Ritsurin Park 栗林公園
Splendid Japanese landscape gardening
Considered one of Japan's finest gardens, Ritsurin 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 Park is a must for those wanting to experience a traditional Japanese garden without the crowds of some of the other famous gardens.
- Sipping matcha tea in stately surroundings
- An extraordinary collection of meticulously pruned old pines
- Viewing the gardens from a traditional wasen boat
- Glimpsing at Nanko Pond through the morning mist
How to Get There
Ritsurin Park lies roughly two kilometers from 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. 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 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 Kikugetsutei teahouse are also available at park entrances.
A quintessential Japanese teatime experience
For a small admission fee, visitors can enter the Kikugetsutei 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. Afterward, 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 Park, but one of the best vistas is from Hiraiho 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 Hanashobuen, home to around 4,000 irises. The park has many beautiful trees, including over 1,000 perfectly pruned pines. The most famous of these is the Neagari Goyomatsu white Pine, originally a bonsai tree presented as a gift from the Tokugawa shogun in 1833.
A top tip for visitors to Ritsurin Park is to go early in the morning. You can access the park from 7 a.m., the best time to catch a glimpse of the eerie mist that hangs over the ponds. Then, stop by the Hana Zentei building for a hot bowl of morning porridge (reservations required).