garden is located in Maeyachi in Ishinomaki City in the northwestern part of the Ishinomaki Plain in Miyagi Prefecture is a nationally designated Place of Scenic Beauty. This Japanese style garden was built in the late Meiji period (1868-1912) by Zenemon Saito, the 9th head of the Saito family, one of the three most prominent and wealthiest farming families in northern Japan throughout the middle and modern ages. It is highly evaluated as a distinctive modern garden.
The flat garden and pond are laid out around the Japanese-styled houses, Seiraku-tei and Muichi-an, against the backdrop of the slopes of hills. At the foot of the hill is a deep cave called Hosenkutsu, from which water springs out to feed the pond.
The late-Jomon earthen wares excavated from the Takaragamine Ruins site are exhibited in Takaragamine Museum, a Japanese-styled house with a thatched roof located in the garden.
The garden and the museum were closed to the public in March, 2008.
Old samurai gardens and residences have been carefully preserved in Chiran-cho, Minamikyushu City, Kagoshima Prefecture. This district is nationally designated as a Preservation District for Groups of Historic Buildings. They are the reminiscence of the samurais’ residential district built about 260 years ago by the lord of Chiran Town, Shimazu Hisamine. As is represented by the words, “What defends the province is not a castle but people,” more than 100 residential districts of this kind were constructed as outer forts to defend the domain’s main castle during this period.
The residences are located along the delightful streets nicknamed Samurai Lanes, which are intentionally narrow and high walled to prevent would-be invaders. The seven gardens are open to the public. One garden is a pond garden with a miniature artificial-hill, and others are dry gardens in Karesansui-style. Those exquisite and elegant gardens fully represent intelligence and decency based on the Satsuma style simple and sturdy philosophy.
Yatsuhasi Iris Festival is held from late April through late May every year in the pond stroll garden named “Yatsuhashi Iris Garden” of Muryojuji Temple in Chiryu City, Aichi Prefecture. It is a renowned place to view Kakitsubata, or the rabbit-ear iris (Iris laevigata Fisch.), about which Ariwara no Narihira wrote a poem in the Chapter 9 “Yatsuhashi” of his famous “Ise Monogatari (the Tales of Ise).” During the blooming season, about 30,000 stocks of rabbit-ear iris come into bloom in the sixteen ponds of the 13,000 square meter garden.
With a history of 55 years, the festival is one of the biggest events of the city. During the festival period, various enjoyable events are held at the temple, such as the photo contest of Yatsuhashi iris flowers, tea ceremonies, the exhibition of bonsai (miniature trees), the tanka poem contest, the shigin (poem chanting) contest and the exhibition of the temple treasures.