A Japanese garden without the crowds!

There are many famous traditional gardens in Japan, but it can sometimes be difficult to appreciate the Zen aesthetic because of the crowds… Here in Itoigawa, we are lucky to have two gardens that are almost always tranquil. One is Hisui-en, where you can experience your own private tea ceremony. The other, not far away, is Gyokusui-en. Recently, we took a couple of guests there, and they loved the autumn foliage and the peace and quiet!

The mountainside behind provides perfect borrowed scenery
A photographer’s heaven: perfect weather, autumn colours, and no-one to get in the way!

Right beside the garden is the Tanimura Art Museum. Built by famous architect Togo Murano, the idiosyncratic building is modelled on the sand dunes of the Silk Road, and despite its monolithic appearance, light filters in through various cunningly-hidden openings. Inside are several wooden Buddhist statues carved by sculptor Seiko Sawada.


Why not come and soak up the atmosphere for yourself?


Autumn colours in Shiroike

The hike through the woods up to Shiroike pond is always popular with visitors. In early summer, you can enjoy the delicate green of the new foliage and watch newts swimming in the pond, while at the height of summer you can see all sorts of trees and plants along the path, pointed out by our friendly local nature guide. But arguably the most stunning season is autumn. The mountainside above the pond is covered with beech trees, which turn a beautiful golden brown around the end of October. Here are some photos from a hike with Swiss visitors in early November.


Outside the Salt Trail Museum

If you don’t feel like hiking, the start of the trail is also a perfect spot to sit and read!

“Take as long as you like! Come back in three hours…”

This is some of the foliage along the hiking route.




The mountains on the far side of the mountain show up clearly in the autumn light


And once you get to the pond itself, the views are even better…



Our guest wanted to explore further, so we climbed up the mountainside beyond to another pond and the pass over the mountains.



It was worth the climb for the spectacular views looking back!


The Sea of Japan is visible in the distance, beyond the town


From this winter, we are also offering a hike to the pond using snowshoes. We look forward to welcoming you here and showing you our favourite spots!