As the long autumn nights approach, are you wondering about what you can do other than explore the nightlife or enjoy a nice dinner? If music is your thing and you are interested in exploring a traditional Japanese garden under the moonlit sky, how about heading to Sankeien (三渓園) to participate in its kangetsukai (観月会) or harvest moon night viewing?
For those who have not heard of Sankeien, it is a Japanese garden nestled in a quiet residential neighborhood in Yokohama which used to be the private residence of a silk merchant named Hara Sankei. Besides the plentiful variety of flowers and greenery, the garden is also known for housing 10 Important Cultural Properties and three Tangible Cultural Properties within its premises. If you would like to read more about this beautiful garden, you may refer to my previous post on Sankeien here.
— 横浜市広報課 (@yokohama_koho) September 14, 2016
The Sankeien Kangetsukai, which literally means “Sankeien Harvest Moon Night Viewing Event,” will be held every evening from October 4 to 9, 2017, from 6:00 PM to 8:30 PM. For a fee of 700 yen per adult and 200 yen each for primary and junior high students, you can gain access to the garden and the event.
If you are planning to visit during the weekend or on a public holiday, there is a shuttle bus service called the Burari Sankeien Bus (ぶらり三溪園バス – Japanese only) which takes 45 minutes per round. It stops at major train stations like Yokohama Station (横浜駅) and Sakuragicho Station (桜木町駅), as well as major attractions like the Anpanman Children’s Museum (アンパンマンミュージアム), Chinatown (中華街), and Yamashita Park (山下公園).
For those planning to spend some time in Yokohama and those who will be taking the public buses, it is recommended that you buy the Minato Burari Ticket (500 yen for adults and 250 yen for children) which allows you to take unlimited trips on the buses in the Yokohama Bay area.
Otherwise, you should use IC cards like Suica to pay for the single trips which will be cheaper than if you pay in cash. For example, a single adult bus ticket paid in cash will cost 220 yen, while it will only cost 216 yen with an IC card. Likewise, for children’s tickets, you will have to pay 110 yen for each child, but an IC card will only set you back by 108 yen.
— LucevoCe/LamiaCoda (@LucevoCe1) September 17, 2016
During the Kangetsukai event period, major historical buildings within the garden such as the three-tiered pagoda are lit up which allows you to see them in a different light (literally). Compared to how they look like in the day, the night lights add a mystical and warm feel to these buildings, especially when set against the backdrop of a full moon.
The highlight of the Kangetsukai will definitely be the music performances taking place every night at Rinshunkaku (臨春閣), which is in the inner part of the garden. As there are no seats in front of Rinshunkaku and the pond facing it, you should consider bringing your own picnic mat or something similar so that you can enjoy the music while sitting in a relaxing manner on the grass field.
Unlike many events that emphasize a lively atmosphere, the mood at Sankeien will be more subdued and quieter since there won’t be any food and drink stalls set up within the premises. This also means that you might have to bring your own drinks in case you get thirsty during the two-hour long performances.
The music performed during this period is varied and should suit a variety of tastes. From Gagaku (雅楽) i.e. Japanese court music to Baroque music, North Indian classical music to jazz, you can choose to attend a specific performance based on your preferences. Here is a list of performance timings and the type of music featured on each night:
- October 4, Wednesday (6:00 PM to 6:45 PM) – music performed on the koto (流筝) and sangen (三絃) in Ikuta style
- October 5, Thursday (6:00 PM to 8:00 PM) – music performed on the Japanese lute (琵琶)
- October 6, Friday (6:00 PM to 8:00 PM) – North Indian classical music
- October 7, Saturday (6:00 PM to 8:00 PM) – Gagaku
- October 8, Sunday (6:00 PM to 8:00 PM) – Japanese songs performed on the saxophone and piano
- October 9, Monday (6:00 PM to 8:00 PM) – Baroque music
Since the sun sets earlier than usual in autumn, you might want to consider entering Sankeien in the afternoon to get a good look at the buildings and greenery before settling down to enjoy the music when night falls.
Having read all about this event, are you keen to spend your long autumn nights in a slightly different way? It will be nice to get away from the hustle of the city life and enjoy a peaceful night with melodious music under the moonlit autumn sky. Do give this a try if you are in Japan during this period!