If you are a fan of Japanese gardens and have a chance to travel to Japan, surely you would like to visit the Adachi Museum of Art that has consistently been ranked number one by The Journal of Japanese Gardening. Adachi Museum of Art is located in Shimane prefecture, and Shimane is home to many beautiful gardens. Though a bit off the main tourist track (3-4 hours from Kyoto by trains), it is worth the travel particularly for garden fans. If you visit Shimane and its capital city Matsue, it is highly recommended that you also visit several beautiful gardens around Matsue to make your trip even more memorable. Here is a story on a trip in which I privately traveled around five gardens in about two days, when I stayed in Matsue in 2021- both very famous and lesser-known ones.
Adachi Museum of Art
Adachi Museum of Art offers an unparalleled combination of a great collection of Japanese paintings and pottery and magnificent Japanese gardens. The gardens embody the belief of the museum and garden's founder Adachi Zenko "A Japanese garden is thought of as a living canvas." The landscape of the Dry Landscape Garden that can be admired from large windows or balconies is truly magnificent and stunning. Since visitors do not stroll around this perfectly manicured garden here, we can enjoy an unobstructed, serene and graceful view of the garden. The Dry Landscape Garden, its main garden that perfectly incorporates the hills at the backdrop into the garden's landscape is something you can keep enjoying for hours from a coffeeshop or seats near the window. I hear that the museum has even purchased some of the mountains' lands in order to keep the landscape intact. Highlight for me was the scene seen through the window that is perfectly framed to view the garden and impressive tree in the foreground, the "Living Picture". The other impressive gardens such as the White Gravel and Pine Tree Garden, the Moss Garden and the Pond Garden also add to the pleasure of exploring the museum's grounds. Then I enjoyed the art collections of masterpieces of the works by the Japanese artists such as paintings by Yokoyama Taikan and Takeuchi Seiho, as well as ceramics in the Rosanjin Hall that is devoted to Kitaoji Rosanjin, highly respected multi-talented artists and epicurean.
Yuushien Garden (Yushien)
Yuushien Garden is located in Daikonjima Island in the lake Nakaumi, the suburb of Matsue. The garden is relatively new- opened in 1975. The garden beautifully represents the natural landscape of Izumo area. I enjoyed strolling the paths around the immaculately manicured gardens, seeing and stopping to admire the harmony of trees, shrubs, stones, ponds and waterfalls. The garden is most famous for peony flowers. Though I visited there in October when the peony is not in season, I could see the flowers in the Japanese Peony House. Blooming blossoms of each season are one of the highlights of touring Yuusien. Also, since the island is famous for Korean ginseng and peonies, there are related shops and exhibitions. Yushien is accessible by a 30-minute car ride from JR Matsue station.
Minamikan is the most deluxe traditional Japanese inn in Matsue on the shore of Ohashi gawa river pouring into Lake Shinji. Its dry landscape garden, with Lake Shinji as its borrowed scenery, has been ranked third by a U.S. magazine. Since Minamikan's garden is a private garden of the inn, it is best viewed from the guestrooms. Minamikan runs a restaurant in the same ground specializing in Japanese cuisine, the garden view can be enjoyed if you use the restaurant. The restaurant "Garden Saryo Minami" is also one of the most popular places in Matsue loved both by locals and tourists. On the day I visited, the seats and private rooms were full during lunch time. The restaurant staff kindly allowed me in the garden behind the restaurant. Despite its relatively small size, the contrast of white sand and green pine trees and the use of the background scenery of Lake Shinji and Ohashi gawa River and other small details combined impressed me enough. I admire the way the gardeners maintain the aesthetics underlying this Japanese garden. One outstanding feature, as many point out, is the artistic use and pruning of pine trees, including some dating back 300 years old. It was a short, but memorable time. To enjoy this garden to the fullest, I would like to stay overnight in one of the rooms next time.
If you are looking for a garden tour that covers top Japanese gardens throughout Japan, please see our sample itinerary for Japan Garden Tour. We are happy to customize your tour depending on your interests in Japanese garden, culture and more.