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Vegetarian's Japan Guide

Suma Rikyū Park: The Scenic Park That Was an Imperial Villa

Visiting a place related to the imperial family always feels a bit special. So, stop by the Suma Rikyū Park (神戸市立須磨離宮公園) if you visit Kobe in spring to early summer. The park is best known for the fountain garden reminiscent of the Palace of Versailles. The panoramic view of Osaka Bay is also impressive. Moreover, you will be amazed by the scenery created by thousands of roses and irises. The plum blossoms are another reason locals visit the park in early spring.

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About Suma Rikyū Park

As its name suggested, the park was transformed from an imperial villa. The Muko Imperial Villa (武庫離宮), built in 1914, was transformed into an urban park in 1962 to commemorate the wedding of Emperor Heisei. Among Japan’s Top 100 Urban Parks, the Suma Rikyū Park is the only one where you can find remains of an imperial villa.

If you are a history buff, checking out the remains of the imperial villa is what you will enjoy at Suma Rikyū Park. Although the imperial villa was largely destroyed in World War II, the main gate, middle gate, stonework, and stone lanterns still retain the appearance of over 100 years ago. The tunnel connecting the main park area and the botanical garden is also one of the remains of the imperial villa.

© photo-ac.com
© photo-ac.com

The most popular spot among children is the challenge course area called The Children’s Forest Adventure Course (子供の森冒険コース). There are 28 obstacle courses for the youngsters to be physically challenged. The younger children will also enjoy various playground equipment in the park.

© photo-ac.com

The Flowers at Suma Rikyū Park

The rose gardens are what the Suma Rikyū Park is known for. Over 4,000 roses of 300 varieties are planted. From mid-May to late June and mid-October to November, the rose garden is more colorful and filled with the rose’s nice scent. The rose gardens are divided into three areas:

  • Royalty’s Rose Garden (王侯貴族のバラ園): The roses in the garden are named after royalty and celebrities from around the world.
  • Rose History and Culture Garden (バラの歴史と文化園): You will find the original varieties of roses and those that were selected breeding.
  • World Hall of Fame Rose Garden (世界殿堂入りバラ園): The roses here were chosen by the World Rose Convention (世界バラ会議).

Usually, a Spring Rose Party (春のバラ観賞会) is held from the beginning of May to the beginning of June. In 2024, it was held from the 3rd of May to the 2nd of June.

Tip: Rose’s peak season is usually between mid to late May and late October to early November.

The Plum Blossoms and the Baiken Chakai Tea Party (梅見茶会)

In the Botanical Garden Area (植物園エリア), opened in 1979, there is a plum grove of a size of 1,500 square meters. The 160 plum blossoms of 25 varieties at Suma Rikyū Park usually bloom from early February to mid-March. Similar to the Kōzugū Shrine in Osaka, a plum blossom event is held in early February. Instead of a ritual offering plum blossoms to the god, a traditional tea party is held at Suma Rikyū Park. The party is held in the traditional house’s tatami mat-covered room. You can enjoy freshly made matcha tea and Japanese confectionery while overlooking the Japanese garden.

  • In 2024, the Baiken Chakai Tea Party was held on the 10th of February. The party started at 11 am.
  • The cost to join was 500 yen.
  • Only 120 servings of matcha tea and confectionery were available on the day.

Tip: Coin-operated lockers, wheelchairs, and prams can be rented from the park’s ticket office.

Other Flowers in Suma Rikyū Park

Other flowers that can be found in the park include peonies, hydrangeas, and irises. Of course, the park is also a fall foliage hunting spot. In addition, you will find many more type of flowers in the greenhouse.

Suma Rikyū Park is also a great spot to visit for irises. In the Iris Garden, over 4,000 irises of 60 varieties bloom in June. Usually, from early to mid-June, an Iris party is held (花しょうぶ観賞会).

© 神戸観光局

The fall foliage season at Suma Rikyū Park is between mid-November to early December. The park is open at night and will be illuminated during this time.

  • Refer to HERE for Suma Rikyū Park’s flower calendar and the flowers that are blooming at the moment.
  • Refer to HERE for Suma Rikyū Park’s event calendar.

Suma Rikyū Park’s Opening Hours, Admission Fee, and Access Information

  • Suma Rikyū Park is open daily from 9 am to 5 pm from Friday to Wednesday.
    • The last admission is at 4:30 pm.
    • The Children Forest is open from 10 am to 4 pm.
    • If Thursday is a public holiday, the park will open.
    • The park is closed from the 29th of December to the 3rd of January.
  • The admission fee is
    • 400 yen for adults
    • 200 yen for elementary and junior high school students
  • To get to Suma Rikyū Park, you can take the Sanyo Electric Railway and get off at Tsukimiyama Station (月見山駅). The park is then a 10-minute walk.
  • If you plan to take the JR Kobe Line, get off at Suma Station (須磨駅). Then, change to bus route no. 75 and get off at Rikyū Kōen-mae (離宮公園前).
  • You can use one of Japan’s Transport Apps to plan your visit.

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