History
Sights to See
Event
Access
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Ibaraki prefecture is not only home to nemophila fields and aquariums; it is also home to one of the three major traditional gardens in Japan, Kairakuen. Along with Kenrokuen in Kanazawa and Korakuen in Okayama, the city of Mito in Ibaraki prefecture boasts one of the most beautiful traditional Japanese gardens. Here at Kairakuen, you can experience Edo-style hospitality and serenity by just an hour train ride away from Tokyo. Visiting during the spring is especially recommended, as the garden has over 3,000 plum trees planted, ready to bloom in late February.

History of Kairakuen


View from inside one of the buildings

Kairakuen was made by the ninth chief of the Mito domain, Tokugawa Nariaki in 1842. It was the first of the three major traditional gardens to open. The three gardens each represented an important natural scenery: Kenrokuen for snow, Korakuen for the moon and Kairakuen for flowers. Even before it’s opening, plum trees were planted all over the city of Mito and in the area to be Kairakuen. Now, over 3,000 plum trees are planted in the area and blossom annually.

World's second largest parks: Kairakuen

The garden is surprisingly spacious, with its area measuring at 300 hectares. To put it in perspective, it is the second largest urban park in the world after New York’s Central Park! For Japanese readers, it might be easier to conceptualize its size by comparing it with how many Tokyo Domes it would fit in – being 64! Enjoy the numerous attractions, such as buildings, bamboo forest, and springs that Tokugawa Ienari designed himself.

Sights to see in Kairakuen

Kobuntei


Plum trees beneath the Kobuntei

If you enter from the south gate, you will come across the 3-story wooden building, Kobuntei. This building was designed by the creater of Kairakuen, Tokugawa Ienari. Inside, you can see tatamis with the Tokugawa's family crest, paintings on fusumas, and many more items that capture the atmosphere from the Edo period. Looking at the view of the park from the 3rd floor is enjoyable throughout all four seasons.

Fees: Adult: 200 JPY
Child: 100 JPY

Mousou Bamboo Forest


Mousou Bamboo Forest

The mousou bamboo forest awaits as you enter from the northernmost Omotemon Gate (表門). Mousou bamboo, or tortoiseshell bamboo, are planted alongside the entrance path of the park. These bamboo trees grow over 20 meters tall and are the tallest ones available in Japan.

Tozai Plum Forest


Plum forest in Kairakuen

The spacious plum garden in the northwestern side of the garden is the Tozai Plum Forest. Much of the plum trees in the Tozai Plum Forest blossom earlier than others, from mid January to mid February. Tozai Plum Forest is accessible directly from the Onarimon Gate (御成門).

Tazunaki Plum Forest


Tazunaki Plum Forest

The plum forest outside of Minamimon (south) gate is the Tazunaki Plum Forest. This plum forest is also a popular plum-seeing spot.

◾️Togyokusen

Togyokusen Spring

Togyokusen, located in the central are of the garden, was built using the high and low areas of the topography. The spring water is said to help with eye diseases, and therefore, is used in the tea water at the Kobuntei.

◾️玉龍泉
Gyokyuryusen, Japan's oldest fountain, was built at the same time as Togyokusen. This fountain has been getting a lot of attention for the great amount of naturally flowing water.

Events

Introducing the events at Kairakuen:

Mito Plum Festival (Feb. to Mar.)


Lit-up plum trees during the Plum Festival

The Mito Plum Festival is held in collaboration with Kodokan, the remains of the largest han school (daimyo school). During this season, the plum trees in the city are at their peak blossoming, and people from all over Japan come to see it. During March, some of the plum trees are lit up, making walks a little more romantic and special than usual.


Paper lanterns during the Night Plum Festival

Just once a year, the Night Plum Festival is held at Kairakuen. On this special night, paper lanterns are lit along with the illuminated plum trees. Don’t miss out on this dreamy night at Kairakuen!

Mito Sakura Festival (Apr.)


Cherry blossom tree in Kairakuen

Mito isn’t only about plums, but cherry blossoms too! Every spring, the 16-meter tall yamazakura cherry blossom tree in Miharashi-hiroba area (right by the Higashimon gate) fully blooms, serving as the perfect hanami destination.

Mito Tsutsuji Festival (Apr. to May)


Azaleas in Kairakuen Gardens

Get a early start to your summer in Kairakuen at the Mito Tsutsuji Festival! The tsutsuji (azalea) in Kairakuen vary in color, from vibrant reds to softer pinks. The 380+ azaleas planted throughout the park are sure to get you in the summer spirit.

Mito Komon Festival (Aug.)


Fireworks shooting above Lake Senba

The Mito Komon Festival is your typical Japanese summer festival. The entire city of Mito is the venue for the festival. You can witness the fireworks shooting above Lake Senba from Kairakuen.

Maple Valley Light-up (Nov.)


Illuminated maple tree

The maple trees in the extended Kairakuen area are met with a special lightup during early November. The maples in the area were planted during Tokugawa Nariaki’s times.

Access

Nearest stations:
・Mito Station 水戸駅 (JR Joban Line)
・(Bus Stop) Kairakuen 偕楽園

From Tokyo 東京駅

【Tokyo Sta.】JR Ueno Tokyo Line / for Mito
→【Mito Sta.】City Bus / for Kairakuen
→【Kairakuen】→ arrive at Kairakuen Gardens

From Mito Station 水戸駅

【Mito Sta.】City Bus / for Kairakuen
→【Kairakuen】→ arrive at Kairakuen Gardens

From Ibaraki Airport 茨城空港

【Ibaraki Airport Sta.】Airport Bus / for Mito-eki-kitaguchi
→【Mito Sta.】City Bus / for Kairakuen
→【Kairakuen】→ arrive at Kairakuen Gardens

Information

Address
1-3-3, Tokiwa-cho, Ibaraki
Phone
029-244-5454
Hours
Main garden:
・Feb. 20 to Sep. 30: 6:00a.m. - 7:00p.m.
・Oct. 1 to Feb. 19: 7:00a.m. - 6:00p.m.

Outer gardens: open all day
Closed
Open year-round
Fee
Kobuntei: 
・General: ¥200 (¥150)
・Children: ¥100 (¥80)
Prices in () are for groups of 20 or more

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