One of the best ways to experience the culture of Japan is to visit one of the many gardens in the country. Japanese gardens are known for their clean, peaceful, and tranquil feel. Japanese gardens are areas where the gods are said to manifest themselves. These serene places are perfect areas to meditate and commune with nature.
Japan has many gardens that are popular to tourists. Some travel agencies offer garden tours which last anywhere from one to twenty one days. The more gardens you visit, the more in depth you become in your encounter with their culture. Kyoto, known as the country’s cultural seat, has some of the most beautiful gardens.
Tours are available in spring, summer and fall, with the latter being a favorite because of the drama the autumn colors bring. Tours are composed of both public and private gardens and have included many different styles of gardens, including stroll gardens, landscape gardens, and pond and island gardens.
The Katsura Imperial is a villa with associated gardens and outbuildings in the western suburbs of Kyoto. It is one of Japan’s most important large-scale cultural treasures. It showcases not only beautiful gardens but also impressive architecture that speaks so much of culture.
The Ritsurin Garden or the chestnut grove garden is one of the most famous and most beautiful historical gardens in Japan. It is situated in the city of Takamatsu. The garden contains a tea house, folk art and craft exhibits. A tour through this garden generally takes one to two hours. Various bridges, footpaths and small hills abound which offer a beautiful view of the garden and the surrounding scenery. There is also a view of Mt. Shiun from the garden. The garden covers 750,000 square meters and features the Kikugetsu-tei (Moon Scooping Pavilion), a teahouse that was built in the early years of the Edo period (around 1640). There is also the Hakomatsum or carefully cultivated black pine trees which branches, twigs, and needles are elaborately trimmed into geometrical shapes and figures.
The many ponds and streams are full of koi and the visitors of the Tea House by the pond may sit and feed the fish from breadsticks purchased at the Tea House.
Garden tours can be done by tourists on their own, thanks to Japan’s excellent railway system. Organized tours are also available and suggested for first time visitors.
Photos from wikimedia.org