Scenic Sights of Saga: The Rich Autumn Foliage of Kunen’an


The extensive grounds are splashed with color in autumn.

Kunen’an is a designated national site of scenic beauty particularly famous for its autumn foliage. It consists of a villa built for the Saga entrepreneur Itami Yatarō, and gardens laid out under the direction of a local Jōdo Shinshu priest named Hotori who was also a noted landscape gardener. The name Kunen’an, meaning cottage of nine years, refers to the nine years it took to complete the gardens which were begun in 1900.

The villa is built in the sukiya-zukuri style combining elements of traditional tea house and shoin aristocratic residential architecture. The beautiful gardens, which integrate the distant landscape of the Tsukushi plains in the shakkei “borrowed scenery” style, are planted with azaleas and maples, interspersed with indigenous trees and lush carpets of juniper moss. In the autumn, the expanse of 6,800 square meters is transformed by the beautiful fall foliage of the trees. The gardens are only open to the public twice a year, in the spring at the time of fresh green growth and in the autumn.

Access: 15 minutes by taxi or bus from Kanzaki Station on the JR Nagasaki Main Line

Website: Saga, Japan Official Travel Guide, Saga Trip Genius

(Banner photo: An elegant example of refined sukiya-zukuri architecture. Information courtesy of the Saga Prefectural Tourism Federation.)

Japanese inn tourism autumn foliage gardens Saga