Senganen Garden, Kagoshima, Kyushu, Japan…
Senganen Garden, also known as Isoteien is a Japanese style landscape garden along the coast north of downtown Kagoshima. One of the garden’s most striking feature is its use of Sakurajima volcano and Kagoshima Bay as borrowed scenery. It also includes small ponds, streams, a cat(neko) shrine(yesss!) and a bamboo grove. 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 – presently Kagoshima for almost 700 years, until 1868. They also continued to be influential throughout the modern era as some of the earliest adopters of Western science and technology.
At the center of the garden stands the Iso Residence; it was originally built in 1658 along with the rest of the garden, but the current building mostly dates back to a reconstruction of the mid 1880s. After the end of the feudal age, the Iso Residence became the main residence of the Shimazu family, and its rooms are preserved the way they used to be in the 1890’s. Senganen has a variety of trees and plants that make the garden scenery interesting all year long. There are a number of cherry trees, especially of the early flowering “kanhizakura” variety, which open as early as late January.
N.B. Kagoshima is Kyushu’s southernmost major city and the capital of Kagoshima Prefecture. The city is often compared to Naples, its Italian “sister city”, due to a similarly mild climate, palm tree lined streets, relatively hot tempered inhabitants and Sakurajima, Kagoshima’s Vesuvius.