Daikonshima in Japan’s Shimane prefecture is famous for peonies.
Head to the island’s Yuushien garden to see them in all their glory. This garden is kaiyu shiki teien or circuit style: you start at one end and wind your way around many different gardens.
“The most famous place for this spectacle is the little island of Daikonshima (Radish island), in the grand Nakaumi lagoon, about an hour’s sail from Matsue. In May, the whole island flames crimson with peonies; and even the boys and girls of the public schools are given a holiday, in order that they may enjoy the sight.”
In Yuushien, Shimane’s prefectural flower, the peony or botan flowers year round, even in winter, when the blossoms shelter under little thatched roofs. Spring, however, is the best time to see the garden’s display of floating peonies.
Even if you don’t come for the peonies, there are lots of koi-filled ponds, moon bridges, waterfalls, moss gardens, and karesansui or dry landscape gardens to keep you interested. The gardens are arranged in such a way so that you can enjoy different perspectives of the environment. This garden aesthetic is what the Japanese call miegakure or “hide and reveal.”
In a country often battered by natural disasters like tsunamis, typhoons, volcanic eruptions, and earthquakes, the Japanese garden symbolizes how the Japanese try to control nature. It’s a place where they can contain their chaotic world and present it in a stylized form. Most importantly, the Japanese garden remains a therapeutic place that stills the Japanese mind racked by daily anxieties.
Photos: © Live Lyfe Photography
Would you like to visit Yuushien? Read more in my Savvy Tokyo story here!
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