Ritsurin Garden is the main attraction and the heart of Takamatsu City, just a few kilometers south of the train station. Visitors come from all over the world to view the popular gardens. The park is open year round from dawn until dusk, and the garden is often lit up and open late. Visitors surge during cherry blossom season, the holiday seasons, and when the leaves change in fall.
Ritsurin Garden was built by a succession of feudal lords over a period that stretched from 1625 to 1745. It was not opened to the public until 1875. There is a story that one of the feudal lords would give rewards to peasants who brought beautiful stones from areas throughout Shikoku to be used in the park. This park has stood for nearly 400 years and has been shaped by generations. It is filled with beautiful sights and settings that enchant and encourage visitors to explore the entire grounds of this massive park.
Ritsurin is a strolling-style landscape garden that incorporates hills, slopes, ponds, bridges, and traditional structures. There is also a beautiful mountain nearby setting the perfect backdrop. The first major feature of this park that one sees when they enter is hundreds of well-tended pine trees. These trees are perfectly maintained, with twisting branches spreading in impossible ways, displaying the beautiful and complex Japanese gardening aesthetic. There are hundreds of cherry blossom trees, lilies, ginkgo trees, and Japanese maples throughout the garden as well.
There are multiple walking courses through the gardens, and relaxing pole-boat tours along the ponds in the southwest portion of the park. The boat tours are only 610 yen for adults and take off every thirty minutes from 9:00 am until closing time.
Another great way to enjoy the scenery is at the tea house, Kikugetsu-tei. For a modest price one can enjoy tea in this beautiful building. The tea house is surrounded by its own gardens and sits nearby on the largest of the ponds. This is a must stop for fully taking in the natural environment and is great for resting your feet after a long stroll.
Several other buildings are spread throughout the park in the form of miniature visitor centers. These visitor shacks sell anything from udon to conical sedge hats. They also specialize in hand-made parasols, roasted sticks of dango, painted paper fans, and other traditional craft goods. These are great places to get a snack as well and have everything from rice crackers to ice cream. Beverages are also sold including the local Sanuki draft beer. Lastly, these shops also sell food to feed to the koi fish.
The Sanuki Folk Craft Museum is a free museum located on the grounds filled with local, traditional crafts. These crafts may include ceramics, ornate flags, lacquerware, and much more.