There are so many historic gardens around Japan but only a few offers miniature garden landscapes. One of these is called Shukkeien (縮景園), which literally means “shrunken-scenery garden” in English. It was constructed in 1620 under the order of Asano Nagaakira (浅野長晟), a Japanese samurai, in order to serve as a villa for his family. The garden is currently standing in the city of Hiroshima.
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After the garden was constructed, it underwent another construction in the later years through the help of an expert in Japanese gardens. It was cultivated carefully in order to mimic several bodies of land such as valleys, mountains, forests, vegetation, and other natural formations. It also possessed several aesthetics of a traditional Japanese garden. It became the Asano family’s villa where the Meiji Emperor would also lodge from time to time. Later on, it was opened for public viewing and was donated to the prefecture. However, the atomic bombings in Hiroshima greatly devastated the garden which paved the way for further renovations. It was reopened only in 1951.
The garden was designated as a National Scenic Spot in 1940 because of its beautiful plum trees and cherry blossoms surrounding the place. It is said that the garden has been modeled after the West Lake in Hangzhou which consisted of numerous gardens with artificial islands. The garden has a main pond at the center which is proximal to several tea houses. A path can be followed from the pond which winds and goes into several directions passing through all the garden’s landscapes. Different scenic views can be seen while going around the place.
A special rice planting ritual is being done by young ladies in the garden at the beginning of June each year. The event involves dancing, drumming, tossing fluffy batons and is centered on the former plots of the feudal lords in the garden. This attracts many people and press in the place. However, despite its central location, it doesn’t get too crowded.
This shrunken-scenery garden is surely a delight to the eyes of many travelers. It is advisable to follow the garden’s path in order to enjoy the best views surrounding the garden.