Old buildings brought over from Kyoto and Kamakura to Sankei-en
In 1906 Yokohama, Sankei Hara, who was successful in the raw silk trade, established the ideal garden on a huge site of 17.5 hectares. Old buildings from cities such as Kyoto and Kamakura were transported, and a total of 17 structures were carefully placed in consideration of the land’s natural topography. Of these buildings, 10 have been recognized as National Important Cultural Properties while 3 have been recognized as Yokohama Tangible Cultural Properties. The natural scenery and the formative art born from the Japanese architecture placed there evoke a beauty that can only be found at this garden.
Sankei Memorial, a collection of old and modern Japanese art
Sankei Hara was not only a success as a businessman, but was also a man possessed of a fine sense for the arts, and in fact, also dabbled in painting and writing. He also gained fame as a collector of old and modern Japanese art. In his lifetime, Hara was a patron for painters and sculptors, and used Sankei-en as a training ground and support base for rising artists, and helped many of Japan’s modern painters (Seison Maeda, Taikan Yokoyama, Kanzan Shimomura, etc.). At Sankan Memorial, which is located within the garden, there are displays of Sankei’s own paintings and writings, the works of related artists, fine and applied arts, and the original sliding door paintings from the old building of Rinshunkaku among other exhibits. Also, at Bototei, which is a teahouse in the lobby of the memorial, you can actually sample matcha tea there so if you are interested, why don’t you give it a try?
The garden recovering from the damage of the Second World War
Sankei-en suffered wartime damage following the death of the founder, and the Hara family donated the garden to the city of Yokohama afterwards. It is now maintained by the Sankei Hosho Foundation, and following its postwar recovery, it was recognized as a National Historic Site in 2006 and is continuing to attract visitors with its unchanging beauty. Sankei-en is not just limited to the picturesque scenery of its landscape gardening or the beauty of its buildings as National Important Cultural Properties, but it also has the highlight of its changing scenery through the flowers of the four seasons. There are the cherry blossoms of spring, the irises of summer, the foliage of autumn, the quintessentially Japanese scene of winter, and camellia. How about spending a day getting a sense of the original beauty of Japan at this Japanese garden which has its own distinctive expressions depending on the season. In particular, the evening illumination of the springtime cherry blossoms lends a mystical air which explains its annual popularity.
The creation of this garden by the wealthy Sankei Hara gives an enthusiasm towards the traditional beauty of Japan. From his own art works to the blossoms and stones placed in the garden, these aren’t merely simple objects but are examples of the philosophy of the man himself. By all means, please come and experience Sankei-en.