Ritsurin Garden is the largest Cultural Property Garden in all of Japan, and is an important cultural asset that has been maintained for nearly 400 years. Originally created in the Edo period for the daimyo (feudal lord), the garden features six ponds and thirteen landscaped hills in front of the green vista of Mt. Shiun, along with stunning rock arrangements and a wide variety of beautiful plants. Seasonal flowers and one thousand carefully maintained pine trees create gorgeous scenery that changes throughout the seasons. The garden was designed to be leisurely strolled through, and each step offers a new perspective on the garden's scenery. Passed down through the generations, Ritsurin Garden is truly an invaluable cultural treasure.
It is believed that Ritsurin Garden was originally created in the late 16th century, from a garden belonging to the Sato Clan located in the southwest corner of the present garden. What is now the Nanko Pond was created around 1625, when Takatoshi Ikoma ruled the Sanuki Province (present-day Kagawa). In 1642, Yorishige Matsudaira began ruling the Takamatsu Domain and inherited the garden. He and the successive generations of his family kept developing the garden over the years, and the 60 scenic spots were named when the domain’s fifth lord, Yoritaka Matsudaira, was in power in 1745. The Matsudaira clan used Ritsurin Garden as their private retreat for 228 years, over 11 generations, until it became open to the public as a prefecturally-owned garden in 1875. In 1953, the garden was officially designated as a Special Place of Scenic Beauty by the national government's Agency for Cultural Affairs.
Total Area: About 75 hectares (185 acres)
Garden Area: About 16 hectares (40 acres)
In France’s “Michelin Green Guide Japan,” Ritsurin Garden was given the guidebook’s highest rating of three stars, meaning it is “worth a special journey.”
Although “Ritsurin” literally means “chestnut grove,” since its earliest days Ritsurin Garden has always featured many pine trees. Today, there are about 1,400 pines in the garden, and about 1,000 of them are carefully kept pruned by skilled gardeners. These pine trees have been painstakingly maintained for over 300 years, and their beautiful bonsai-like appearance is a testament to the many years of highly skillful tending.