Start planning your trip
Sorakuen Garden, Kobe - The Highlights Of A Marvelous Public Garden
Sorakuen, located in Kobe City, has traditional Japanese gardens and Western-influenced architecture to enjoy. We'll show you the highlights of this exquisite garden.
What is Sorakuen Garden?
Kobe Convention and Visitors Association
Sorakuen Garden, located in the Chuo ward of Kobe, Hyogo prefecture, contains Japanese gardens as well as the Former Hassam House and the Former Kodera’s Stable, Western buildings that were erected in the Meiji era. In addition, Sorakuen is famous for its azaleas. From April through May, more than 4000 azaleas bloom here. Let’s take a look at how to get to Sorakuen, and what to see when you’re there.
The History of Sorakuen
Originally meant to serve as a Kodera clan residence and garden, construction began on Sorakuen in 1885 on orders issued by the samurai Taijiro Kodera. Sorakuen was completed in 1911. There were many residential buildings within the garden, but during the Kobe air raids in June 1945, every building except for the stable was obliterated. The stable is now a designated Important Cultural Property. In addition, Sorakuen was registered as a National Scenic Spot in 2006 for its value from a historical perspective.
Sorakuen’s Japanese Garden Construction Style: Chisen Kaiyu
The garden on the grounds is built according to the Chisen Kaiyu style. This style is known for having a characteristic man-made central pond, so that visitors can stroll around it and enjoy the garden scenery. Sorakuen’s Japanese garden features stone bridges, man-made waterfalls and a Western-influenced plaza.
The garden is closed every Thursday, or the following day in the event that a national holiday falls on Thursday. However, the garden remains open on Thursdays from late April to early May for Tsutsuji Yuzan, when you can see the azaleas, and during the chrysanthemum flower exhibit (October 20 to November 23).
Getting to Sorakuen
The closest station is the Kencho-mae subway station on the Seishin-Yamate Line. From JR Sannomiya, the hub station for Kobe, head down to the subway (two minutes on foot) and ride the Seishin-Yamate Line until Kencho-mae. The trip takes two minutes and costs 210 yen. The garden is five minutes away from the station.
Recommended Spots at Sorakuen
Former Hassam House
Kobe Convention and Visitors Association
K. Hassam, a British-Indian trader, built this house in 1902. It is now an Important Cultural Property. While it was originally built in the Kitano district, a common location for foreign residences, it was dismantled and rebuilt in Sorakuen in 1963. The house has many characteristics that are emblematic of Meiji-era Western homes, such as bay windows and a gabled roof. The interior is not open to the public.
Former Kodera’s Stable
Built on the orders of former Kobe mayor Kenkichi Kodera, this Western-style building draws the eye with its circular towers and roof. It is a designated Important Cultural Property.
Events at Sorakuen (2017)
Tsutsuji Yuzan: Late April to Early May
During the Tsutsuji Yuzan, an event to welcome the azaleas, there are concerts and other activities. You can participate in a tea ceremony for 400 yen, too.
Kobe Chrysanthemum Exhibit: October 20 to November 23
From October to November, you can see chrysanthemums that have been raised by Kobe residents. There are even single flowers with diameters of up to 20 cm. During the event, there are flower exhibits, picture exhibits, tea ceremonies (400 yen) and more.
Sightseeing Spots Around Sorakuen
Kobe City, where Sorakuen is located, has plenty of sightseeing spots. Many “ijinkan”, former homes of foreign residents, still remain standing in Kitano. A notable standout is the brick Weathercock House. Other spots include the Ikuta Shrine, near Sannomiya Station, as well as one of Japan’s three major Chinatown areas.
*Timetables and fare prices listed are all based on information from official sites. The data is current as of June 2017, but be aware that some items may change.
Previous experience as an editor at a women's media company in Japan. I lived in Australia for a while and joined MATCHA after returning to Japan. In charge of editing, promoting sponsored content, and creative direction. I love watching Western TV series.