A garden filled with peonies
Yushi-en is a Japanese garden located on Daikonshima Island, in the middle of Lake Nakaumi, northeast of Matsue City. Yushi-en garden is famous for its peonies spring festival and its koyo in the fall. This traditional garden is a must-see in the area, and you can visit it any time of the year.
There are plenty of historical anecdotes that are still alive nowadays in Shimane Prefecture. Daikonshima Island, originally a ginseng farming land, is no exception. Imported from Korea, the cultivation of the ginseng root requires tending on a long-term basis: The first cycle of growth lasts seven years, and the land must then be put to rest for fifteen years. To protect the precious roots from thieves, the island was named Daikonshima, "white radish island", after a very common vegetable. The farmers began to grow peonies to stay busy when not harvesting ginseng. The peonies are still planted nowadays and are even sold a high price worldwide through famous plant providers.
Cutting peony flowers after each flowering is necessary to keep their bulbs strong. The cut flowers are then used to gracefully cover the ponds of Yushi-en Garden. They are laid on wire mesh to offer the sight of vivid and warm colors of floating flowers. You can admire this sight once a year in spring between April and May. The yellow peonies, which are the last to bloom, are laid on the last day of Golden Week.
Various species of peonies can be admired in the Botan-kan, one of the inner pavilions, where a greenhouse allows to see the peony flowers in bloom all year round. In winter, the peonies planted outside are covered with a lovely straw matting to protect them from snow.
Back in the 1970s, Yushi-en Garden was originally a private garden, whose owners, the Kadowaki family, used to practice omotenashi, Japanese hospitality. The garden grew over time to its current size, and it was several years before the place was open to visitors. The entrance door, genkan, is typical of big Japanese residences and resembles the wooden architecture of the bath house in Miyazaki’s animated movie Spirited Away.
The layout of the garden resembles a miniature Matsue or Izumo and is beautiful all year round. You can stroll around to discover the garden and its two ponds, as well as the numerous flowerbeds and moss beds. The garden is home to iconic seasonal plants of Japan, such as cherry trees 🌸 or azaleas in spring, hydrangeas in early summer, maple trees (momiji 🍁) in fall, and camellias in winter.
The 600-seats restaurant offering a traditional Japanese menu, kaiseki, is the best place to continue contemplation of this beautiful scenery. Except for the seasonal peak in spring, you can always enjoy a peaceful visit to Yushi-en Garden.