Shikoku: Ritsurin Koen

My Shikoku trip brought me to two very beautiful gardens. While Ritsurin-koen lacks the fame of Okayama's Korakuen, it has its own beauty and charm, especially being located next to a mountain.
 Ritsurin-koen is located in Takamatsu, a short walk from Ritsurinkoen Station on the local streetcar line. I arrived early in the morning, and had the park almost entirely to myself.
 I didn't see a lot of color in the garden, but there are lots of beautiful old trees, bushes, and paths.
 Timing may have been one of the reason I didn't see too much in bloom - these flowers look about ready to open.
 A little bit of pink in a green world.
 Oteue Matsu (The Hand Planted Pine Trees) are four trees planted about 100 years ago by royalty, including Prince Chichibu and the Prince of Wales.
 This is tsurukame-matsu, a pine tree with 110 stones set around it, meant to represent a crane spreading its wings on the back of a tortoise.
 Speaking of turtles, this guy was watching me from one of the ponds.
 More of the beautiful trees.
 Hokko (North Pond) is the second-largest in the garden, and offers the best views according to the park (from the west bank). I disagree... you'll see what I mean later.
 Many of the smaller ponds and streams are crossed via a diverse collection of bridges.
 There's a small red bridge over this stream.
 There are a few teahouses on the premises.
 This waterfall is man-made and was created for the local feudal lord. Water was hand-carried up the mountain. Today, of course, a pump is used.

 This is Kansuchi, which means "soaked in green". The name comes not from coloring of the water, but the reflection of trees and the mountain in the pond.
 I believe this pond offers the best views, from the west side toward Mt. Shiuin.

 I don't think any bridge in this garden is the same as another.
 Here is my favorite view, from the southwest corner of the garden. From here, you can catch a glimpse of three tea houses, a bridge, and several smaller ponds and islands.
 This view is in the same direction as the prior photo, but from the bottom of the hill at the water's edge.
The photos above focus on the southern Japanese-style garden; there is a Western-style garden in the north but I didn't make it up there. The park also houses a folk museum (closed when I visited but it was opening later in the day), shops, and rest houses.

It is possible to walk the two kilometer distance from Takamatsu Station to the park, following the long shopping arcade to avoid the heat. Taking the local Kotoden streetcar from Takamatsu Station, use the Kotohira Line, which takes about seven minutes and costs 190 yen (about 4 trains/hour); from Ritsurinkoen Station it's an additional 10 minute walk straight west. It's possible to take JR (local train toward Tokushima) to Ritsurinkoen-kitaguchi Station (five minutes, 210 yen, 2 trains per hour), which is about five minutes from the northern gate.

The park opens as early as 5:30 in summer, opening at 7:00 in the winter months; closing times vary (17:00-19:00 depending on the month). Admission is 410 yen.

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