A UNESCO World Heritage Site garden that once belonged to the ruling Shimazu clan, the Sengan-en Garden in Kagoshima includes the Shoko Shuseikan Museum and the Iso Residence, used as a summer villa by the Shimazu family. The Japanese-style strolling garden, which dates from the mid-17th century, features streams, ponds, and shrines. The Basics
The Sengan-en Garden was deliberately designed to incorporate the active volcano Sakurajima—which rises from an island above Kagoshima Bay—as “borrowed scenery.” Many travelers visit the gardens independently or on sightseeing tours of Kagoshima. Families visiting the garden may consider joining a samurai experience, in which participants dress up in samurai clothing and pose for photos.
Things to Know Before You Go
How to Get There
- The Sengan-en Garden is a must for those interested in horticulture.
- Garden admission also includes entry to the Shoko Shuseikan Museum, which displays artifacts related to the Shimazu clan.
- There are a number of cafés and restaurants on-site, which serve local specialties such as ramen.
- Visitors who want to see the inside of the Iso Residence must join a guided tour, which costs extra.
The Sengan-en Garden is about a mile (1.5 kilometers) north of central Kagoshima. To get there by bus, take the Kagoshima City View Bus from Kagoshima Chuo station to Sengan-en-mae.
When to Get There
The Sengan-en Garden is open every day until early evening. It’s especially nice to visit during blossom season to see the many cherry and plum trees in bloom, as well as during autumn, when the foliage of many trees turns orange and red.
Take a Ferry to Sakurajima
The active volcano Sakurajima is an important feature of the Sengan-en Garden, despite being in the middle of Kagoshima Bay. A fun way to get a closer look at the mountain is to take a scenic ferry ride on the bay. It’s a short trip, and you can take a gentle walk or a more strenuous hike on Sakurajima.