“Is it worth it to visit Kanazawa?”
“Should I go to Kanazawa to see Kenrokuen?”
“Should I visit Kanazawa on my trip to Japan?”

These are questions that we’re asked all the time, and there’s only one answer to this question: Oh, hell yes.

Kanazawa is one of the most elegant and classy cities that you can visit in Japan. One of it’s key draws is one of Japan’s 3 Great Gardens: Kenrokuen.

Kenrokuen is a phenomenal and dare I say, essential, Japanese experience – certainly one of the most memorable ones of a trip in Japan. It’s best when you know what you’re looking at, and know what you’re looking for. Let’s explore.

What does Kenrokuen mean?

The “secret sauce” to kenrokuen lies in its name. Kenrokuen basically means Garden of Six Elements. In Japanese garden landscaping, there are basically six elements that you can potentially (that’s a key word here) find in a garden.

The six elements are:

  1. Extensive space
  2. Quiet seclusion
  3. Human artistry
  4. Old fashioned elegance
  5. Flowing water
  6. Distant views.

In general, it is said that all six elements cannot exist in conjunction with one another. For example, if a garden has extensive space, it cannot have quiet seclusion. If a garden has seclusion, it cannot have extensive spaciousness.

Well, that was until Kenrokuen came along. It received its name from Matsudaira Sadanobu (an important Japanese guy from the Edo Period, look him up) because it satisfied all six elements.

It’s unique thing to observe and experience, and bearing this in mind while walking through the garden makes it all that more special. If you visit other gardens in Japan, try to see which elements they hit and which elements they’re missing. It’s quite fascinating.

But yes, Kenrokuen is absolutely worth visiting, as is Kanazawa – my favorite city in Japan, and somewhere that I’d comfortably call my second home.

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