Kenrokuen Garden, Kanazawa

One of the Three Great Gardens of Japan, Kenrokuen Garden, located in the town of Kanazawa, is a beautiful strolling style landscape garden dating from the Edo period. Opened to the public in 1874, these 11.4 hectares located on the heights of the central part of the city next to Kanazawa Castle centers around a large pond called Kasumigaike. An island in the center of the pond, on which an ageless hermit with miraculous power was once believed to live, was originally constructed in hope for the long life and eternal prosperity of the governing lord. Kenrokuen, which means "having six factors", was given the name because of the six attributes that bring out the perfect landscape of the garden: spaciousness, tranquility, artifice, antiquity, water features, and magnificent panoramas. A stone lantern designed in the image of the Japanese koto (harp), sits by the main pond and has since become the symbol of Kenrokuen Garden.

Taking a stroll along the many winding paths, you can enjoy the beauty of the flowers and trees, such as plum and cherry blossoms in spring, azaleas and irises early in summer, and colorful red and yellow leaves in autumn. The Flying Geese Bridge (Gankō-bashi), made of eleven red stones, is laid out to resemble geese in a flying formation. A fountain created using the natural pressure of water flowing from the higher Kasumigaike pond, is said to be the oldest fountain in all of Japan. Normally 3.5 meters high, the height changes depending on the level of the pond above.

While almost all of the trees in the garden are uniquely propped up using wooden poles, in winter you have the opportunity to view the yukitsuri or "snow hanging"—a method of protecting the branches of the pine trees in the garden with ropes attached to the trees in a conical array to prevent the branches from breaking. Before leaving the gardens, be sure to stop at the Shiguretei Tea House and take part in a tranquil green tea ceremony.