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Kenroku-en (兼六園, "The Garden of the Six Attributes") is one of the three Great Gardens of Japan, along with Kairaku-en in Mito and Kōraku-en in Okayama. Kenroku-en is located in Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefecture, and was founded in the early 17th century the Maeda clan who ruled the Kaga Domain until the Meiji Restoration. Both, Maeda Toshitsune (前田利常, 1594-1658), the second Kaga daimyō, and Maeda Tsunanori (前田綱紀, 1643-1724) are credited as the founders of the gardens. Tsunanori, the third daimyō, is said to have built the Renchiochin house in 1676. The garden was greatly expanded by the 11th daimyō, Maeda Narinaga (前田斉広, 1782-1824) and his son Nariyasu (前田斉泰, 1811-1884).

Based on a description of the Luoyang Gardens of the Chinese Sung dynasty, the name 'Kenroku-en' (literally "combined six") refers to the six attributes mandatory to attain horticultural perfection: spaciousness, antiquity, artificiality, abundant waterways, broad views and seclusion. The garden stretches over more than 100,000 square metres and is without a doubt one of the most spectacular daimyō gardens in Japan. It was situated outside Kanazawa Castle and served as a secondary residence to the daimyō.

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Kasumi Pond with the Kotoji-tōrō stone lantern (photo credit: bryan - CC BY-SA)

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The Uchihashi-tei Tea House at the Kasumi Pond.

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Waterways are abundant.

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A statue of Yamato Takeru, a legendary prince of the Yamato dynasty. It was erected in 1880 to commemorate the Ishikawa warriors who died in the Satsuma Rebellion of 1877.

Seisonkaku Villa

The Seisonkaku was built in 1863 by Maeda Nariyasu, the twelfth daimyō of the Kaga Domain, as a retirement domicile for his mother, Shinryu-in. It was constructed on the remains of the former Takezawa Palace and comprises some 7,000 square metres, 1,000 of which are floor space.

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The nameplate at the entrance of Seisonkaku

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The Buke-shoin (state chamber) on the groundfloor.

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The entire building is covered with wooden roof shingles.

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This 'Gosho doll' (御所人形 Gosho ningyō, "imperial doll") was a present of the Tokugawa shogun to Nariyasu when he married the shogun's daughter. It was believed to prevent fires.

More images in the Kenroku-en gallery.

Links:
Admission:
310 JPY (adults), 100 JPY (children age 6-17); group rates 250JPY resp. 80 JPY per person; free admission for senior citizens over 65 (produce your passport). Kenrokuen+1 Tickets cost 500 JPY and allow admission to Kenrokuen Garden and one more cultural facility within Kanazawa.

Most entrances to the garden are wheelchair-friendly. No pets and no smoking.

Opening hours:
07:00-18:00 (Mar 1 - Oct 15); 08:00-17:00 (Oct 16 - Feb 28/29); Shigurei-tei tea house: 09:00 - 16:30 (last entry 16:00, closed Dec 29 - Jan 3).

Seisonkaku:
Open 09:00-17:00 (last entry 16:30); Wednesdays and Dec. 29 - Jan. 2 closed; admission: 700 JPY (adults and university students), 300 JPY (high-school students), 250 JPY (children); discounts for groups of over 20.


Map: