Updated: Feb 26, 2019
Daisen Park Japanese Garden (大仙公園 日本庭園) is located in Southern Osaka in the city of Sakai. This not-so-well-known beautiful Japanese strolling garden is nestled between Daisen Park and Daisen Kofun (tomb).
This type of garden is a Kaiyu-shiki style Japanese strolling garden. Technically it is a “Tsukiyama Rinsen Kaiyushiki” with “mountain” hills, waterfalls and a pond you can stroll around.
In ancient times the city of Sakai was thriving in importing and exporting between China and other Asian countries. This garden was designed to highlight the friendship that had developed and commemorate the 100-year municipal anniversary.
Daisen Park Japanese Garden is particularly relaxing and easy to make your way around the various paths. It is wheelchair accessible so you have no worries about difficult to walk areas.
The stroll garden in general is probably the most accessible and relatable Japanese garden for westerners. Many of them were large aristocratic gardens or private residences that have been converted to or semi-converted to public gardens.
In a way you could say that they are also the least “Japanese” of the various kinds of gardens, such as Zen rock gardens. They often have a Chinese influence dating back to the Tokugawa era when the Daimyo had to maintain the Daimyo Gardens of extravagant ponds, strolling paths, miniature scenes symbolizing famous Chinese places, and artificial hills (tsukiyama). Most of this holds true for Daisen Park, Osaka’s hidden Japanese strolling garden as well.
You start with by entering this beautiful Japanese gate where you can find a resting area inside that replicates a meeting room where wealthy Sakai merchants would gather. Sculpted Japanese pines that have been cloud pruned can be seen towering over the Japanese architecture.
Ingetsu Kyo and Eihan Kyo Bridges
These bridges connect an island and the pond, which represents the ocean with China off in the distance.
This artificial rolling mountain (tsukiyama) represents the famous spot, Rozan, in Jiangxi, China. This is the main feature you can see from teahouse in the center of the garden. The ground cover is interestingly a low growing bamboo thicket that stays green all year and prides a nice bright green look to it that provides a nice background for various Japanese maple trees in the foreground that come alive in autumn. Pruned hedges also nicely block the view of the strolling path that continues along the water, directly at the foot of the tsukiyama.
This is the highest point at Daisen Park Japanese garden to get a view of the strolling pond garden. Kasa mean 'umbrella' in Japanese so you can take a rest under the umbrella at the top of the hill and take in a view of the whole pond and teahouse across the water.
This Chinese-style pavilion with red framework and a blue roof is called Kansenden. It represents the symbol of a place that has refreshing and clean spring water nearby. Just up ahed, before you get tho the Tsukiyama Hill there is a large waterfall with beautifully placed boulders that splashes down.
The Ishizukei river is flowing down into the Chisen pond in the distance. The zig-zag Shunen bridge with Chinese-influenced orange railing sits under some beautiful weeping willow trees.
This zig-zag bridge at the higher level of the garden goes over water and leads you to an Azumaya gazeebo. Here you can have a seat and take in all of the different landscape and garden views. This area starts to blend into the exhibition and flower show area.
Daisen Park Japanese Garden features various flower shows, like Chrysanthemums (kiku-ningyo), Peonies (Botan), and bonsai exhibitions each year.
Because this garden is open to the public and the government now mostly maintains it so they push more events targeting the general public trying to create more of a community gathering spot more than other traditional Japanese gardens might. Due to limited assistance you can also see other areas where they may have opted for plantings that require less maintenance, such as the low bamboo ground cover on the tsukiyama hill or the weeping willow trees that require much less pruning compared to a Japanese maple or pine. This is common however among many “Friendship or Sister-City” Japanese gardens throughout the world.
That being said, I highly recommend visiting this garden anytime of year. There are beautiful cherry blossom trees in the larger general Daisen Park closer to the station and the autumn leaves (momiji) are also spectacular. Springtime comes alive with nice mound plantings of azaleas and rhododendron and winter is still nice to see the bold “mountain” hills and snow on top of the Japanese lanterns.
There are some Chinese influenced areas and colors that you typically do not see in Japanese gardens, so this is something to keep in mind. Usually traditional Japanese gardens stay closer to earth tones and rarely have bold colors. I see this Japanese strolling garden as more of a family fun garden to take someone to.
Give yourself time to enjoy this Japanese stroll garden and plan to spend about an hour to 1 ½ hours wandering and possibly getting some Japanese green tea and sweets in the main tea house building.
Parking is available and the park is wheelchair accessible
〒 590-0820 Daisen Park, Daisennakamachi, Sakai-ku, Sakai-shi, Osaka
15-minute walk from Mozu Station
Adults 200 yen, children (elementary and middle school students) ¥100, children under elementary school age enter free (with a guardian)
Tea is available in the tea house for 300 yen with wagashi Japanese sweets.
Daisen Park and Daisen-Ryo Kofun (The tomb of Emperor Nintoku)
Daisen Park is also right near the Japanese garden and is abeautiful open area with many cherry trees. This is a popular Hanami-cherry blossom viewing spot in springtime where 400 Somei-Yoshino and Oshima-Zakura cherry trees blossom. You can usually find people picnicking in the open lawn area called Shibafu-Hiroba and children playing in the Jido-no-Mori, or Children’s Forest. There is also a gourd-shaped pond called Dora-ike that you can stroll around near the Heiwa-To, Tower of Peace.
I hope I was able to convince you to take the time to visit this great Japanese Strolling Garden in Southern Osaka. Sakai city is an interesting old part of Osaka with a rich history that you should take some time to explore.
If you enjoyed learning about Daisen Park - Osaka's Hidden Japanese Strolling Garden and would like to see more gardens, get ideas for your own modern rustic garden, or check out an Illustrated Guide to Japanese Garden Design, please visit me at ShizenStyle.