Being a tourist in a big metropolis like Tokyo or Yokohama can be overwhelming. As a result, it might be hard to relax. Lucky, Japan is good at offering a haven of peace in the heart of its varied and outstanding landscapes in the form of gardens. One of these said gardens is Sankeien Garden in Yokohama. The beautifully landscaped garden offers immaculate garden, beautiful flowers, small streams and nice walking trails.
- 1 History of Sankeien Garden
- 2 Beautiful garden all year around
- 3 What to see / Highlights
- 4 Practical information
History of Sankeien Garden
Sankeien is a beautiful and spacious garden, about 175,000 square meters. The garden which can be considered a park by its size was the private home of Tomitaro “Sankei” Hara, a very wealthy silk merchant. Sankeien was built in two sections, the inner and outer garden. The former was opened to the public in 1906.
As well as being a successful businessman, Sankei was also a
Beautiful garden all year around
The beauty of Japanese gardens is that they can be enjoyed no matter the season. We visited the garden in November, therefore we were able to enjoy the changing colour of leaves (momiji). There was a Chrysanthemum exhibition in the outer garden which was beautiful.
I can only imagine how beautiful the garden will be in winter, all covered in white snow. In late February, the many plum (ume) trees will start to bloom, almost as if announcing the beginning of spring. They will be followed by the cherry blossoms (sakura) the most magical time to be in Japan. I would love to be there to see and experience hanami! In summer, you can see iris, lotus flowers and fireflies.
There’s a range of events taking place throughout the year highlighting the different seasons. Be sure to check out the garden’s event page for more information.
What to see / Highlights
Stroll around the blissful Sankeien Garden
Sankeien Garden in Yokohama is one of the most beautiful gardens in Japan. The park is so peaceful and quiet that you can easily spend 3 hours there.
The first scenery that caught our attention was the beautiful
Oike Pond offering a great view to the three-story Pagoda of Old Tomyoji temple.
Since the garden is so beautiful, there were several wedding photo shoots taking place. We noticed at least 10 newlyweds in their beautiful kimonos and hakamas. The brides’ kimonos were intricate, beautiful and radiant just like their smiles. I have to say that with the ponds, bridge and traditional buildings as a backgrounds, I would want to take mine there too. The place really gives off a sense of “Japan”.
Sankeien is a great place for nature or history lovers but also a place to take kids. There is a little activity that kids would love to partake in. There is a kiosk by Oike pond where you can buy “esa” (bait) to feed the turtles and carps. Both the koi and turtles were fun to watch and feed. The cute turtles tried their best to get some piece of bread but were not always successful.
Join a tea ceremony or try a bowl of noodle
There are several eateries on the grounds of Sankeien Garden. Visitors can join “chanoyu” or tea ceremony and learn all about the rituals of preparing, serving and drinking green tea according to the traditional principles. Tea ceremony s offered by Tea House Bootei located in the Sankeien Memorial Museum. For something more consistent, there are Karigne Chaya, a quaint ramen shop, Sankeien Saryo specialising in dango ( a Japanese dumpling and sweet made from mochiko, similar to mochi). We skipped both places in favour of Taishuken. This restaurant surrounded by tall trees is full of character. It’s in this restaurant that they created Sankei’s favourite broth-less noodle.
Marvel at the former Yanohara Family House
Sankeien has one of the largest gassho zukuri-style houses in Japan. The Yanohara house once belonged to a prosperous farmer. It’s open to the public, so it’s possible to explore the inside. A tall and sloped thatched roof characterises this type of homes. Houses like these are typically on two floors. First floor being used for living and the second for storage. The Yanohara was initially built in the traditional village of Shirakawago, one of UNESCO’s world heritage sites in Gifu Prefecture.
Explore historic buildings like Choshukaku and Rinshunkaku
Sankeien exhibits 17 historical and cultural buildings moved to the garden from various locations around Japan. Among them are several tea houses, a former daimyo (feudal lord) residence, three-storied pagoda. Rinshunkaku, located in the inner garden, was built in Wakayama Prefecture in 1649 for the feudal lord of the Kishu Tokugawa clan and then moved to Sankeien in 1917. They decorated the room beautifully.
The building I liked the most is the Choshukaku, also built during the Edo period. It has a unique design and was once located in the Nijojo Castle in Kyoto.
Sankeien Garden is located in the southern part of Yokohama. From Yokohama station, take the East Exit Bus Station and walk to Bus Platform 2. From there take either bus number 8 or 148 and get off at “Honmoku Sankeien Mae” or “Sankeien Iriguchi”. The garden is less than 10 minutes walk from the bus stop. The bus journey takes about 35-40 minutes, costs 220 Yen each way and runs frequently.
Entry to the garden is 700 Yen for adults and 200 Yen for under 14 years old. It’s open all year round from 9 am to 5 pm except for December 29th to 31st. More details like scheduled events or a map of the garden can be found on the Sankeien Garden official website.
Address: 58-1, Honmoku Sannotani, Naka-ku, Yokohama, 231-0824
To sum up, Sankeien Garden in Yokohama is a beautiful garden worth a visit. We thoroughly enjoyed our visit: it wasn’t crowded, and the weather was beautiful. It’s interesting to see that such a serene and peaceful place is located in such a big city.