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Rakusuien: A Tranquil Japanese Garden in the Heart of the City

About a 10-minute walk from Hakata Station you will find Rakusuien, a Japanese garden with a serene atmosphere. This is originally where the Hakata merchant Shimozawa Zenemon Chikamasa built his second home, Sumiyoshi Villa, in 1906. Chikamasa, along with his father Naomasa, contributed to the development of Hakata for two generations with their family business. Rakusui was Chikamasa’s pen name. Chikamasa established a teahouse called Rakusuian on this site, and it was here that he enjoyed performing tea ceremony.

Rakusuien: A Tranquil Japanese Garden in the Heart of the City

After the war, the villa became an inn called Raksusuiso, and Rakusuien carries on this name to this day. In 1995, Fukuoka City developed the site into a Japanese garden built around a pond and opened it to the public. Carefully placed trees and lanterns surround the pond, and visitors can enjoy seasonal scenery like cherry blossoms in the spring and the changing leaves in the fall. There is also a waterfall made from natural stone, and the garden is so quiet that you will forget that you are in the middle of the city as you stroll through the grounds.

Before you enter Rakusuien, you will notice the Hakata-bei clay walls. In the 16th century, after Hakata was destroyed by battles between warring clans, Toyotomi Hideyoshi ordered the redistricting of the town. Charred fragments of stones and tiles from buildings that had been leveled during the war were repurposed in the earthen walls of shrines, temples and the mansions of wealthy merchants. These unique walls are called Hakata-bei. The Rakusuian tea room in the garden is a restored version of the teahouse originally built by Chikamasa. When not in use for tea ceremonies, visitors can pay a fee and enjoy matcha and seasonal sweets. There is something special about enjoying a cup of green tea served in an authentic tea room.

There is also a suikinkutsu in one corner of the garden. This is a type of musical garden ornament that is made by burying an upside-down jar in the ground under a tsukubai, a stone wash basin where you purify your hands before entering a teahouse. The drops of water from the basin strike the jar to create pleasant tones that reverberate faintly from underground. Rakusuien is also used for official tea ceremonies, nodate (outdoor tea ceremonies) and wedding photo shoots. It serves as an urban oasis together with the nearby Sumiyoshi Shrine.

Published: Jan 30, 2023 / Last Updated: Feb 28, 2023

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