Himeji #4 – Kōkoen Garden (好古園)

The eight smaller gardens are surrounded by formal walls and linked by passages. This one has also been featured on several TV dramas:

Kokoen - passage

Every now and then you get a glimpse of the white walls of the main castle:

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Edo-style gardens (1603-1867) are characterized as ‘strolling’ gardens which featured ponds, islands and small hills with meandering paths. This was one of the smaller ponds:

Kokoen - small garden pond

Kokoen - smaller garden stream

The garden offered certain viewpoints which often featured ‘borrowed landscape’ such as the castle:

Kokoen - smaller garden castle view

Keeping an eye on us:

Kokoen - smaller garden crow

Cherry blossoms:

Kokoen - smaller garden cherry blossom

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Kokoen - cherry blossom

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Himeji #3 – Kōkoen Garden (好古園)

Kokoen Garden is actually a collection of nine gardens laid on the site of the feudal lord’s west residence. Each garden is designed in a different Edo-era style.

This is the entrance to the smaller gardens:

Kokoen - entrance to smaller garden

Detail:

Kokoen - Lord's seal

This garden had a collection of scores of different varieties of cherry trees, some of which were blossoming. We were actually unlucky – two weeks later and the whole castle would have been blossoming.

Kokoen - cherry tree garden

The range of cherry blossoms is amazing – Japan has the most varieties in the world:

Kokoen - cherry blossom 1

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Kokoen - cherry blossom 3

Kokoen - cherry blossom 4

Kokoen - cherry blossom 5

 

Himeji #2 – Kōkoen Garden (好古園)

Right next to Himeji Castle is Kokoen, a garden opened in 1992 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the establishment of Himeji municipality.

This is the entrance to the garden:

Kokoen - Entrance

Blossoms near the entrance:

Kokoen - Blossoms near entrance

Stone fountain:

Kokoen - Stone fountain

The bridge crosses into the main part of the garden, which is the site of the former Lord’s residence:

Kokoen - Bridge to garden

The pond in the main garden:

Kokoen - Main garden pond

Giant koi carp:

Kokoen - Main garden koi

Waterfall:

Kokoen - Main garden waterfall

Getting ready:

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Himeji #1

On a short break we took the Shinkansen down to Himeji, in Hyogo just outside Osaka, to see the castle which had recently been cleaned and so was back to a bright white colour – hence its nickname “White Egret Castle”. The castle, a World Heritage site and the largest castle in Japan, dates back to a hill-fort built in 1333 and the castle seen today was built in 1601-1609. In 1871 it was bought at auction for 23 yen (about US$2,258 today)!

This is the castle seen along the main drag from the station:

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Sculpture along the street:

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The castle with the bridge across the moat and main gate:

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Selling ice-cream near the souvenir shops:

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