As part of our Japan trip and Hiroshima itinerary, I was really looking forward to experiencing the pleasure of a stroll through the traditional Shukkeien Japanese Garden.
Just a few days earlier, I had experienced the Nanzoin Temple Japanese Gardens in Fukuoka and was feeling quite smitten with the spiritual combination of elements in stone, water, plants, and fish, required to create an authentic and traditional Japanese garden design.
The Shukkeien Garden has all this too and despite its location in the centre of Hiroshima City and only being 2km from the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park.
We walked to visit the garden as our accomodation was close to the Peace Park and it took us just under 30 minutes. I’ve shown opening hours and other ways to get to the garden at the end of this post.
We used Booking Dotcom (affiliate link) to find and to book our various accommodations while in Japan and we very happy staying three nights at J-Hoppers Hiroshima Guesthouse at a total cost of 17,000 Yen. That’s less than 100 GBP.
The guesthouse was wonderful and I made a video of it at the end of this post about the Peace Memorial Park to show you that it’s sometimes a good choice to stay in a budget accomodation in order to allow for more expensive cities like, for example, Tokyo.
The word Shukkeien means “shrunken-scenery garden” which is a perfect description of the miniature representations of valleys, mountains and forests in this garden’s intricate and carefully planned design.
During our visit, at the end of March this year, it was the start of the ‘Sakura’ or cherry blossom season.
Enjoying the early blossoms or ‘hanami’ – as cherry blossom watching is called in Japan – certainly made our visit to Shukkeien Garden extra special along with meeting a lovely Japanese lady wearing her kimono.
We followed the winding and connecting paths and bridges and paused often to admire the many traditional Japanese garden features, tea houses, arbours and ornate bridges and to feed the carp swimming in the pond with the fish food that we’d been able to buy at the ticket gate.
The central pond with its fourteen islands of various sizes is cleverly designed to represent the fourteen islands in the nearby Inland Sea.
Shukkeien Garden has a long history dating back to 1620 when it was designed by Soko Ueda for his Lord Asano of Hiroshima.
The garden, lovingly referred to as ‘Sentai’ by the people of Hiroshima before the war, was completely destroyed as a result of the atomic bombing in 1945.
Many survivors desperate to find water took refuge here immediately following the bombing but died before receiving medical care. Their remains were interred withing the garden.
Only three trees in the garden are said to have survived the bombing including an old gingko tree that people now like to touch in order to connect with the tree’s enduring spirit.
A memorial was placed amongst the trees for those who died and were buried here when the garden was restored in 1949 and then opened in 1951.
We coincided our visit to Shukkeien Garden with our trip to Hiroshima Castle as it is right next door and just a short walk away.
If you are wondering how long does it take to see the Shukkeien Garden then would allow an hour or two for your visit to each of these sites – the shrunken scenery garden and the adjacent castle – to also fully appreciate the parks and gardens.
Shukkeien Garden Opening Hours: 9:00 to 18:00 (until 17:00 from September 16 to March 15)
Admission ends 30 minutes before closing.
Shukkeien Garden Entrance Fee: Currently 260 yen
On Foot: Shukkeien is a 15 minute walk from Hiroshima Station.
You can use your Suica Card on public transport in and around Hiroshima.
By Bus: The garden can be reached by the Hiroshima Sightseeing Loop Bus (Meipuru-pu) in about four minutes from Hiroshima Station.
By Tram: The garden is a short walk from “Shukkeien-mae” along tram line 9. From Hiroshima Station, take tram line 1, 2 or 6 to Hacchobori and transfer to tram line 9. The entire journey takes about 15 minutes and currently costs 220 yen.
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