Saturday, November 12, 2016

Kenrokuen Landscape Garden

Kenrouken  Landscape Garden is one of the prides and joy of the city of Kanazawa. Constantly visited by foreign and domestic tourists alike, I feel happy to be able to enjoy it whenever I please. Due to it's scale and beauty, it is considered one of the three most famous gardens in Japan.

The name of the garden, Kenrokuen, means having six factors.  Those factors are spaciousness, seclusion, artificiality, antiquity, abundant water and broad view, which according to Chinese landscape theory are essential to the forming the perfect garden. It was originally constructed as an the outer garden of Kanazawa Castle by the then ruling Maeda family over a period of two centuries. It was opened to the public in the 1870s and has been adored for it's different looks in all seasons ever since.

In the month before winter snow threatens to weaken the aging trees, ropes are tied to branches stemming from a bamboo rod. This method assists the branches in bearing the weight of the wet, heavy snow experienced in Kanazawa winters. It assures that these same trees are preserved as long as possible for all to enjoy. This sight has come to be a symbol of Kenrokuen Garden and in turn the city of Kanazawa.

Another famous symbol of Kenrokuen Garden and the city of Kanazawa is this two meter tall Kotojitoro lantern, that stands on the northern bank of the Kasumigaike Pond.  Seen here at the right of the photo.

You can always see young women dressed in traditional kimonos, who are enjoying a cultural experience. There are many establishments that allow you to dress like a geisha for the day, do your hair, makeup, take your photo, and let you strut about town.

I am told one should visit Kenrokuen at least once during the four seasons, as different unique characteristics come out. During this visit, I witnessed some red and orange leaves, but didn't quite see the extent that the leaves change to in fall. I'll be eager to visit in winter to see the trees lightly dusted with white snow and again the the spring to enjoy Japan's famous cherry blossom trees. It is a place that can be explored again and again, getting lost on purpose in it's carefully planned out labyrinth  that is a testament  to nature.