A visit to Kenrokouen Garden in Kanazawa

Kanazawa is located in central Honshu in Japan’s Isikawa prefecture.  With its unique location between mountains and sea, it provided a stronghold for the Maeda feuadal lords and the town developed its own cultural identity.  Kanazawa focussed more on culture than industry and it was spared from the World War II bombings.  There were many reasons I included Kanazawa in my itinerary (it’s like a little Kyoto) but the main reason was to see the beautiful Kenrokouen Garden.

Kenrokouen Garden is rated as one of the three most beautiful gardens in Japan to see.  The most famous image of all is the Japanese stone lantern designed in the image of a ‘koto’ (Japanese harp) standing by the big artificial pond.

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The famous stone lantern of Kenrokouen

Kenrokouen is in the center of Kanazawa, next to Kanazawa Castle Park and covers a green area of 11.4 hectares.  It’s best seen early of late in the day if you want to get some clean photographs.  The entrance fee is a mere 310 Yen for adults and if you are collecting Eki stamps throughout Japan don’t forget to get the stamp close to the admission windows.  Kenrokouen stayed within the Maeda family for generations while they ruled the Kaga clan.  Some of their houses are dotted throughout the garden.  Kenrokouen has a huge artificial pond in the garden called ‘Kasumigaike’ that symbolizes the open ocean.

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The pond with an island in the middle
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The pond is huge
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The floating house sitting on the pond

I visited Kenrokouen during the end of spring.  The garden was lush and green and truly magical.  The trees drowned out the sound of cars whizzing around town and I was instead accompanied with the sounds of running water and birds.  Unfortunately, I was a bit too late for the sakura (cherry blossoms), though I did see some, and too early for the irises to bloom.  The garden was still beautiful to stroll through.  There’s a tea house in the garden and I had the most flavorful wagashi of my whole trip in Japan here during the traditional tea ceremony.  The wagashi was a seasonal cherry blossom flavor with a hint of cinnamon and a dot of Kanazawa’s famous gold leaf on top.

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Tea Ceremony at the tea house in Kenrokouen
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I found Sakura!

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Last bit of spring blossoms
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Too early for to see some iris flowers in bloom
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Tea house used for private functions on the water
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I just love the quiet green paths
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A path to tranquility
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A beautiful mini ecosystem within the garden
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The six story lantern
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Flowing streams in Kenrokouen Garden

Kanazawa has many other places to see:  well preserved tea districts, a samurai district, ninja temples, its own castle and a bustling market (omicho market).  Kenrokouen was one of the most beautiful gardens I saw on my trip and I would recommend it to anyone.  Kanazawa is close to Takayama, so it you’re going there its worth taking a morning trip to Kanazawa to see Kenrokouen.  Just jump on the Kanazawa Loop Bus at the station and you’re there.

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Kenrokouen Garden

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13 thoughts on “A visit to Kenrokouen Garden in Kanazawa

  1. Oh gosh, Kanazawa was the one additional stop we would have made on our Japan trip this year if we had even just one extra day and after seeing how beautiful these gardens are, I’m so wishing we could have managed to squeeze it in! Looks so peaceful 🙂

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