Spending time in the outdoors does not always mean engaging in sports, whether traditional or modern, nor does it mean that one has to commit to bungee jumping or skydiving, far from it actually. Japan is a nation adept at offering the ideal outdoor settings for all possible tastes. Whether one wishes to get moving to get their blood flowing or simply enjoy a cup of tea in a beautiful garden – everything outdoor is possible in Japan.
For those more inclined to relax and soak in the stunning visuals of Japan’s traditional cultural establishments as well as blooming flora, the Sankei-en Gardens may be the ideal destination. Located in the Naka Ward of Yokohama, the Sankei-en Gardens are traditional Japanese-styled gardens. Generally, Japanese-style gardens are entire landscapes miniaturized in a often highly stylized fashion, often even reaching into levels of abstractness.
The Sankei-en Gardens have much history associated with them. Built and designed by a silk trader known as either Tomitaro Hara or his pseudonym Saneki Hara, the gardens opened in 1906. They suffered substantial amounts of damage from bombings during World War II, but have been restored to their former glory since. Most of the garden’s buildings have some sort of historical significance and were bought by Hara himself. They originated in prefectures and cities across the country, including Tokyo and Kyoto. The garden is home to several structures deemed by the Japanese government as cultural heritage, increasing its attractiveness to foreign visitors by even more.
The garden and its features cover an area of 175,000 square meters (43 acres) and has an impressive amount of variety among its area. Near the entrance is the Kakushokaku, the former residence of Hara’s family. Today the building is used as an event location and can be rented for private parties.
Behind the Kakushokaku is the Outer Garden. This is the part that was initially made available to the public in 1906 when Sankei-en opened for the first time. The Outer Garden is located next to the Main Pond and is home to several of the noteworthy buildings spread out over the entire area. The next point of interest is the Inner Garden, which was opened to the public in 1958 following the garden’s post-war reconstruction. It houses the mansion of the Kii House and is commonly compared to some of the most intricate and historically important and generally lavishly decorated mansions and villas across the country.
First image by jtbgmt.com
Second image by Lemuel Montejo on flickr.com