Nakazu Banshoen (Daimyo garden) – Kagawa tourist spot

Ritsurin Garden (栗林公園) is a famous sightseeing spot in Kagawa Prefecture. It is one of the leading tourist attractions in Kagawa, where 700,000 people visit each year. It is popular in Takamatsu City because it is easy to access and you can enjoy Daimyo Garden.

Do you know Nakazu Banshoen (中津万象園) in Marugame City?

If you want to know about the historic Daimyo Garden and the beauty of Japanese gardens, I recommend visiting not only Ritsurin Garden but also the Nakazu Banshoen Garden.

The entrance gate of Nakazu Banshoen Garden, Marugame Museum and Kaifutei restaurant.

This webpage introduces sightseeing points of Nakazu Banshoen garden and restaurant.

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Ritsurin Garden vs Nakazu Banshoen

Ritsurin GardenNakazu Banshoen
Annual visitorsabout 700,000about 50,000
Commencementfirst feudal lord of Takamatsu
Matsudaira Yorishige
2th feudal lord of Marugame
Kyogoku Takatoyo
Completionin 1745
5th feudal lord of Takamatsu
in 1688
5th feudal lord of Marugame
Area1600 are560 are
Parking lotPaid parking onlyFree parking
Regular holidayopen all year roundevery Wednesday
Opening hoursVaries depending on the season9:30 AM
Closing hoursVaries depending on the season5 PM
RestaurantGarden Cafe RitsurinKaifutei (懐風亭)

Nakazu Banshoen is a villa in Marugame Castle

Nakazu Banshoen was originally built as a villa on the land of Nakazu by the second lord Kyogoku Takatoyo who was the lord of Marugame Castle.

Marugame Castle of the Kyogoku family. 100,000 visitors per year
Marugame Castle visited by 100,000 people a year

Marugame Castle is located in the city of Marugame. It is a 10-minute walk south from Marugame Station. It is one of the existing 12 castle towers built before the Edo period and is known as the famous castle of Ishigaki.

Three of the best in Japan
  • Japan’s smallest castle tower
  • Japan’s tallest stone wall (Ishigaki)
  • Japan’s deepest well

The Nakazu Banshoen, located about 3 km away from the castle, was created as a separate residence by the Kyogoku family who governed Marugame.

  • Ritsurin Garden is the villa of Takamatsu Castle, that ruled the east of Kagawa.
  • Nakazu Banshoen is the villa of Marugame Castle, that ruled the west of Kagawa.

Nakazu Banshoen Guide

Daimyo Garden walking around the pond

Nakazu Banshoen is a Daimyo Garden that walks around the pond like Ritsurin Garden. This is because the garden around the pond is one of the features of the Japanese historic Daimyo Garden.

Panoramic view of Nakazu Banshoen Garden
Kyogoku Takatoyo
Daimyo Kyogoku Takatoyo

There is a secret to the design of the Nakazu Banshoen pond. The pond and islands in the center of the garden are inspired by Lake Biwa in Shiga Prefecture, the home of the Kyogoku family.

In the pond, there are eight islands that reflect the beauty of Shiga and Lake Biwa, with the image of their hometown. Each island is connected by a bridge, and it is designed to take a walk not only around the pond but also within the island.

Now it is forbidden to go to Ho no Shima (帆の島).

Recommended point 1

Each of the eight islands has a name. Each island has a bridge, and the design of the bridge is all different, making you feel playful mind.

the stepping stone Suiren Bridge in NakazuBanshoen

In particular, the bridge that goes to Gan no Shima (雁の島), the stepping stone Suiren Bridge is thrilling and fun.

Enjoy and relax in a short time

Nakazu Banshoen has much fewer visitors than Ritsurin Garden (50,000 vs 700,000 annually). Therefore, the people in the garden are sparse, so you can enjoy the beauty of the Japanese garden in a calm atmosphere.

It is recommended on weekdays because there are especially few people.

Since the circumference of the pond is about 1 km, I think that it is just the right length for a walk in the garden. Of course, there are places to rest.

Get a guide map when entering the Banshoen garden
Get a guide map when entering the Banshoen garden

The sightseeing time for one round is about 30 minutes, you can enjoy the outer route walking around the pond and the inner route walking around the island twice.

Yogetsubashi Bridge overlooking the garden

Yogetsubashi is the largest bridge in Nakazu Banshoen.

Yogetsubashi (邀月橋) is the largest bridge in Nakazu Banshoen.

There is a meaning of inviting to “邀”, and this red arched bridge has the meaning of a bridge that greets the moon. A beautiful moon can be seen from this bridge in the harvest moon (August 15 in the old calendar).

In the daytime it is also a bridge overlooking the garden, making it a great photo point.

Yogetsubasho bridge overlooking the Banshoen Daimyo garden
Recommended point 2

Across the Yogetsukyo bridge, there is the His Highness Mikasamiya Takahito’s hand-planted Japanese white pine. He is a japanese imperial family and the younger brother of Emperor Showa.

His Highness Mikasamiya Takahito's hand-planted Japanese white pine

At the end of the pine, there is a shooting place with the back of the Yogetsukyo bridge so you can take a commemorative photo.

good shooting place in NakazuBanshoen

Huge umbrella pine with a diameter of 15 meters

Chiyo no Kasamatsu (千代の傘松). Huge pine with a diameter of 15 meters

Nakazu Banshoen has a huge pine tree 15 meters (49 ft) in diameter. This huge pine has the shape of an umbrella and is named “Chiyo no Kasamatsu (千代の傘松)”. This pine tree has been selected as one of Japan’s top 100 pine trees.

  • Chiyo means long years and eternity.
  • Shiga Prefecture’s “Utsukushimatsu” pine was made into an umbrella shape over 300 years.
  • The tree is 600 years old.
  • It takes 30 people to prune the branches.

A thick pine tree trunk. Chiyo no Kasamatsu
Recommended point 3

Utsukushimatsu is a japanese red pine that is a natural monument in Shiga Prefecture, the home of the Kyogoku family. The tree shape with branches radiating from near the root has a unique appearance.

Fan-shaped pine in Nakazu Banshoen
Fan-shaped pine

Nakazu Banshoen is planted not only in Chiyo no Kasamatsu pine but also in various places.

Recommended point 4

There is a main house (tea house) on the north side of Chiyo no Kasamatsu. This building has a “万象園 (Banshoen)” wood tablet written by Nomura Motosuke.

The installation of the tea house in the garden is one of the features of the japanese historic Daimyo garden.

Main house (tea house), Banshoen garden

The Nakazu Banshoen Garden in the Edo period is said to have been called Nakazu Villa or Nakazu Tea House.

The name of Nakazu Banshoen is the reason why Nomura Motosuke, who excelled in calligraphy and tea ceremony in the Meiji period, wrote “Banshoen” on the tablet of the tea room.

the name of Banshoen (万象園)

It is said that the name of Banshoen (万象園) has the meaning of a garden that represents Nature (the universe).

Kanchoro, Japan’s oldest existing Sencha room

Nakazu Banshoen is the oldest Japanese Sencha room (tea house) that was built in the late Edo period. It was named Kanchoro and became a tangible cultural property designated by Marugame City in 1975.

Japan's oldest existing Sencha room Kanchoro (観潮楼)

The Kanchoro was built on a raised-floor-style, and people could have enjoyed the scenery of the Seto Inland Sea rise and fall and a pine-covered area in the garden.

Normally, the inside of the Kanchoro is not open to the public.

Various Shinto and Buddhism are enshrined

Unlike Ritsurin Garden, there are several Shinto Gods and Buddhist Buddhas inside the Nakazu Banshoen garden.

  • Benzaiten (弁財天)
  • Fushimi Inari Branch shrine (伏見稲荷分社)
  • Stone throwing Jizo (石投げ地蔵)
  • Swan Kannon (白鳥観音)
  • Yin Yang stone (陰陽石)

The various Shinto and Buddhism are related to the name of Banshoen.

The Benzaiten shrine enshrines the Benzaiten of Chikubushima Island in Lake Biwa, the ancestor of the Kyogoku family. The Fushimi Inari Branch shrine was built separately from the Kyoto Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine that the Kyogoku family believed. Jizo is a Buddhist saint that has been here since a long time ago. Yin Yang stone directly represents women and men, but it is based on the traveler’s guardian deity that were folk-religious.

More than 60 red torii
More than 60 red torii
Nakazu Banshoen Benzaiten
Nakazu Banshoen Benzaiten

Swan Kannon statue in Marugame Kagawa
Swan Kannon statue
Recommended point 5

It is said that each Shinto and Buddhism in Nakazu Banshoen has their own benefits. How about making a wish when you walk around the garden?

The name of Stone throwing Jizo comes from the fact that people were throwing stones that wrote their wishes from outside the garden.

Stone throwing Jizo (Ishinage Jizo)
Stone throwing Jizo

Supplementary explanation. The former Jizo statue was sunk in the sea in 1842, and the current Jizo statue was restored.

Recommended point 6

Azumaya of “Gyorakutei (魚楽亭)” on the island.

Azumaya of “Gyorakutei (魚楽亭)”

Azumaya is a simple building for resting in a Japanese garden.

Gyorakutei is said to have been built about 100 years after the completion of the garden, and you can see beautifully the Kanchoro and the main house in the south. In the summer when water lilies bloom, the water surface is beautifully colored.

Gyorakutei view

When you look at the main house from Gyorakutei, you can see “Funetsuki (船付き)” in front.

The north side of the garden is currently being reclaimed. But decades ago it was adjacent to the sea. It is said that the water in the garden pond was drawing in seawater.

The panoramic view of the former Nakazu Banshoen garden does not have a bridge to cross the island, and it was probably entered directly by boat from the sea into the park.

By the way, in modern times, Ritsurin Garden has a service to put a Japanese boat on the pond, but it is not Nakazu Banshoen.

Meal while looking at the garden at Kaifutei

Nakazu Banshoen Restaurant Kaifutei Entrance

Nakazu Banshoen has a restaurant called Kaifutei (懐風亭). Unlike the restaurant (Garden Cafe Ritsurin) of Ritsurin Garden, you can eat without entering the garden. Entrance fee is that there is not need.

Reopened in April 2017 and all rooms have a garden view. Even if you don’t have time to walk around the garden, you can enjoy the atmosphere of the garden while eating.

Nakazu Banshoen’s restaurants are mainly Japanese cuisine. Lunch is reasonably priced at around 1000 to 2000 yen (US$ 10 to 20, NT$290 to 580, 70元 ~ ¥140元).

1000 yen Kaifutei lunch, Weekday-only Shokado

The upper lunch photo is “Weekday-only Shokado” in May 2019. It was a delicious and voluminous meal despite being 1000 yen.

Weekday-only Shokado (平日限定松花堂) will be 1100 yen from October 1, 2019.

Cashless app payment would not be still.

Look at the Daimyo garden (Banshoen) from the restaurant Kaifutei

Easy to go by car because there is free parking

Unlike Ritsurin Garden, Nakazu Banshoen garden and Kaifutei restaurant has a free parking lot. It seems that 30 buses and 100 passenger cars can be stopped in a large parking lot.

Free parking lot at Nakazu Banshoen Garden, Marugame city

There is a parking lot on the opposite side of the road on the south side of the entrance to Manjyoen. Need to cross one signal, but walking distance within 3 minutes.

(There is a small parking lot next to the main entrance of the garden.)

small parking lot next to the main entrance
Discount information by bicycle

The Marugame Rental Bicycle “まるがめレンタサイクル” is located on the south side of Marugame Station, 3 km away from Nakatsu Banshoen. When entering the Nakazu Banshoen garden, you can get a 30% discount on the entrance fee if you show your bicycle key to the reception.

Rental Bicycle building in the south of Marugame Station

The rental fees for standard bicycles without electric assistance is reasonable at 200 yen (US$ 2) for up to 6 hours and 300 yen (US$ 3) all day.

Pay 500 yen at the time of application. When returning the bicycle, the balance of rental fees will be paid to the applicant. When submitting the application form, show your ID (passport, driver’s license etc.).

Kaifutei meals are not discounted.

Various events will be held

Although it may not be for foreign tourists, the Nakazu Banshoen has a Marugame Museum and Citizen Plaza, so various events are held.

Banshoen Events in Civica Square

In conjunction with the fall period of the Setouchi Triennale 2019 and Okayama Art Summit 2019, a sound art “Chosho Hakkei” set in the Nakazu Banshoen garden and the Marugame Museum will be held from September 27th to November 24th.

For details, please check from the official website page “Chosho Hakkei” of Nakazu Banshoen.

Reasons why Nakazu Banshoen was created

Nakazu Banshoen has released “Castle and Daimyo Garden” on youtube.

The video has the following description:

  • There is no literature left describing the reason why the Nakazu Banshoen was made.
  • Kyogoku Takatoyo, who was a cultured person, had the idea that good things will not be destroyed in any age.
  • According to Takamatsu Domain’s record, Ritsurin Garden was created as a public project to save the people from the hardship caused by bad harvests. The Nakazu Banshoen that started at the same time may have been a public project to save Marugame’s people.
  • Share your culture. Although it was a garden of Daimyo, ordinary people were allowed to enter it freely during the Edo period.
  • Kyogoku Takatoyo wanted to leave the home of the Kyogoku family as a form of ancestors.

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Summary. Good and not quite of Nakazu Banshoen

Ritsurin Garden is a famous tourist spot in Kagawa, but it is a magnificent Daimyo Garden that is not inferior to the Nakazu Banshoen. Here are some points that are better or worse than Ritsurin Park.

  • It is small daimyo garden than the Ritsurin Garden, but it is a garden walk rich in change.
  • More than 1000 pine trees are well maintained.
  • You can enjoy the beautiful Daimyo Garden in a short time.
  • Inside the garden, there are Tokikan and Kaibotei (Uchiwanosato) building where you can enter for free.
  • Those who rented bicycles have a discount on admission fees.
  • You can eat while looking at the garden from the restaurant without entering the garden.
  • There is a large free parking lot.
Recommended point 7
Kaibotei (Uchiwanosato)

The local speciality of Marugame city is a paper fan. It has 90% of the production volume of Japan. It has become a brand called “Marugame Uchiwa”. You can see the Marugame Uchiwa at Uchiwa no Sato. Kaibotei on the second floor of the building is a resting place.


Tokikan building exhibits colorful pottery and glassware from around 2500 BC to the 13th century, excavated mainly in Iran and Iraq. Old Buddha statues are also on display.

Both buildings are free to enter, but photography inside is prohibited.

  • The admission fee is slightly high. Discount service is not as good as Ritsurin Garden.
  • There are no garden tour guides or multilingual audio guides. Other than Japanese is unkind.
  • Wheelchairs can be rented for free, but wheelchair movement is inconvenient.
  • No cashless app.

In the fall of the Setouchi Triennale in 2019, the Honjima island and Takamijima island will be the venues, and you will visit the nearby Nakazu Banshoen. This garden is not far from Marugame Port and Tadotsu Port.

There are places where the service is unsatisfactory to get a 5 star rating, but the scenic garden is worth a visit.

The memorial song monument, Naka no Minato

There was a person named Kakinomotonohitomaro (柿本人麻呂) who was a poet 1300 years ago. This person left Kagawa from 中乃水門 (Nakano Minato) that was in this area, and left a song that praised the scenic beauty starting with “Tamamoyoshi”. It’s a beautiful place left in poetry. (The memorial song monument is in the garden.)

Finally, link to the official website of Nakazu Banshoen and Kaifutei. Check here for more information.

Nakazu Banshoen / Marugame Museum

Official website 中津万象園 / 丸亀美術館

Address 25-1 Nakazucho, Marugame City, Kagawa Prefecture

Parking lot Free parking for 100 passenger cars

Opening hours 9: 30-17: 00 (last reception 16:30)

Closed Wednesday

Admission price for adults 700 yen for the garden, 500 yen for the museum

Admission price for children under 16 300 yen for the garden, 200 yen for the museum
Note: Prices as of September 2019

Kaifutei Restaurant

Official website 中津万象園味処 懐風亭

Address 25-1 Nakazucho, Marugame City, Kagawa Prefecture

Parking lot Free parking, same parking lot as Nakazu Banshoen and Marugame Museum

Opening hours for lunch 11: 00-14: 30 (last order 14:00)

Opening hours for dinner 17: 00-21: 30 (last order 20:30)
Note: No opening for breakfast

Closed Wednesday
Note: Reservations are required for Tuesday dinner

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