Ritsurin Park – 栗林公園
This time we are going to write about Ritsurin Park, located in Takamatsu City, in Shikoku’s Kagawa Prefecture!
What’s special about Ritsurin Park?
Mito’s Kairaku-en, Kanazawa’s Kenroku-en, and Okayama’s Kōraku-en Parks are called “the three greatest gardens of Japan”. However, Takamatsu’s Ritsurin park, which will be introduced today, is said to have an equal charm, compared to those three big gardens, so that in 2009 this park got top marks as “a place worth visiting all the way” in Michelin’s tourist guide.
Ritsurin Park is the epitome of a Japanese traditional garden. Western and Japanese styled buildings and ponds can be found in it, and it is possible to see the close mount Shiun in the landscape from the park.
Ritsurin Park is very popular for hanami (cherry blossoms contemplation during spring), it is also very interesting to see the cherry trees enlightened at night. The park is very wide, its beauty is considered one of the highest among all the gardens of Japan. Due to its huge dimensions, Ritsurin Park is provided with rest areas here and there. Among these, there is a Japanese styled tea house where you can drink Japanese tea, like the famous matcha, while enjoying a beautiful view of the park.
How to get to Ritsurin Park
Ritsurin Park is located in Takamatsu City, in Shikoku’s Kagawa Prefecture. You can access Takamatsu by train, ferry and plane.
By train, you have to reach Okayama station first. You can easily get there by Shinkansen from Tōkyō, Ōsaka and Western Japan. At Okayama station, get on the Marin Liner Rapid train, and get off at the last stop, Takamatsu Station. The journey price from Ōsaka is about 8.000 yen, including Nozomi Shinkansen and the Marin Liner, and it takes a couple hours.
Note that you can travel with no additional fee if you use the Japan Rail Pass (including the West Japan & Shikoku version), but you cannot ride the Nozomi and Mizuho fastest trains, so the journey time will require some additional ten minutes (you can ride on Sakura, Hikari and Kodama Shinkansens).
Since from Tōkyō it would take about 5 hours, travelling by plane would be probably more comfortable. You can then reach Takamatsu station by bus from Takamatsu Airport, which is linked to Tokyo Haneda Airport.
Information about buses can be found in the link below:
(http://tinyurl.com/c58fzsy at the top right you can click for the “English version”)
There’s also a ferry service to Takamatsu from Kōbe port: the one way fare is 1.800 yen, a roundtrip ticket costs 3.300 yen. Information about buses leaving from Kōbe port can be found in the link below
You can take a bus from Tōkyō and Ōsaka too.
Information about overnight buses leaving from Tōkyō can be found in the link below (in Japanese); the fare starts from 5.500 yen.
Ōsaka’s day bus fare is from about 2.600 yen.
Ritsurin park is located about 2 km south from Takamatsu Station. You can walk along the shopping district to reach the garden, but you can get closer to it also by JR line: take the Kōtoku Line heading to Tokushima Station and get off at Ritsurin Kōen Station. The park is 5 minutes walking from there.
Also, you can take the Kotoden tram running through Takamatsu city. You can take it at Takamatsu Chikkō Station, which is close to Takamatsu Station. The park is 10 minutes walking from the stop called Ritsurin Kōen. It’s comfortable to travel by tram across the city!
I visited Ritsurin park in the end of May, reaching it by the “Kotoden” tram (in the photo here is portrayed the rest of Takamatsu Castle, near the main station).
I paid 400 yen to enter the garden (now it should cost 410 yen, after the increasing of the consume tax).
The opening hours depend on the season, the official site says “almost from sunrise to sunset”.
Details can be found here: http://tinyurl.com/ktwban5
Different buildings are scattered around Ritsurin Park. You can find the Higurashitei Tea house, the Kagawa prefecture’s Shōkō Shōreikan (commerce and trade) museum and so on. I found the Folk Art Museum quite interesting: Sanuki Folk Art Museum shows pottery, furniture and woodwork, and about a thousand of items related to the old household.
There are also many ponds and different types of plants: it was particularly impressed from the huge pine-tree called Neagarigoyō-matsu. In the southern part of the park there is the small and beautiful Okedoi waterfall.
Ritsurin park is rich of water, which gather in big ponds, and lush green. There are also many bridges, they create a nice Japanese atmosphere.
Close to the eastern gate there is a place called Fuyōhō: with the aforementioned mount Shiun on the background, I could behold the central park of Ritsurin park from above.
Ritsurin Park is an incredible spot for taking pictures, or just for having a relaxing time inside nature and tradition, so I recommend you to visit it by all means!