Having paid our entrance fee (¥310 or £2) we got a map for the “Kenroku-en Gardens”:http://www.pref.ishikawa.jp/siro-niwa/kenrokuen/e/index.html in Kanazawa said to be ‘designated as a cultural property and national site of special scenic beauty’.
Having only just arrived, we continued past the tea house and up to the Sazaeyama viewing area where after climbing a circular ramp to the top (not as bad as I’d feared), we had good views over the rest of the gardens.
Back down we passed what it said to be the oldest fountain in Japan (the question, how do they know? Came to mind), up to the panoramic viewing area where there were lots of seats offering a view of the city in one direction and the gardens in the other. The sun was unseasonably shining, the sky was cloudless and my padded ski- jacket was soon off.
The gardens were easy to navigate thanks to the map and there were lots of well laid out paths, trees, ponds, streams and bridges. Because of the winter weather many of the trees had either thatch cladding or ‘tee pee strings’ to prevent branches breaking during heavy snowfall. If you’re not sure what I mean, check out the photo.
There’s obviously a lot of work maintaining the garden and we saw two groups of men in action: one sweeping the stones at the bottom of a very shallow stream and another picking what looked like moss painstakingly from the grass by hand. Both looked like labours of love.
On our way out, we walked through the Japanese plum grove with 20 different species and 200 trees, many of which were just coming into blossom. We heard someone say that the plum blossom is more interesting than cherry because it has so many different colours.
Passing the tea house and souvenir shops on our way out, we decided not to stop as we wanted to walk back via the Castle but unfortunately we’d spent so long in the gardens we didn’t have time to explore before catching the lunchtime bus to Kyoto.