Bask in Traditional Beauty at a Vast Japanese Garden

Seasonal elegance and classic architecture are on full display at Sankeien in Yokohama

A Japanese garden changes subtly with the seasons, and a particularly spacious and stunning one is Yokohama’s Sankeien. Constructed by the Hara family in the early 1900s over the course of twenty years, the garden–part of which was once a private sanctuary for the silk merchant Sankei Hara–is now open to all throughout the year.

Repeat visits are recommended as the landscape blooms and bursts forth with a variety of colors depending on the season. Spring is a highlight as the cherry blossoms shower the grounds with a flurry of pink petals, while the fall foliage display put on by the garden’s maples in late November is an equally stunning sight. Special events on the annual calendar include early-morning lotus viewing in the summer as well as full moon activities around the autumn equinox.

The garden boasts a whopping 17 buildings of historical importance, an impressive feat for a site that experienced significant damage during World War II. Such architecture highlights an Edo period (1603-1868) gassho thatched roof-style home from Gifu Prefecture that was relocated to the garden in 1960, and the 550-year-old three-story pagoda relocated here from Kyoto's old Tomyoji Temple, the oldest wooden structure of its kind in the Kanto area of eastern Japan.

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