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Senganen Garden

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Senganen Garden and the borrowed scenery of Kagoshima Bay and Sakurajima

Senganen Garden (仙巌園), also known as Isoteien (磯庭園), is a Japanese style landscape garden along the coast north of downtown Kagoshima. One of the garden's most striking features is its use of Sakurajima and Kagoshima Bay as borrowed scenery. The garden also includes small ponds, streams, shrines and a bamboo grove.

Senganen was constructed in 1658 by the wealthy Shimazu Clan, one of the most powerful feudal clans during the Edo Period (1603-1867). The Shimazu ruled the Satsuma domain (present day Kagoshima) for almost 700 years until the end of the feudal age in 1868. They continued to be influential into the modern era as some of the earliest adopters of Western science and technology.

At the center of the garden stands the Iso Residence. The residence was originally built in 1658 along with the rest of the garden, but the current building mostly dates back to a mid 1880s reconstruction. After the end of the feudal age, the Iso Residence became the main residence of the Shimazu family, and its rooms are preserved in the way they were used in the 1890s. The interior of the residence can only be seen on a guided tour that includes tea and a snack at the end. Note that the tour costs an additional 600 yen and there are about three tours per hour.

The Iso Residence

Senganen has a variety of trees and plants that make the garden scenery interesting in all four seasons. There are a number of cherry trees, especially of the early flowering Kanhizakura variety, which open as early as late January. Other cherry tree varieties provide flowers through mid April.

Towards the end of the Edo Period, the Shuseikan Industrial Complex was constructed on the Senganen grounds as part of early local efforts to produce iron for shipbuilding and casting cannons. A large part of the industrial complex is not standing anymore today, but some of its surviving structures, foundations and auxiliary sites have received world heritage status in summer 2015 as part of the Sites of Japan's Meiji Industrial Revolution.

Among the world heritage sites are the foundations of a reverberatory furnace, located inside Senganen's paid area not far from the entrance gate. Furthermore, just outside the garden stands a long stone building that functioned as one of Japan's earliest Western style machinery factories and now houses the Shoko Shuseikan Museum about the Shimazu Clan and their early efforts at industrialization. Entry to the museum is included in the garden's admission ticket.

The foundations of the furnace / The Shoko Shuseikan Museum

Charcoal and hydropower were important sources of energy used to power the machinery at the industrial complex. For that reason, the ruined remains of a charcoal kiln and a sluice gate were also recognized as world heritage sites. Note that the remains of the kiln and sluice gate are located several kilometers away in the nearby hills above Senganen, and are difficult to reach by public transport. Access by rental car is recommended.

The final related site added to the world heritage list is the Ijinkan, a residence for foreign engineers who helped design and build a textile mill in the area. The residence is located a short walk from Senganen and is open to the public. Entry to the Ijinkan requires a separate fee and is not included in the Senganen Garden's admission ticket.

Ijinkan, former residence for foreign engineers

How to get there

Senganen Garden and the Ijinkan can be reached by the Kagoshima City View bus to Senganen-mae bus stop (190 yen per ride or 600 yen for a 1-day pass, departures every 30 minutes). The bus can be boarded at Kagoshima Chuo Station, the Shiroyama Observatory, Kagoshima Aquarium and other tourist spots.

information source: japan-guide.com

Hours: Senganen Garden: 8:30 to 17:30
Ijinkan: 8:30 to 17:30

Admission: Senganen Garden: 1000 yen
Ijinkan: 200 yen

Address: 9700-1, Yoshinocho, Kagoshima-shi, Kagoshima

Airport: Kagoshima Airport

Notes:

Closed:
No closing days

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