The Blissful Japanese Gardens of Fukuoka: Must-See Attractions, Teahouses, and More!
Fukuoka Prefecture is home to a wide variety of Japanese gardens, each with their own unique appeal. Alongside natural beauty, many have fascinating histories, from ancient designs by the renowned painter Sesshu to those inherited from wealthy lords. Many Japanese gardens in Fukuoka also serve matcha tea in traditional teahouses, and some even have accommodation and dining options amid their blissful settings.
In this article, we’ll introduce some of the best Japanese gardens in Fukuoka, and take you through their highlights with info on entrance fees and more!
But before reading on, it’s handy to know and remember the two main types of Japanese garden:
- Strolling-style: Designed to let visitors wander leisurely through the garden and enjoy different perspectives from various locations.
- Contemplation-style: Designed for visitors to admire the garden from the comfort of a building, without entering the garden itself.
Ohori Park Japanese Garden (Strolling-Style, Fukuoka City)
The Ohori Park Japanese Garden was opened in 1984 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Ohori Park. It features a beautiful landscape with hills, groves, and a central pond, covering approximately 1.2 hectares. Surrounded by white walls and lush greenery, the main garden includes a large pond, artificial hills, meandering streams, dry landscape gardens, a traditional teahouse, and open-air tea gardens, all designed for visitors to stroll between and enjoy the serene beauty.
Masao Nakamura, one of the leading experts in contemporary Japanese teahouse architecture, was the designer behind the garden's teahouse and tea ceremony hall. These facilities can be accessed with a reservation and fee, however, on the 1st, 3rd, and 4th Tuesdays of each month (or the following day if it's a holiday), the tea ceremony hall is open to the public at no charge (the garden entrance fee still applies). A paid matcha tea service is also available for your enjoyment.
- Adults: 250 yen
- Children (15 and under): 120 yen
*Free for children 6 and under.
*Free for seniors 65 and older (please present proof of age, such as a senior citizen's handbook, health insurance card, or driver's license).
*Free for disabled individuals and one accompanying caregiver (please present a disability, rehabilitation, or mental health and welfare certificate).
Relax at a Traditional Japanese Cafe
Adjacent to the Ohori Park Japanese Garden is Ohori Terrace, where visitors can relish food and drink made with local Fukuoka and Kyushu ingredients, including Yame tea, at & LOCALS cafe.Visit the official websit
Rakusuien Garden (Strolling-Style, Fukuoka City)
Rakusuien Garden serves as a refreshing oasis of greenery amongst the offices near Hakata Station. It occupies the site of a villa that once belonged to Shimozawa Zenemon Chikamasa, a prosperous Hakata merchant from the Meiji Period. After the war, it was converted into a ryokan inn before being turned into a strolling-style Japanese garden with a central pond designed for tea ceremonies by Fukuoka City in 1995. When it’s not being used for tea ceremonies, visitors can savor matcha and seasonal sweets at the Rakusuian teahouse.
Rakusuien Garden is a great place to feel the peak beauty of the seasons, such as weeping cherry blossoms in spring, Japanese kerria and irises in early summer, and red maple trees in autumn, each adding new color to its lush green moss.
- Adults: 100 yen
- Children (junior high school and under): 50 yen
*Free for children not yet enrolled in elementary school.
*Free for disabled individuals and one caregiver.
*Free for seniors aged 65+ residing in Fukuoka City, Kitakyushu City, Kumamoto City, or Kagoshima City.
Keep an Ear Out For the Soothing Sounds of the Suikinkutsu
At the center of Rakusuien Garden is a “suikinkutsu.” This is a small underground echo chamber designed to produce a gentle, melodic reverberation as drops of water fall into its stone basin, called a “tsukubai.”
Raizan Sennyoji Daihioin (Contemplation-Style, Itoshima City)
Raizan Sennyoji Daihioin is a temple founded by an Indian monk named Seiga, which later prospered as an imperial dojo (training monastery) under Emperor Shomu. It played a crucial role as a temple for prayers during the Mongol invasions of Japan, with 300 monastic buildings erected in the mountains during the time. The temple is now home to several Important Cultural Properties of Japan always on display, including statues of the Thousand-Armed Kannon and Seiga, as well as the Two Heavenly Deities.
In addition to its wealth of artifacts, the temple’s Shinji Garden is a must-see. It’s most famous for its autumn foliage, best seen on its giant maple treeーwhich is over 400 years old and a designated Natural Monument of Fukuokaーand bolstered by more than 200 other maples flaunting vibrant colors.
Admission Fee for Temple:
- Adults (high school and older): 400 yen
- Children (junior high and under): Free
Admission Fee for Grounds (November only):
- Adults (high school and older): 100 yen
- Children (junior high and under): Free
*This admission fee is for those only visiting the giant maple and outer garden in November.
Former Kurauchi Family Garden (Strolling-Style, Chikujo, Chikujo District)
The Former Kurauchi Residence served as the home for three generations of the Kurauchi familyーJirosaku, Yasufusa, and Jirobeiーwho were prominent coal miners in the Chikuho region of Fukuoka Prefecture, ranked among Japan's top ten producers from the Meiji to early Showa Period. Its historical significance saw the entire estate, including its buildings, gardens, and surroundings, designated as a National Place of Scenic Beauty.
The estate features a large strolling-style garden around a central pond, whose water is drawn from a local irrigation channel. Notable attractions include the dry waterfall rock arrangements, paired arch bridges, and stone lanterns. Expansions over time saw the addition of inner courtyards and dry streambeds, yielding a wealth of different sceneries that can be taken in from multiple tatami-matted seating areas. Periodic exhibitions are held during the year, and sencha tea service is available for a fee.
Admission Fee (Individual):
- General (high school and older): 310 yen
- Children (elementary/junior high school): 100 yen
Tachibana Garden Ohana (Contemplation-Style, Yanagawa City)
Tachibana Garden encompasses the former villa of the Tachibana family, who once ruled the Yanagawa Domain. Today, the estate is referred to as "Ohana," and includes a ryokan-restaurant and Great Hall facing its Shotoen Garden. This is a contemplation-style garden with a central pond adorned by carefully positioned rocks forming miniature islands, with around 300 pine trees over 200 years old encircling it.
Ohana also includes an East Garden and a garden in front of the Western-style Seiyokan guesthouse, both offering unique charms. All of these flourishes earned its ranking as a National Place of Scenic Beauty under the title “Tachibana Garden.”
Admission Fee for Ohana:
- General: 1,000 yen
- High school students: 500 yen
- Elementary and junior high school students: 400 yen
*Fee includes access to Shotoen Garden, the Great Hall, and the Tachibana Museum.
*Free for overnight ryokan guests.
Toshima Family Garden (Contemplation-Style, Yanagawa City)
The Toshima Family Garden was initially built as the retirement residence of Yoshida Kanetomo, a prominent figure in Yanagawa during the Edo Period. It features a two-story thatched-roof home and contemplation-style garden with a pond filled with water from Yanagawa’s numerous canals.
Later, the property was offered to the ruling Tachibana family, and used for tea ceremonies. During the Meiji Restoration, it was passed on to the Yufu family, retainers of the Yanagawa Domain, before eventually coming into the ownership of the Toshima family, who were also retainers, and used as their private residence. After being designated as a Place of Scenic Beauty, it was donated to Yanagawa City and opened to the public after three years of restoration.
The garden pond’s edge is marked by an arrangement of stones, gravel, sticks, and stone walls. Despite being inside the city, it is separated from its urban surroundings by hedges and trees, creating an atmosphere akin to a deep mountain forest.
- General (elementary school and older): 100 yen
Kiyomizu Temple Honbo Garden (Contemplation-Style, Miyama City)
Kiyomizu Temple Honbo Garden, recognized as a National Scenic Garden, has its roots in the artistry of Sesshu, a celebrated painter and Zen monk from the Muromachi Period. It’s said that Sesshu, after immersing himself in landscape painting techniques in China, brought his expertise to life in the form of this magnificent garden.
Kiyomizu Temple Honbo Garden seamlessly melds the scenic backdrop of Mt. Atago into its layout, complemented by a central pond designed in the shape of the kanji character for “heart,” along with garden stones and waterfalls in its depths. It harmonizes with the surrounding wilderness, offering magnificent views throughout the seasons, like cherry blossoms in spring, fresh greenery in early summer, colorful autumn foliage, and snow in winter. Also, during the mid-autumn full moon, the pond reflects the moon as it rises from Mt. Atago, capturing the hearts of spectators.
- Adults: 300 yen
Former Residence of Ito Denemon Gardens (Strolling-Style, Iizuka City)
Spanning almost 5,000 m², this magnificent garden spreads out across the Former Residence of Ito Denemon, a coal mining magnate of the Chikuho region, and Byakuren Yanagiwara, nicknamed the “Queen of Tsukushi.” The garden is a National Place of Scenic Beauty consisting of three areas: a courtyard centered around a circular driveway in front of the entrance, an inner courtyard, and a huge main garden extending north of the property.
The strolling-style main garden has two ponds with stone bridges, gentle background hills, fountains, several types of stone lanterns, and an octagonal thatched-roof hilltop arbor. It is considered a masterpiece of garden design.
- Adults: 310 yen
- Children (elementary and junior high school): 100 yen
*Free on Saturdays for elementary, junior high, and high school students.
Don’t Miss Byakuren's Room on the 2nd Floor
On the 2nd floor of the Former Residence of Ito Denemon is Byakuren's room, which provides the most beautiful view of the garden. The interior is exquisitely decorated, featuring elements like finely crafted “ranma” (transom) and closets adorned with silver leaf, all the work of talented temple carpenters from Kyoto.
Former Kameishibo Garden (Contemplation-Style, Soeda, Tagawa District)
Kameishibo is located near the approach to Hikosan Jingu Shrine, on the mountainside of the sacred Mt. Hiko in Soeda. It has a contemplation-style garden with a pond that is believed to have been designed by Sesshu, and is a designated National Place of Scenic Beauty.
One highlight is its cloud-shaped pond, which is surrounded by a well-balanced arrangement of stones resembling turtle shells and crane necks. The garden is said to have been crafted during Sesshu's three-year stay in the Muromachi Period, and has been preserved in its original form, allowing his distinctive style to shine through. It's counted among Sesshu's four great gardens.
The Breathtaking Autumn Foliage of Japanese Gardens
In Japan’s gorgeous autumn season, when the leaves turn vivid shades of red, orange, and yellow, Japanese gardens take on a heightened beauty with a warm and ethereal atmosphere. The best time to witness this spectacle is typically from early November to early December. Together with the many parks, promenades, and slices of wilderness flaunting Fukuoka's famous fall foliage, be sure to add a traditional Japanese garden to your autumn itinerary to experience the best of this natural wonder.
The gardens below are steeped in history and tradition, so make sure to follow the correct viewing methods and etiquette during your visit.
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