Relishing the Magnificence of Japanese Gardens in Shimane/ Yamaguchi

Although the gardens of Shimane and Yamaguchi have not been around for hundreds of years such as those of Kyoto, they have been attracting much attention in Japan as well as from overseas. Here are some exceptional Japanese gardens that can be easily visited, located within museums and Ryokans.

The Michelin 3 star,
Adachi Museum of Art

The Adachi Museum of Art is located in Yasugi city of Shimane prefecture, and is renown for its beautiful Japanese garden that has been ranked 1st for 13 years running on the American Japanese garden magazine, “The Journal of Japanese Gardening”, above other famous gardens such as Katsura Rikyu (Katsura Imperial Villa). It has also received 3 stars from “Michelin Green Guide Japan”, the famous French travel guidebook.

The museum boasts large collections and displays of Japanese paintings, pottery, and Doga (Pictures for Children) gathered by Zenko Adachi, who was a local entrepreneur and art connoisseur. It is particularly famous for the vast collection of around 120 works created by the master of modern Japanese painting, Yokoyama Taikan. Mr. Adachi was also extremely passionate with gardening, and realized a facility that has never been seen before with an extraordinary combination of Japanese paintings and gardens.

The total area of the premises is roughly 200,000m2, with 6 gardens surrounding the museum building. The main garden is the “Karesansui Garden”, The Dry Landscape Garden, which is a type of Japanese garden that expresses the natural movement of water without actually using water. This garden at the Adachi Museum of Art depicts a rigid mountain range by placing three rocks in the center, with white sand running from the peak like waterfalls. By using natural elements such as rocks/ water/ plants, and sometimes through integrating natural landscapes, Japanese gardens portray natural beauties in open spaces.

The “Hakusha Seisho Garden”, The White Gravel and Pine Garden”, is located next to the Dry Landscape Garden. It is a unique garden that can only be seen here, and was created based on the famous “Beautiful Pine Beach”(1937) painting by Yokoyama Taikan. The garden is a brilliant portrayal of the painting with various pine trees, large and small carefully placed on the gentle white sand slopes.

The “Living Framed Paintings” are not actual paintings, but frames placed around the edge of windows, while the “Living Hanging Scrolls” are scroll-shaped openings in the walls of the alcove, and both are for viewing the gardens from inside the Japanese rooms. These views are truly live, Japanese paintings that allow visitors to admire the different beauties of the gardens each time they visit. This is a popular spot where it is possible to understand the ideas of Adachi who once said, “gardens itself are also pieces of paintings”.

One of the greatest features of the Adachi Museum of Art is being able to find a deeper understanding of Japanese artworks including those of Yokoyama Taikan through viewing seasonal Japanese splendors in the gardens.

A completed guide of the attractions of the castle town and areas nearby Matsue!

In addition to learning more about Japanese art at the Adachi Museum of Art, book English tours of the national treasure, Matsue Castle!

Depicting Japanese Coastal Beauty Inspired by Lake Shinji
Minamikan, a Ryokan by the Banks of Lake Shinji and Loved by Scholars

Shinjiko Onsen is located to the west of the castle town, Matsue city in Shimane prefecture, which still possesses the air of a town that thrived during the Edo period. Minamikan is one of the most famous Ryokans in this hot spring town by the lakeside, and the Japanese garden here is also ranked high in the “Journal of Japanese Gardening”, receiving much praise from Japan and abroad.

The main objects of this dry landscape garden are the 15 pine trees, including a famous tree around 300 years old. It portrays a “Hakusha Seisho” landscape, which is a Japanese expression for a beautiful Japanese coastal scenery where pine trees stand nearby the seashore. The garden of Minamikan blends the view of Lake Shinji, which makes the appearance of the coastline even more remarkable.

Karesansui expressions were influenced by Zen principles, and so it began with attempting to create abstract expressions of locations for practicing Zen, which were natural environments away from where people lived, by using rocks and sand in limited spaces. Sand was used to form rivers, lakes, or seas by creating ripples, which can be seen in the garden of Minamikan where the rocks and plants are arranged and trimmed to form islands surrounded by sand ripples. The seascape here is highly conceptual, allowing to appreciate it as a scenery that can be the seashore and ocean at the same time.

Minamikan has a history spanning 120 years and was loved by many scholars such as Akutagawa Ryunosuke and Kawabata Yasunari. Japan’s famous poets Yosano Tekkan and Akiko even made a poem that praised the hospitality they experienced here. A touch of modern design was added to its traditional atmosphere when it was renovated and reopened in 2007. The facility now welcomes guests with a variation of retro/ modern/ classic guestrooms.

Minamikan is known for its spectacular view of the sunset from Lake Shinji, rich hot spring, and convenient location for sightseeing in Matsue. Their meals are also exquisite, using riches from the Sanin region nearby the sea and mountains. The “Minamikaden Taimeshi” is a special dish that has been passed down for generations in Minamikan, and extremely popular among guests who have stayed here. It is also served at branches located in high-class districts of Tokyo such as Ginza and Nihombashi.

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Revel in the Landscapes of the Nationally Registered Garden and Acclaimed Architecture
Registered Ryokan Sansuien in Yuda Onsen, Yamaguchi

Sansuien is located in Yuda Onsen of Yamaguchi city, and possesses a Japanese garden that is a nationally registered monument. The three main categories of Japanese gardens are “Chisen Teien” (gardens with ponds), “Roji” (tea house garden), and “Karesansui” (dry landscape), however the garden of Sansuien includes all three with each existing independently. The garden allows visitors to appreciate the various beauties of Japanese gardens all in one place.

The Chisen garden is created with the pond portraying the sea as the center of the scape. The Chisen garden of Sansuien creates a dynamic view with depth by using the mountain scenery in the distance with hot spring water flowing from 2 waterfalls into the pond with 5 coves and an island.

On the other hand, a Roji refers to a garden leading towards a tea room that carefully creates a natural boundary that helps to detach the mind of those walking here from society. The Roji of Sansuien is an authentic double Roji, with an outer and inner tea garden. Guests are greeted at the central gate after passing through these two areas. Without a doubt it would be enjoyable to picture scenes of tea ceremonies in your mind as you walk through the passage and taking a look at the wash basins for cleansing before entering the tea house.

Waterscapes are created without using water in Karesansui gardens. At Sansuien the white sand is placed lower than the surface of the ground, making the expression of water appear even more realistic. There are 3 narrow connected passages, allowing to observe the scenery created by islands and rocks from different angles.

The architectures of Sansuien were first constructed around 100 years ago with extensions added over the years. They are nationally registered tangible cultural assets, and also referred to as a “museum of wooden architectures”. The coexistence of such structures and gardens are also the reason why so many people are attracted to Sansuien. Many craftsmen such as famous Sukiya architects of Kyoto and landscape gardeners worked on the gardens here, and the atmosphere created by them is of the utmost quality.

The wooden structure gives a sense of warmth in the guestrooms, allowing visitors to relax during their stay. There is also a 100% hot spring bath using water from 3 privates sources of springs to adjust the right temperature, and the dishes using fresh seafood from the Sea of Japan and the Seto Inner Sea to the north and south of Yamaguchi are superb. Indulge yourself with a full experience of authentic Japanese beauties and comfort.

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Yonago Airport

From Tokyo Haneda Airport

85 minutes

Number of departures per day: Approx. 6※

Yamaguchi Ube Airport

From Tokyo Haneda Airport

105 minutes

Number of departures per day: Approx. 6※

Hagi Iwami Airport

From Tokyo Haneda Airport

105 minutes

Number of departures per day: Approx. 2※

Iwakuni Airport

From Tokyo Haneda Airport

105 minutes

Number of departures per day: Approx. 5※

*Information correct as of December 22 2016

Details correct as of the end of December 2016.