Vegetarian's Japan Guide

The Best Guide to Kōkōen – Himeji Castle’s Stunning Garden

While the famous Kōrakuen Garden in Okayama was chosen to be one of the Three Greatest Gardens in Japan, we really think Kōkōen Garden (好古園) deserves a lot more publicity overall. Compared to Kōrakuen, Kōkōen Garden in Himeji has a lot more features, including nine small unique gardens that were constructed in line with Edo gardening principles.

If you are visiting the famous Himeji Castle, you certainly can’t miss its Kōkōen Garden that is just across the castle’s moat (especially with great savings by purchasing the combo entrance tickets!).

Kōkōen Garden is a recently constructed Japanese-style garden that opened in 1992. It was built to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of Himeji becoming a municipality. Where the garden is located was once the residences of the Himeji Castle’s Lord and other high rankings samurais.

A famous landscape scholar, Professor Makoto Nakamura of Kyoto University, and the 15th Grand Tea Master of Urasenke Tea School were chosen to design and supervise the construction of the garden.

Based on the original layout of the historical residences and passageways, they artfully used the remains of walls and passageways from the 16th century to design 9 different gardens, including a tea house. This is why the garden’s walls are traditional mud walls with roof tiles.

At Kōkōen’s unique gardens, you can expect to see and experience most of Japan’s garden elements, such as bamboo, pine trees, different water features, and Koi fish!

Even though the Himeji Castle next door was packed with visitors, when we visited the garden, it wasn’t crowded at all (=゚ω゚)ノ.

Click HERE for Kōkōen’s garden map that tells you different scenic spots!

Also, don’t forget to take a photo here with Himeji Castle in the background!

HERE is the link to any of the future events!

Booking an English Guided Tour

If you would like an English-speaking tour guide to introduce Himeji Castle and Kōkōen Garden to you, make a booking with one of the two tour guide groups.

Tea House Sōju-An (茶室 双樹庵)

When you visit Kōkōen Garden, you definitely can’t miss out on its tea house!

The 15th Grand Tea Master of Urasenke Tea School designed the tea room similar to the one originally used by the samurais back in the Edo period.

At Sōju-an, you can enjoy a cup of well-prepared Macha green tea with a delicious traditional Japanese sweet while adoring the view of a beautifully designed garden with Himeji Castle as its stunning backdrop!

Sōju-An’s Opening Hours and Admission Fee

  • The tea house is open daily between 1 pm and 4 pm with 6 tea sessions that you can join. Each session lasts for around 30 minutes
  • Sōju-An is closed between the 21st of December and the 5th of January
  • With just 500 yen, you will be able to enjoy a cup of freshly prepared matcha green tea and a delicious traditional Japanese sweet

Kōkōen Garden’s Access Information, the Admission Fees, and Opening Hours

  • The garden is just next to Himeji Castle. With the entrance to the castle at your back, the garden will be on your right-hand side. For further details, please refer to our Himeji Castle article
  • The admission fee is
    • 310 yen for adults above 18 years of age
    • 150 yen for elementary and high school students
  • Kōkōen is open from 9 am to 5 pm daily
    • The last admission at 4:30 pm
    • From the 27th of April to the 31st of August, the garden closes an hour late at 6 pm
      • The last admission at 5:30 pm
  • The garden is closed on the 29th and the 30th of December

Note: the opening hours may change if there are planned events on the day.

Combined Ticket for Himeji Castle and Kōkōen Garden

  • 18 years old and older: 1,050 yen (260 yen saving)
  • Elementary and high school students: 360 yen (90 yen saving)

More Travel Ideas in the Area

Extend Your Visit to Mt. Shosha!

Mt-Shosha-Engyoji-Temple-Entrance
Click the photo to find out more about Mt. Shosha!

From Himeji Station, make a short excursion to Engyōji Temple at Mt Shosha to enjoy the peaceful atmosphere this hidden gem has to offer!

As this place is less well-known, you won’t be surrounded by thousands of tourists. And, the view from the cable car as well as from the observatories in the mountain is spectacular!

For more information about the destination, please refer to our article on Mt. Shosha!

Visit the Venice of Japan – Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter!

Kurashiki Canal Okayama
Click the photo to find out more about Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter!

Just around a 60-minute train ride from Himeji Station, the Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter is famed as the Venice of Japan. The area with traditional houses and willow trees lined at the banks of the canal is one of the country’s most popular movie filming spots.

On top of the trendy cafes and restaurants, the area also has many cultural facilities, including the Ōhara Museum of Art (which has a collection of international masterpieces), the Kurashiki Museum of Folkcraft, and the Kurashiki Archeological Museum.

For more information, please refer to our article on Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter!

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