This traditional Japanese garden is the perfect place to enjoy Japan’s natural beauty as it changes with the seasons!
At the center of Daikonshima Island in Matsue’s brackish Nakaumi Lake (中海), Yuushien Garden is a little green oasis in a big city that has long been at the heart of local politics and intrigue. But while samurais have been making tracks through Matsue for centuries on end, Yuushien Garden has grown into a popular destination in the space of just 50 or so years, since its establishment in 1970. The traditional layout, green trees, and famous flowers make it a must-see spot in Matsue for anyone who enjoys a stroll through a beautiful garden.
Just across the water from the internet-famous Rollercoaster Bridge, Yuushien is spread out over a spacious 40,000m² (430556ft²), with paths that take you around, through, and over the pond that makes a focal point throughout this “circuit style” garden. The gardeners at Yuushien say that each of the little enclaves dotted around the grounds is an inspired reimagining meant to represent one of the many landscapes of nearby Izumo, famed for natural beauty, fantastic sunsets, and legends of the Japanese gods.
The changing of the seasons and the ephemeral beauty that goes with it is a vital part of Japanese culture, and Yuushien is known for the new delights that appear in the garden as the days pass and the weather starts to shift. In spring, the garden’s peonies are the stars of the show, and visitors arrive from near and far to see the peonies floating in huge, colorful clusters atop the water of the garden pond. The peonies are so famous, though, that the garden makes it possible to enjoy them in one way or another throughout the year―outside of peony season, the dramatic flowers are grown indoors in a dedicated room.
In the heat of the summer, when the peonies start to wilt and the verdant green of the garden’s trees grows vibrant, Yuushien starts to periodically flood the garden with streams of cloudy fog, which shoot out over the pond and throughout the tree-lined pathways. This mist cools the air, but it also adds a beautiful and mysterious glow to the garden, particularly with beams of sunlight cut through the shade, and seem to be held in the air by the tiny droplets of water.
At the other end of the spectrum, cold weather marks the beginning of Yuushien’s illumination event, when the garden stays open late after sunset, and colorful lights brighten the dark paths.
A rainbow of lights shine up into the branches of the trees, and down into the water of the pond, adding a little magic to each chilly night, and the gardeners work carefully with light artists to set up spectacular light sculptures like this twinkling Mount Fuji.
A trip around the garden follows a circuit that finally leads to a building with an exhibition on Yuushien’s ginseng (did you know Daikonshima Island is famous for the stuff?), and the garden’s chic cafe. Each of the spacious seats looks out onto a fantastic view of the pond and the garden beyond, making it an ideal place to sit down with a cup of tea or coffee and relax after wandering through the meandering paths.
And of course, during the winter illumination, a nighttime visit to the cafe is extra magical!
Yuushien Garden (由志園)
1260-2 Yatsukacho Hanyu, Matsue, Shimane
Admission: adults 800 yen / children 400 yen*
Hours: 9:00 – 17:00*
*Hours and admission prices subject to change throughout the year.
Official Website (en)
Name: AYuushien Garden (由志園)
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