Although the rooms and buildings of the elegant Kiun-Kaku in central Atami City are nice enough, the gardens that they enclose might be even better. It is visible from most rooms in the complex, and every view is different, so much that sometimes you feel you are looking at a completely different place depending on in which room you are located. It is also possible to go for a stroll in the garden, along the paths provided for visitors, if you want to get closer to it. My favorite part was the retro-styled cafe though, which has one of the best views of the garden, if you are lucky enough to get a seat with a good view!
In the sea-side city of Atami in the western Shizuoka Prefecture one of the best sight seeing spots is without a doubt the refined Kiun-Kaku mansion (起雲閣). The compound has been built and expanded tastefully and gradually from 1919 to the present day, having served as everything from the house built to his mother by a loving son to a high class traditional hotel popular with the elite of Japanese literature. Today the house is a tasteful mix of Japanese, Asian and western styles and motifs, all the building surrounding a very beautiful traditional Japanese garden landscape. It is an easy 20 min walk from the station and the entrance fee is about 500 yen. If you are a fan of traditional housing and Japanese architecture, this is a must visit! More photos to come.
The garden at the Taishakuten really is beautiful. Even on an overcast days as when I visited, muddy pond and drooping leaves and all, it was still gorgeous. As you walk around the garden on the covered and elevated wooden walkways (without your shoes of course!), you’ll discover lots of little alcoves and hidden spots with statues and inscriptions to keep you occupied. I can only imagine the hundreds of years of labor invested in this garden by generations gardeners and architects!
The walled garden at the famous Taishakuten temple in Tokyo is one of my favorites in Japan. To enter you have to take you shoes off and follow the wooden walkways around the garden, there are plenty of hidden spots and little stops you can do to see the garden which seems to change in appearance depending on the angle you view it from.