Six Days in Shikoku: The Teahouses of Ritsurin Garden

In the background of the photo is a forested hill on the left, and white sky on the right.  At the base of the hill is a teahouse, and before it is a pond.  In the lower right of the photo is a bonsai pine tree

One of the highlights of Ritsurin Garden (described in the previous post) is the teahouse.

This map shows that Takamatsu is on the northern tip on the eastern side of Shikoku island

Ritsurin Garden is in Takamatsu

There are actually a few teahouses in the garden, such as the small one shown in the photo below:

In the background, nestled among the green pine trees, we can see a small traditional Japanese building with a thatched roof.  Leading to the building is a path of large stones set into an area of sand.  It's clear that this photo was taken under another structure with a thatched roof, and we see the shadow of the thatching at the top of the photo.

At the time I visited, the only teahouse open to the public was the largest one, Kikugetsu-tei (Moon Scooping Pavilion).

We see a rectangular Japanese-style building jutting into a pond, with bonsai pine trees on the left side.

What do you do in the teahouse? Why, you drink tea!

The interior of the teahouse, with the open airy room, the tatami mats on the floor, and the traidtional wooden panelling on the walls.

While you are waiting for your tea and local variety of sweet mochi, you can enjoy the views.

Looking out of the teahouse, there is a bonsai pine tree, with a little stone basin full of water below it, and various green plants surrounding it

Looking out of the wooden platform, we see a group of elegantly prune bonsai pine trees in a field of carefully raked gravel

On the left side, a full-sized pine tree towers above, and a bonsai pine tree stands before it, with a group of large rocks lining the bottom of the picture.  In the upper right there is white sky, and below the white sky is a vast pond.

And once you have been served matcha tea and mochi, you can enjoy the tea, mochi, and the views all at the same time.

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I ending up drinking quite a few traditionally-prepared cups of matcha tea in historic teahouses in Japan, and I enjoyed every single cup and accompanying dessert. The tea and mochi were, as usual, very good. However, I don’t think I visited any other teahouse in Japan which had views as beautiful as this one.

There is a large pine tree supported by wooden beans filling most of the picture, and behind it is the pond, which looks small by comparison.

One of the things which makes Kikugetsu-tei so special is that it can be viewed from so many different angles, from both the inside and outside, and look fresh from every direction. Indeed, allowing a landscape to look new and fresh from multiple angles was a basic principle of traditional Japanese leisure gardens, and I think the designers of Ritsurin garden succeeded in this.

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From the outside, the teahouse enhances the overall aesthetic beauty of the garden in better than other teahouse I saw in Japan does.

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I walked around and looked at the teahouse from the outside after I had drunk the tea, so looking upon it brought back a memory of satisfying tea. However, I suppose I could have done it the other way around, and scope out the teahouse longingly, building up anticipation until I finally entered the teahouse and ordered tea.

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After enjoying myself in Ritsurin Garden, I took the local tram back to downtown Takamatsu, checked out of the hotel, and hopped on a bus to my next destination, Tokushima City. The next post will present one of the iconic features of Tokushima. But for now, a final photo of Ritsurin Garden.

At the bottom of the picture is the pond.  On the left is a grey egret.  Above there is a bunch of bonsai pine trees, with the teahouse barely visible behind the bonsai.

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