Among 日本三名園 "the three most famous gardens in Japan", Kenrokuen in Kanazawa (Ishikawa Prefecture) is often considered the most beautiful Japanese garden. Its name alone refers to the six attributes considered most important in the concept of the ideal garden: space, serenity, venerability, panorama, subtlety and freshness.
A visit of Kanazawa therefore imposes naturally the discovery of the vast Kenrokuen, which spans 11.4 acres, especially since it is located right next to the city castle and the Museum of Contemporary Art. The combined visit is ideal even for a single day in the city.
The construction of the garden in the early seventeenth century returns to Maeda family, regent of Kaga Domain, which covered the present Ishikawa and Toyama prefectures. Destroyed by fire and then restored during the second half of the eighteenth century, it opened to the public in the 1870s.
The walk in Kenrokuen is mainly around Kasumigaike, a large artificial pond built like an ocean, which opens on many ramifications. At its northwestern end is Kotoji, the famous stone lantern with curved legs of different lengths. Not far away is a fountain with natural pressure.
The garden's amazing variety of landscapes relies on 183 plant species that make up to almost eight thousand trees, complemented by panoramic views of Kanazawa. Thus, Kenrokuen is beautiful in any season, enjoying varied blooms throughout the year and parrying with a white coat cleverly worked in winter.
The visit, although very popular with tourists, is particularly valuable and recommended for lovers of beautiful classic and well maintained Japanese gardens.
How to get to Kenrokuen
From Kanazawa station:
- 10 minutes by taxi
- 15 minutes by Hokutetsu bus (east exit - #3 station - ¥200 / ~US$ 1.80), stop at Kenrokuen-shita and 2 minute walk
- 15 minutes by JR bus (east exit - #4 station)
- 20 minutes by Loop bus (LL9 and RL8 stops) or Shuttle bus (S8 stop)
Address: 1 Kenrokumachi, Kanazawa, Ishikawa 920-0936 (tel 76-234-3800)
Location unreachable with the JR Pass
Get there with a rental car
Adults: ¥310 (~US$ 2.80)
Children (6-18 years old): ¥100 (~US$ 0.90)
Seniors (65 and over): free
Pre-opening: free for everyone
Open 365 days a year
From 1 March to 15 October: from 7am to 18h
From October 16 to 28/29 February: 8 am to 17h
- From April to August inclusive: from 4 am to 7 am
- From November to February: from 6 am to 8 am
- March, September and October: from 5 am to 7/8
How long / when to visit
Approximate tour time: about two hours
Recommended period: all year