Kenruoken, Kanazawa, Japan

From the Sublime to the Ridiculous

Words & Pictures: Arabella Sock

Kanazawa is home to Kenruoken one of Japan’s top three gardens.¬† Defined as a ‘stroll’ garden the name means “Garden of the Six Sublimities”¬†encompassing the six attributes of a perfect Japanese landscape garden: spaciousness, seclusion, artifice, antiquity, watercourse and panoramas.¬†

Perfection is key to Kenruoken ‚Äď Autumn tints the trees with vibrant colour but the¬† leaves are quickly swept from the watercourse and walkways.¬† In spring the garden workers will sweep the fallen blossom from the cherry trees lining the stream.¬† Winter snow gives the garden its own white beauty and the trees are trussed with sculptural supports to stop the weight of it breaking branches. In summer the cool woodland and shaded pools present perfect respite from the heat. Sit in the shade and contemplate the antiquity of the oldest fountain in Japan.

Don’t forget to partake of refreshment at the lovely tea house where your kimono clad hostesses will guide you through the tea ceremony.

Not to be Missed

Kanazawa is packed with interesting markets and museums.¬† The 90 minute tour of the fascinating Myoryuji ‘Ninja’ Temple with its secret defensive tricks and traps shouldn’t be missed. The tour is in Japanese but an informative written translation given in English.¬† Book in advance at the Tourist Office, Kanazawa Station ‚Äď English spoken.


Kenruoken perfectly fulfills five sublimities – failing only on seclusion. Visit early before the noisy guided tours arrive or move away from the central ‘Lantern’ Lake to the peaceful plum grove

For a more ridiculous, pointless but fun experience in your hire car take a spin on the Chirihama Beach Drive. Does what it says on the can – eight kilometres of beach, you drive on it!

And be as adventurous as you can in your menu choices. I totally regret not trying the extraordinarily bright coloured baby Octopii on a stick and will have to go back to Japan just to rectify this omission.

How to Get There

The city of Kanazawa in the Ishikawa Prefecture of Japan is home to Kenruoken Gardens.  Located on a gently sloping hill to the east of Kanazawa centre they form part of the parklands surrounding Kanazawa Castle.  A regular shuttle bus service leaves from Kanazawa station or it is around 3kms (40 minutes) walking distance.  The station houses an excellent Tourist Information Office (English Spoken) where they can advise and book advance tickets for the many interesting sights the city has to offer.