Jul 29, 2019

Kairakuen Garden, Mito

Gallery - Kairakuen Garden, Mito

The summer heat finally arrived in Tokyo with people feeling like melting where ever they go. If you have problems with the humid hot climate of summer in Japan like me, it is always a good idea to look for good alternatives to cool off a bit. The northern part of Japan is luckily still a little bit fresher and can be reached easily from Tokyo by train or car for a day trip.

My goal for the last Sunday was the small town of Mito, which is located in the prefecture of Ibaraki, just two hours away from Tokyo by car.

Mito is very popular for its Kairakuen Garden where you can enjoy thousands of beautiful plum trees with over one hundred different varieties during the spring time, but also in summer or autumn the garden is really a nice place.

Kairakuen Garden, Mito photo
Just next to the bus stop of Kairakuen Station is the very impressive Tokiwa Shrine, which was founded in 1875. The shrine is enshrined by Tokugawa Nariaki (the founder of the nearby Kodokan school) and Tokugawa Mitsukuni (daimyo of the Mito area). There is also a small Inari shrine with small red gates, which make for a very nice photo spot.

The main entrance of Kairakuen Garden is just next to the shrine on a small hill. The park opened in 1942 and was not built only for feudal lords (like Kenrokuen in Kanazawa and Korakuen in Okayama) but also for commoners. Tokugawa Nariaki started the landscape gardening project, because he wanted to have a garden which can be enjoyed by everyone.  You will find modern designs as well as formal landscapes of Japanese Gardens at Kairakuen.

Besides the beautiful plum trees in spring, you can also enjoy a bamboo grove (which looks kind of similar to the one in Arashiyama, Kyoto), cedar woods, cherry blossoms, azaleas and Japanese clovers during the four seasons.

The best part of Kairakuen Garden for me was the beautiful Kobuntei, which is a historic three-story wooden building. Tokugawa Nariaki also created the building and set the location of the building in the garden. Writers and artists were invited to the house, where Tokugawa hosted parties and events. In 1945 the building was completely burned down as a result of an aerial attack, but was rebuilt in 1955.  The name of the place is just another name for Japanese plums, which originated from China.

The house can be visited for a small few of 200 yen. There are several private rooms of the lord and his wife. In particular, all the beautiful paintings (cherry blossoms, red Japanese maple trees, bamboo trees…) on the walls and doors make it really worth a visit. Also the great view over the nearby garden and the Senba Lake is really impressive.
You can also find many unique Japanese design elements in the rooms like the different designed doors made of bamboo or cedar wood. The third floor of the building also has a very beautiful round window, which is perfect for photos.

Kairakuen Garden can be reached from Mito Station (Joban Line, Mito Line, Suigun Line or Oarai-Kashima Line) by bus in around 15 minutes or on foot in around 30 minutes. There are several frequent busses, which are running from the north exit, especially during the plum peak season. Just next to the garden is also the Kairakuen station. Unfortunately trains are stopping there only during the plum blossom season in February and March.



I´m a german girl living in the center of Tokyo, but my true love belongs to the countryside of Japan (especially Chiba and Hokkaido). I love traveling in Japan and explore hidden areas.
I want to help people with my articles to get in touch with the Japanese culture and all the beautiful places you can explore.

Besides traveling around, I love trains, handcraft and my little rabbits.