Thursday, June 7, 2012

Ritsurin Garden

On May 29th, we went to Ritsurin Garden. This area is just a few minutes walk from where I used to live. This garden's construction began in the 1570's by the local rulers, the Satos. In 1625, Ikoma Takatoshi continued developing the garden. It was taken over by successive rulers until the 5th, Matsudaira Yoritaka, completed it in 1745. This area served as the private estate of the Matsudaira family for 228 years. After the end of the feudal clan system, the area became a public park in 1875.

The entire park covers about 185 acres, with the flower gardens using about 40 acres. It is the largest garden in Japan designated a national scenic area. The mountain you see in the background is Mount Shiun.

They built an artificial waterfall that ran from half way up the mountain. In the times of the feudal lords, the servants would carry water in buckets up to a large container. When the lord walked by, they would release the water, causing the waterfall to flow. Today this is all done by electrical pumps.

There are three tea houses within the garden. Kikugetsu-tei, pictured below from different locations, is reported to have been a favorite of the feudal rulers.

All of the trees in the foreground of the picture below were planted by members of the Japanese royal family, except for one. The third tree from the right was planted in 1923 by the Prince of Whales. He was the uncle of Queen Elizabeth II. Thirteen years after planting this tree, he would become King Edward VIII, only to abdicate from the throne within a year for the woman he loved.

There were many things to see... The Japanese plums were ripe on the trees

The lily pads were in full bloom

The Japanese gardens as a whole are very well thought out and blend well with the surroundings

I really like the Japanese lanterns that are used to decorate gardens, houses, and temples.

And of course, what Japanese garden would be complete without koi. Visitors here can purchase food to trow in the lakes. So, every time you walk by the lakes' edge the koi would congregate hoping to be fed. We were feeding them in the below photo, which had them all scrambling to get a piece.

The souvenir shop had a lot of wood made items, as the lacquerware from this area is popular in Japan. Outside the shop, they also had a large assortment of bonsai trees for sale. 

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