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Regions of Japan

Hokkaido Tohoku Hokuriku
Shinetsu
Kanto Tokai Kansai Chugoku Shikoku Kyushu Okinawa Islands SAPPORO TOKYO NAGOYA OSAKA FUKUOKA FURANO KUSHIRO AOMORI SENDAI FUKUSHIMA NIKKO HAKONE SADO TAKAYAMA KANAZAWA ISE KYOTO NARA HIROSHIMA NAGASAKI KAGOSHIMA NAHA
Hokkaido
Hokkaido
  • Hokkaido
Sub-zero temperatures and the greatest of outdoor environments, complemented by sizzling soul food and warm-hearted welcomes. Japan's great white north offers wild, white winters and bountiful summers—a haven for dedicated foodies, nature lovers and outdoor adventure fans seeking an adrenaline rush
Tohoku
Tohoku
  • Aomori
  • Akita
  • Iwate
  • Yamagata
  • Miyagi
  • Fukushima
Sleek apple-red and electric-green shinkansen whisk you up to a haven of fresh powder snow, fresh fruit and fearsome folk legends Fearsome festivals, fresh powder and vast fruit orchards—the rugged northern territory of Tohoku offers a fresh perspective on travel in Japan
Hokuriku Shinetsu
Hokuriku Shinetsu
  • Niigata
  • Toyama
  • Ishikawa
  • Fukui
  • Nagano
Mountains and sea meet in one of Japan's wildest regions, and the result is sheer beauty. Once largely inaccessible, Hokuriku is now reachable by shinkansen from Tokyo in a matter of hours An easily accessible slice of rural Japan offering unrivaled mountainscapes and coastlines, endless outdoor adventure and amazing ocean fare
Kanto
Kanto
  • Tokyo
  • Kanagawa
  • Chiba
  • Saitama
  • Ibaraki
  • Tochigi
  • Gunma
Characterized by the constant buzz of the world's most populous metropolitan area, the Kanto region is surprisingly green with an array of escapes that include mountainous getaways and subtropical islands Experience diversity at its fullest, from the neon of Tokyo to the ski slopes of Gunma, exotic wildlife of the Ogasawara Islands and cultural heritage of Kamakura
Tokai
Tokai
  • Yamanashi
  • Shizuoka
  • Gifu
  • Aichi
  • Mie
Served by the shinkansen line that connects Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka, the Tokai region provides plenty of interesting diversions and easy excursions Tokai means "eastern sea," and this region stretches east from Tokyo to Kyoto and includes blockbuster attractions such as Mt. Fuji and Takayama
Kansai
Kansai
  • Kyoto
  • Osaka
  • Shiga
  • Hyogo
  • Nara
  • Wakayama
From raucous nights out to outdoor thrills to peaceful reverie, trying to categorize the Kansai region is a futile task The Kansai region is one of extreme contrasts—the neon lights of Osaka and glittering Kobe nightscape, the peaceful realms of Shiga, Wakayama and Nara, and the cultured refinement of Kyoto
Chugoku
Chugoku
  • Tottori
  • Shimane
  • Okayama
  • Hiroshima
  • Yamaguchi
Less-traveled and delightfully inaccessible at times, the Chugoku region is a reminder that the journey is sometimes more important than the destination Welcome to Japan's warm and friendly western frontier, where the weather is warmer and the pace of life is slower
Shikoku
Shikoku
  • Tokushima
  • Kagawa
  • Ehime
  • Kochi
Providing the stage for literary classics, fevered dancing and natural wonders Island-hopping, cycling, soul-warming spiritual strolling and red-hot dancing—the island of Shikoku gets you up and moving
Kyushu
Kyushu
  • Fukuoka
  • Saga
  • Nagasaki
  • Oita
  • Kumamoto
  • Miyazaki
  • Kagoshima
Easily reached by land, sea and air, the dynamic Kyushu prefectures are bubbling with energy, culture and activity The southern island of Kyushu is home to volcanoes ranging from sleepy to smoky, succulent seafood, steaming hot springs and the country's hottest entrepreneurial town
Okinawa
Okinawa
  • Okinawa
Ruins and recreated castles of the Ryukyu kings nestle amid magnificent beaches in Okinawa, a diver's paradise teeming with an amazing array of coral and undersea life Fly to Okinawa and discover a distinct island culture born of subtropical sun, white sand, coral, mangrove jungles and the age of the Ryukyu Kings

Nature

Ritsurin Park 栗林公園

Splendid Japanese landscape gardening

Considered to be one of Japan's finest gardens and designated as a special place of scenic beauty, Ritsurin Koen Park is located in the city of Takamatsu. Set against the backdrop of Mt. Shuin, the park features six ponds and 13 landscaped hills. The park is designed so that the scenery around you changes with each step you take.

Bursting with seasonal flowers, special illumination events take place for viewing the trees after dark during the cherry blossom season. In fall, visitors are treated to the rich and vibrant hues of maple leaves and other autumnal foliage. Ritsurin Koen Park is a must for those wanting to experience a traditional Japanese garden without the crowds of some of the other famous gardens.

Tips

  • Sipping matcha tea in stately surroundings
  • An extraordinary collection of meticulously pruned old pines
  • Viewing the gardens from a traditional wasen boat
  • Glimpsing Nanko Pond through morning mist

How to Get There

Ritsurin Koen Park lies roughly two kilometers from JR Takamatsu Station. Visitors can walk most of the way via a covered shopping arcade. You can also reach the gardens by train.

By train, take the Kotoden train from Takamatsu-Chikko Station to Ritsurin Koen Station; the park's main entrance is approximately a 10-minute walk away. Alternatively, take a local JR train from Takamatsu Station to Ritsurinkoen-Kitaguchi. You can reach the park's northern entrance in about five minutes.

Gardens fit for a lord

A private retreat for generations since landscaping began in 1642 under local clan leaders, Ritsurin Koen Park opened to the public in 1875. Rent an audio guide (available in seven languages) and take a leisurely stroll to learn more about the park's fascinating history. Maps explaining the backstory behind specific trees, sites and Kikugetsu-tei teahouse are also available at park entrances.

A quintessential Japanese teatime experience

For a small admission fee visitors can enter the Kikugetsu-tei teahouse. Sit down on traditional tatami flooring and enjoy drinking powdered green tea on the veranda, while overlooking the main pond.

Make waves across the pond

Embrace the role of a feudal lord and relax on a guided traditional wasen boat ride. Afterwards stop by the Sanuki Folk Craft Museum and learn about the local folk crafts on display, such as ceramic and wood products.

Points of view

There are several scenic viewing points around Ritsurin Koen Park, but one of the best vistas is from Hirai-ho Hill. This landscaped hill is one of the highest points in the gardens and is said to resemble Mt. Fuji.

Also worth a visit is Hanashobu-en, home to around 4000 irises. The park has many beautiful trees, including over 1000 perfectly pruned pines. The most famous of these is the Neagari Goyo-matsu white Pine, originally a bonsai tree presented as a gift from the Tokugawa Shogun in 1833.

Misty memories

A top tip for visitors to Ritsurin Koen Park is to go early in the morning. You can access the park from 7am, the best time to catch a glimpse of the eerie mist that hangs over the ponds. Afterwards stop by the Hana Zen-tei building for a hot bowl of morning porridge (reservations required).

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