Sankei-en Garden

Worth seeing in any season

This venerable garden in Yokohama has a huge pond and a lot of interesting historical buildings, including a spectacular pagoda. It makes for a fine, meandering walk in any season, with interesting views, bridges and cultural tidbits around every corner. And if we’re lucky, we might spot one of the the resident kingfishers!

Sankeien is home to these gorgeous little fishing birds, and you can easily tell if one is making an appearance by the presence of fully tripodded cameramen with hecka huge lenses pointing right at the star attraction
Winding paths and multiple bridges connect the various parts of the park, with picturesque traditional buildings sprinkled throughout
There is a thatch-roofed farmhouse you can go inside and see how people lived in the days before electricity
Teahouses are everywhere, and often there are groups of women in formal kimonos strolling to and from their tea ceremonies
Little details like this stone basin…
…and this cupola on a bridge deliver delightful surprises around every bend.
Sankeien is awfully nice when the azaleas and wisteria are blooming (late April through early May)…
…and is known for its plantings of iris, which come into full bloom at the beginning of June.
During lotus season (mid-July to mid-August) they have special early opening hours on the weekends from 6:00 – 8:30, so you can see the vast field of lotus flowers blooming (before they start to close up again around 9:00 am)
And one of the best parts of going early is that they set up these crazy demonstrations of Stuff You Never Knew You Could Do With A Lotus Leaf
Lotsu stem + dish soap WHO KNEW?
As you walk from the bus stop to the garden entrance, you might see this funny little shrine on the left-hand side of the street.
Are those scrub brushes on the shrine’s altar? Believe it or not, these kame no tawashi – traditional turtle-shaped scrub brushes – are there to be borrowed if you’re suffering from a cold! Take one home, scrub the outside of your throat with it, buy another one just like it and return both of them to the shrine. Does it work? Well, there are quite a pile of them, and some look quite new, so…

Open: Every day, closed 12/31-1/3

Hours: 9:00 – 17:00 (last admission 16:30)

Admission: Adult (high school and older): ¥700, Children (elementary and middle school age): ¥200


The Last Tea Bowl Thief was chosen as an Editor’s Pick for Best Mystery, Thriller & Suspense on Amazon

 For three hundred years, a missing tea bowl passes from one fortune-seeker to the next, changing the lives of all who possess it…read more

“A fascinating mix of history and mystery.” —Booklist

Jonelle Patrick writes novels set in Japan, produces the monthly e-magazine Japanagram, and blogs at Only In Japan and The Tokyo Guide I Wish I’d Had

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