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Kairakuen or The Garden for Everyday People

One of the Three Great Gardens of Japan, the Mito City, Ibaraki based Kairakuen was opened in 1842 for the citizen’s enjoyment. Mito City’s feudal lord Nariaki Tokugawa designed the garden not just for the feudal class but for its citizens as well.

  • Kairakuen means “a garden for everyone’s pleasure” which is apparent in the garden’s layout. Since the garden looks more like a modern park than a landscape garden, visitors feel comfortable relaxing in the unpretentious atmosphere. The garden burned down in August 1945 and vast swathes were destroyed in the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake. Despite these tragedies, Kairakuen keeps bouncing back and has been completely restored to its original beauty.

    Kairakuen or The Garden for Everyday People

    Kairakuen or The Garden for Everyday People

    Visitors enter the park through the Omote-mon. This obelisk of a gate has been nicknamed “Kuromon”, or The Black Gate, due to its dark, unmissable color. While most of the garden was burned down in a World War II aerial attack, the Black Gate miraculously survived and is still erected in its original structure.

    Kairakuen or The Garden for Everyday People

    Kairakuen or The Garden for Everyday People

    Kobuntei, the three-story Edo-period style house on the grounds of Kairakuen, acted as Tokugawa’s house and headquarters where he would host parties with his fellow creatives back in the nineteenth century. The house was burned down during the World War II air raid but has now been restored and is open to the public. The house displays traditional shoji wall screens with hand-painted depictions of the seasons in Kairakuen. Every Sunday, the park hosts a tea ceremony which visitors are welcome to watch. The Kobuntei costs 200 yen for adults and 100 yen for Junior High students and younger. The opening hours are from 9am to 5pm from February 20th to September 30th, and 9am to 4:30pm from October 1st to February 19th.

    Kairakuen or The Garden for Everyday People

    Kairakuen or The Garden for Everyday People

    In Spring, the humble plum blossom, overshadowed by its lookalike, the cherry blossom, becomes the star attraction of Kairakuen Garden. Kairakuen boasts over 3,000 ume trees that bloom between February and March every year. This event is celebrated annually with the Mito Plum Blossom Festival where visitors can view nighttime illuminations and enjoy fireworks.

    Even if Kairakuen is most famous for its plum blossoms, its other year-round scenery should not be overlooked. The Mousou Bamboo Forest lies within the contours of the garden far from the bustling plum blossom trees. Tokugawa originally brought the bamboo from Kyoto and planted it for archery bow production. Now the bamboo is kept in its place and provides an atmospheric tranquility to the otherwise busy garden.

    Kairakuen or The Garden for Everyday People

    Kairakuen or The Garden for Everyday People

    Togyokusen is a hunk of limestone brought down from Ibaraki’s own Mt. Mayumi. Togyokusen is used to harvest fresh underground spring water and is rumored to alleviate poor eyesight. This has not been proven but the water was used abundantly in Kobuntei’s tea ceremonies. The spring produces over 100 tons of fresh water every day.

    Kairakuen or The Garden for Everyday People

    Kairakuen or The Garden for Everyday People

    The garden is open from 6am to 7pm from February 20th to September 30th, and 7am to 6pm from October 1st to February 19th. The park is only a thirty minute walk from Mito Station along the scenic Senba Lake. Alternatively, buses are available. Take any bus heading in the direction for Kairakuen for fifteen minutes and get off at the Kairakuen Mae stop. From Tokyo, Mito Station can be accessed via the JR Joban Line. It costs about 4,000 yen one way.

    Kairakuen or The Garden for Everyday People

    Kairakuen or The Garden for Everyday People

    Kairakuen
    Address
    Ibaraki Pref. Mitoshi Tokiwachou 1-3-3
    Phone
    0292445454
    Kairakuenkoubuntei
    Address
    Ibaraki Pref. Mitoshi Tokiwachou 1-chome 3-3
    Phone
    0292216570
    Mito
    Address
    Ibaraki Pref. Mitoshi Miyamachi 1-chome
    Phone
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