The garden was silent. The ground was blanketed with snow. The glimmering park was mirrored in the surface of the pond.
Delicate pink buds peeked from icy cocoons. Some brave plum blossoms became early bursts of colour in the winter white.
Footsteps were erased with mere moments of snow fall, as if the crowds had not come and gone with the sun.
And overlooking it all, ancient pines rose to the heavens, still like stone, bound in conical towers; wise with centuries of mediation in their Edo wonderland.
The tranquil and measured perfection of Kenroku-en left me stunned. As I stood in awe of each balanced branch and mossy root, I felt as if time had frozen and all hints of chaos had slipped from my mind.
I was lucky to arrive as the snow fall quickened, sending the mob of tourists towards shelter and leaving me to roam the gardens in icy peace.
I’d heard of the beauty in these gardens, of its famous yukitsuri method of roping pine branches in winter, and sheer visual perfection that had earnt it a reliable reputation as one of the greatest Edo gardens in Japan. Seeing it though, surpassed all my hopes.
Established in 1676 and expanded for a couple centuries to follow, this land had seen things, and I felt satisfyingly small in the shadow of time. This was certainly one of my favourite experiences in Japan.
- Arrive early to avoid the crowds. This is one place you should be still and silent. From October to February the garden is open 8am to 5pm, and the rest of the year it is open 7am to 6pm.
- The ticket is worth it. 310 Yen is value just for the meditative effect, let alone watching the gardeners meticulously tend the grounds.
- Wander through the neighbouring Kanazawa Castle Park for free, which is also pretty in a blanket of snow (but nothing compared to Kenroku-en).