Elegantly landscaped with beautiful pine trees that shine with bright hues of green against the sunlight, Ritsurin Garden offers visitors a delightful stroll and a pleasurable boat ride.
Date Visited: April 26, 2019
I arrived in Takamatsu from Tokyo on a Monday morning, fresh from a night bus ride which was as comfortable as night buses could get. I wanted to get right to exploring but not so much as to tire myself; I was on Day 1 of an 11-day journey, thanks to the alignment of the stars, or more specifically, the holidays of Golden Week. Ritsurin Garden is a short distance from Takamatsu Station and it opens as early as 5:30 a.m., which makes it a good spot to kick off a long trip.
Fifty Shades of Green
Fifty shades may be an exaggeration and a misplaced pun, perhaps, but one of the unmistakable charms of Ritsurin is that it is a striking sea of green hues that please the eyes. Those who are in need of a calming environment will find respite in a leisurely stroll, the footpaths easy with a few inclines.
Among the garden’s treasures are its century old pine trees, meticulously groomed for guests to see. You will find many magnificent red and black pines in the garden, and a few old ones that have turned to fossils over time.
Two Excellent Vantage Points
Ritsurin has two “mini Mt. Fuji’s” — easy slopes with peaks that afford visitors with sweeping views of the garden. One has a view of the wooden arch bridge and the red tsutsuji, while on top of the other, guests can take in a view of the red bridge.
Lovely Boat Ride
One of the main reasons why I opted to go to Ritsurin is that it offers a 30-minute boat ride around the garden on a wooden boat. The boat ride is an additional fee of ¥610 per adult, and I recommend buying the boat ticket along with the entrance pass, as you’ll have to choose the boarding time. It takes around 60 minutes to walk around the garden, so it would be wise to reserve 60-90 minutes ahead if you want to save the ride for last.
Tea and Sweets at Kikugetsu-tei
There are several places for rest and light snacks in the garden. The most recommended one is at Kikugetsu-tei, a traditional tea house that dates back to three centuries ago. The tea house sits at the heart of the garden and offers a lovely view as you drink your green tea. An additional entrance fee of ¥700 is required to go in the tea house, tea and Japanese sweets included.
One of the ways you can enjoy a visit to Ritsurin Garden is to don a kimono and take lots of photos. You can rent a kimono when you get to the park or reserve beforehand through VELTRA. Obviously, I opted to skip out on this one as having ridden a night bus right before does not put one in a mood to be all dolled up.
3-minute walk from JR Ritsurin Koen Kitaguchi Station
10-minute walk from Kotoden Ritsurin Koen Station
2-minute bus ride from JR Takamatsu Station
Volunteer English-speaking guides are available in the garden. They usually wear happi coats and are stationed near the ticket booth. In my experience, a jolly retiree approached me as I was taking photos and asked in English if he could guide me. I agreed and ended up learning more about the garden than I would have had I explored on my own.