Stately home and gardens of the Shimazu clan

Sengan-en is a remarkable destination located in Kagoshima, japan. It is known for its stunning gardens, rich history, and picturesque views of Kinko Bay and the active volcano, Sakurajima. As one of Japan’s finest examples of a feudal lord’s garden, Sengan-en offers visitors a unique glimpse into the lives of the Shimazu clan, who ruled over the area. This article will explore the various attractions and features of Sengan-en, including its beautiful gardens, the old residence, dining options, and nearby attractions.

Beautiful gardens, borrowed scenery:
Built in 1658, Sengan-en’s most striking feature is its picturesque setting, with the active Sakurajima volcano and Kagoshima Bay serving as a breathtaking backdrop. The gardens cover over 12 acres and are meticulously designed, featuring serene ponds, bubbling streams, shrines, tea rooms, a bamboo grove, and a mountain hiking trail. Visitors can take a leisurely stroll through the gardens, enjoying the tranquility and beauty of the natural surroundings. For those looking for a more adventurous experience, hiking to the top of the mountain trail offers a panoramic view of the bay and volcano.

Follow in the footsteps of a feudal lord:
At the center of the garden lies the old residence of the Shimazu clan, a magnificent structure that showcases a blend of Japanese, Chinese, and Western influences. The house is a testament to the international tastes of the Shimazu clan and offers visitors a glimpse into the lavish lifestyle of feudal lords. As visitors walk through the winding corridors and spacious tatami rooms, they can immerse themselves in the history and culture of the time. The residence even played host to royalty, such as Nicholas II of Russia and Edward VIII of the UK, highlighting the influence and power of the Shimazu family.

Kagoshima delicacies:
A visit to Sengan-en is incomplete without indulging in the local cuisine. The flagship restaurant, Ohkatei, offers a wide range of Kagoshima delicacies, including locally caught sea bream and kurobuta pork. As visitors savor these sumptuous dishes, they can enjoy the stunning view of Sakurajima, just as the feudal lords once did. For those looking for a lighter snack, the famous local sweet treat known as jambo-mochi is a must-try. These lightly toasted rice cakes skewered on sticks and glazed with sweet soy or miso sauce are a delightful and symbolic representation of the samurai’s two swords.

Industrial heritage:
Sengan-en is not only known for its natural beauty and historical significance but also for its ties to Japan’s industrial revolution. The Shoko Shuseikan Museum, located just outside Sengan-en, provides visitors with insights into the industrialization of modern Japan. The museum traces the course of the Shimazu family over 800 years and showcases the international relations that led to Japan’s development. Housed in Japan’s oldest remaining factory, the museum offers a unique perspective on the country’s industrial heritage.

Traditional craftsmanship:
Kagoshima is renowned for its traditional craftsmanship, and Sengan-en is no exception. The Shimazu Satsuma Kiriko Glassworks, located next to Sengan-en, is where visitors can witness the creation of colorful Satsuma Kiriko cut glass. This traditional craft dates back to the Edo period and involves layering thick colored glass over transparent glass and cutting intricate patterns to reveal the transparent layer below. Skilled craftsmen demonstrate their expertise in this intricate process, showcasing the beauty and artistry of Kagoshima’s traditional craftsmanship.

World Heritage Site:
In 2015, both Sengan-en and the Shoko Shuseikan Museum were recognized as a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site. This prestigious designation highlights the unique combination of the Edo period gardens at Sengan-en and the modernization of the Meiji period and beyond. The World Heritage Site status further solidifies Sengan-en’s importance as a historical and cultural landmark in Japan.

A visit to Sengan-en is a journey through time, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the beauty, history, and culture of Kagoshima. From the stunning gardens and breathtaking views to the old residence and local cuisine, Sengan-en offers a truly unforgettable experience. Whether exploring the tranquil gardens, admiring the craftsmanship of Satsuma Kiriko glass, or learning about Japan’s industrial heritage at the Shoko Shuseikan Museum, Sengan-en is a destination that should not be missed. Plan a day trip to this remarkable site and discover the wonders of the Shimazu clan’s stately home and gardens.

Address And Maps Location:

9700-1 Yoshino-cho, Kagoshima-shi, Kagoshima-ken

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