Isuien Garden

From Nara Station we walked about 15mins to Isuien Garden, which is located just before Nara Park and west of the Nandaimon Gate and Todaiji Temple (which we will cover later in the article). Alternatively, the garden can also be reached by bus from the station, only taking 5 minutes. 

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Walking through the entrance gate, the exquisite Isuien Garden hit us straight away, with its pond, steppingstones, hills, niwaki pine trees, and it’s clever use of borrowed scenery in the back drop…stunning!  The attractive Isuien Garden covers nearly three acres and has a variety of features, with abundant greenery, ponds, walkways…and using the Todaiji Temple’s Nandaimon Gate and Mount Wakausayama as the borrowed scenery mentioned. 

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The garden is a combination of two strolling garden’s designed in two different periods, the Edo Period and the Meiji Period. The front part of the garden has the longest history and dates back to the mid-17th century, whereas the rear part of the garden is more recent and was built in 1899 by a wealthy merchant. The garden was designated a “scenic site” by the government in 1975.

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From the pond area of the garden the paths then took us into a more wooded area, which was very peaceful, with small streams, cobbled type paths and tea houses…from there the path circled back on itself to where we had first entered the garden.  Although Nara seemed very busy, the garden was not, and very peaceful and enjoyable to walk around and taking its splendour…maybe people were unaware this little oasis existed!! 

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To enter the garden there is an admission fee of 1200 yen (£8.20), although a bit more compared to other attractions, the Isuien Garden is situated nearby another garden, the Yoshikien Garden which is free to enter! Also next to the garden and included in the admission fee is a small museum that displays pottery, seals, mirrors and other artifacts.  

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Isuien means “garden founded on water”, as the gardens name derives from the fact that it’s ponds are fed by the small nearby Yoshikigawa River, with the Yoshikien Garden being located on the other side of the river. 

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Walking around the pond there are many beautiful viewpoints of the garden’s features. The pond has a small island in the centre, with the steppingstones across the pond on one side and a bridge on the other. The steppingstones are designed and placed in a way that the person walking across them needs to observe each stone and so appreciate their individual beauty! 

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Please find our other Nara articles in the 'Nara' section of the website.

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