Okayama is home to the renowned Koraku-en Garden. Although severely damaged by bombs in WWII, the descriptions and paintings from the Edo period permitted an exact reconstruction to its original, elegant state. This rebuild has earned the site the designation of “Special Scenic Location.” Okayama is also home to the Ohara Museum, the first Japanese museum to permanently exhibit western art.
Takamatsu is located on Shikoku, the smallest of the four main Japanese islands. Here the 75-hectare Ritsurin Garden features six ponds, thirteen hills, a waterfall, plum, cherry, and pine trees, a bamboo forest, a tea house, and a garden that is recognized one of the most beautiful strolling gardens in Japan. It was awarded three stars in the Michelin Green Guide Japan.
Miyajima and Hiroshima, Japan
Pay your respects at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park in central Hiroshima. This was Ground Zero for the Atomic Bomb dropped on August 6, 1945. The Peace Memorial Museum surveys the history of Hiroshima and the advent of the nuclear bomb. The nearby small island of Miyajima (“The Shrine Island”) is home to the Floating Torii Gate. Built in the water, the Torii Gate leads to the Itsukushima Shrine and at high tide it seems to float.
Sakaiminato is the gateway to the towns of Matsue and Yasugi. Matsue is known as the “Town of Water” and has one of the very few wooden castles that still remain in Japan. Yasugi has the Adachi Museum of Art, a private museum that houses one of the finest collections of contemporary Japanese paintings, but also has 165,000 square metres of meticulously arranged plants, water and rocks. Six different gardens –which can only be seen from inside the museum- will show different scenarios depending on the season. Under the motto that “the Japanese garden is like a living picture” these gardens have been selected as ‘Japan’s best garden’ for several years.
Maizuru (Gateway to Kyoto), Japan
Maizuru will permit us to reach Kyoto, renowned for spectacular architecture and UNESCO Word Heritage Sites. Among them is the famous Tenruji Temple, the first among Kyoto’s five great Zen temples, and the adjacent bamboo groves. Kyoto's most famous landmark, Kinkakuji Temple (Golden Pavilion), was built by Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu as a villa in 1397. The Chinese-influenced three-story home at the edge of a tranquil pond was later converted to a temple by Yoshimitsu's son. Another highlight is Nijo Castle, a fortification of cypress wood built in 1603 as the residence of the Tokugawa clan. A UNESCO World Heritage site, the castle is protected by a moat, stone walls, and ingenious nightingale floors, which chirp like a bird when walked upon to alert the guards of potential intruders.
Kanazawa is known for its many artistic offerings, including its lacquerware, Kutani-style pottery, gold leaf workmanship and delicately painted silk kimonos. It also houses Kenroku-en, one of the famous “Three Gardens of Japan.” Kenroku-en’s 11.4 hectare grounds include Japan’s oldest fountain using natural water pressure and a tea house dating back to 1774.
• See Korea’s traditional lifestyle attending a tea ceremony and during a visit of Gyeongju Yangdong Village, Korea’s largest traditional village.
• Stand at Hiroshima Ground Zero and experience the sombre history of this crucial World War II site.
• Try some of Japan’s special dishes and ice-creams and master the craft of udon noodle making.
• See several UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
• Stroll through some of Japan’s most famous gardens to enjoy and understand the aesthetic and poetic concepts of the Japanese art of gardening
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