Aomori’s Scenic Seibien Garden Combines East and West
Seibien in Hirakawa, Aomori Prefecture, boasts an enchanting Western-style building and a lovely strolling garden with pond designed in the Ōishibugaku style unique to the Tsugaru region. Completed in 1902, the garden is designated a national scenic spot. Its features include finely trimmed Japanese yew trees representing the gods who created heaven and earth and strategically placed stones, all set against the dramatic backdrop of Tsugaru plains and distant mountains.
Overlooking the beautiful expanse of garden is the Seibikan, a fascinating structure blending Western and Japanese architectural features, including a Japanese-style first floor and a Western-style second floor. The building merges smoothly with the garden and has an aura reminiscent of the elegant Rokumeikan, an architectural symbol of Westernization built in Tokyo in 1883 that was famous for its parties and balls.
The gardens and mansions that appear in the popular Studio Ghibli film The Secret World of Arrietty are said to have been modeled on Seibien.
Access: Around 30 minutes by bus from Hirosaki Bus Terminal to Seibienmae on the Kōnan Onoe Line.
(Banner photo: Seibien garden and the elegant Seibikan. Information courtesy of the Aomori Prefectural Government’s Aptinet Aomori Sightseeing Guide.)