Sunday, February 15, 2009


basic information

Ranked among Japan's three finest landscape gardens, Kairakuen is most famous for its over three thousand plum trees. Kairakuen is located in Mito, the capital of Ibaraki Prefecture, one hour northeast of Tokyo by limited express train.

While worth a visit throughout the year, Kairakuen is most attractive during the plum blossom season, which usually takes place in late February and March. The Mito Plum Festival (Mito Ume Matsuri) is held annually from February 20 to March 31.

Kairakuen was built relatively recently in the year 1841 by the local lord Tokugawa Nariaki. Unlike Japan's other two great landscape gardens Kenrokuen and Korakuen, Kairakuen served not only for the enjoyment of the ruling lord, but was open to the public. Kairakuen means "park to be enjoyed together".

Besides the plum tree forest, where one hundred different plum tree varieties with white, pink and red blossoms are planted, Kairakuen also features a bamboo grove, cedar woods and the Kobuntei, a traditional Japanese style building.


Like the whole park, the Kobuntei used to be open to the public and served educational and recreational purposes. A nice view of Kairakuen and nearby Senba Lake can be enjoyed from its top floor. Admission to the Kobuntei is 190 Yen per person, while entrance to the gardens of Kairakuen is free.

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how to get there

Kairakuen is located in Mito City, 120 kilometers northwest of Tokyo. Mito is easily accessed from Tokyo's Ueno Station by the Joban Line. The one-way trip by limited express "Super Hitachi" takes 65 minutes and costs 4,020 Yen, while local trains take twice as long, but cost half as much, namely 2,210 Yen.

From Mito Station, Kairakuen can be reached in a pleasant 30 minute walk along Senba Lake (a good English city map of Mito is available at the station's sightseeing information desk) or in 15 minutes by bus.

During the peak of the plum festival, the trains on the Joban Line stop at the temporarily served Kairakuen Station, which stands just next to the garden.

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