Kokoen Garden

After our ice creams, we headed across the Sannomaru Square, and back through the Otemon gate and over the Sakura-bashi Bridge, and headed west to the Kokoen Garden, which is only a short walk away from Himeji Castle.                                                                                                  

As mentioned, previous we had already purchased our combined ticket for both the Himeji Castle and the Kokoen Garden…so we passed through the admission entrance into the first part of the garden. Kokoen is located across the castles western moat and a relatively recent construction, opening in 1992 and built on the former site of the former samurai quarters. There are nine separate walled gardens in various Edo Period (1600 -1860) styles and techniques. With the gardens also being used in Japanese historical dramas and movies. 

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From the “Landscaped Garden” next was the “The Garden of Summer Trees” where seasonable scenery can be enjoyed, being full of beautiful autumn colour when we visited. “The Garden of Pines Trees” was next, which is a pleasant garden with amazing pine trees…the name gives it a way a bit! Next was “The Garden of Flowers” that contains Edo Period flowering plants, shrubs and trees, which we couldn’t appreciated fully being it was the autumn when we visited but are said to be stunning. 

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The last garden was the “The Garden of Bamboo” which contains more Japanese garden features and of course a collection of different bamboo varieties. 

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So, with the setting sun we headed back to our hotel and after a quick freshen up headed back out for an evening meal and a couple of beers, to finish off a fantastic day!

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Kokoen Garden Entrance

The first garden led us through a traditional building and onto a veranda, which sat over a pond…and wow! The garden was amazing! The traditional building is the “Cho-on-sai Guest House”, with this garden being named “The Garden of the Lords Residence” and is the biggest garden in Kokoen, featuring ponds, waterfalls, about 250 koi, stones, pruned trees, and stunning autumn foliage… the gardens are a ‘stroll’ type garden and each garden leads into the next and are just amazing! 

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From this garden it led us to “The Garden of Seedlings” or Nae-no-niwa, which is a seedling garden of plants that were grown in the Edo Period. “The Garden of Seedlings” then led into the immaculate kept “Tea Ceremony Garden” which faces the main keep of the castle. From there this garden led into the “Landscaped Garden” which has a nice natural atmosphere and a county style garden. 

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The next garden was another stunning one, named “The Garden with a Hill and Pond” which pretty much explains the garden! The garden had a pond with steppingstones, a tea house and more amazing pine trees!

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The gardens don’t have to be viewed in order, but we found this was the best way not to miss anything, being it is a bit of a maze… The last garden then led us back to the admission entrance where we had started. The gardens with their historical atmosphere where just amazing, with the stunning Himeji Castle in the background, of which we spent a good half a day exploring the gardens until the sun started to set…

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Combined with Himeji Castle and the Kokoen Garden, we had an absolutely fantastic day that we fully enjoyed…certainly helped with the stunning weather! 

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Please find our other Kyoto articles in the 'Himeji' section of the website.

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