Ritsurin Park is located in Takamatsu City, Kagawa Prefecture. At around 75 hectares, this huge area is one of the prefecture's municipal parks. A beautiful Japanese garden, the park has been registered as a National Place of Scenic Beauty.
It is often said that Ritsurin Park is on par with Japan's Three Great Gardens, Kenrokuen Garden in Kanazawa, Kairakuen Garden in Mito and Korakuen Garden in Okayama.
A feudal garden belonging to the Matsudaira clan of the old Edo period Takamatsu province, Ritsurin Park has a history of around four hundred years. A huge number of pine trees have been planted in the park, including the distinctive tsurukame-matsu pine tree and the hakomatsu box pine trees.
The black tsurukame-matsu tree stands within around 110 stones arranged into the shape of a turtle. The tree appears like a crane fluttering its wings. Tsuru means crane while kame means turtle. The hakomatsu box pine trees are so named because they look like boxes. Extremely rare, they've been continuously maintained for more than three hundred years and looking down their line, they form a deep continuous tunnel.
As you walk throughout the park, you will come across some beautiful scenery of a lovely bridge on a pond. The bridge is known as the Engestukyo Bridge. Keep walking and you can also see a heart-shaped 'love azalea' plant. Its shape was created by accident during the pruning process and is very pretty when it turns pink in the spring season. During my visit, the colour was turning to green but the azalea was still quite attractive.
The park also features some volunteer staff who can help guide visitors and provide information about the park. The park is also home to a souvenir shop where you can pick up a few memories to take back home with you.
Find out more about Ritsurin Garden.