Kairakuen is a Japanese garden located in Mito City, 120 kilometers northwest of Tokyo at Ibaraki Prefecture. It is regarded as one of the three most beautiful gardens in Japan, along with Kenrokuen in Kanazawa City and Korakuen in Okayama City. The lord of the Mito clan who ruled the region constructed Kairakuen in 1842 to share an enjoyment of flowers with the people. The name itself means “a garden for everyones pleasure.”
Approximately 3,000 plum (ume) trees of 100 different species can be found in the 13 hectare grounds. Ume flowers blooms mark the arrival of spring and from February 20 to March 31 is held the Mito Plum Festival (Mito Ume Matsuri). Besides the plum tree forest, Kairakuen also features a bamboo grove, cedar woods and the Kobuntei, a traditional Japanese style building.
The Kairakuen suffered damage by the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake (March 2011) and had been undergoing repairs. It was reopened in February 2012.
Next to the Grarden is the shrine Tokiwa Jinja.
Kairakuen is 15 minutes by bus from Mito Station or 30 minutes’ walk along Senba Lake.
Author – photographer. Co-founder of Japanbyweb.com.