I didn't quite believe my ragged old copy of Lonely Planet Japan when it said 'Even if you have spent months or years in Japan, Ritsurin is one of the places where it just hits you and you go - woah, I am REALLY in Japan'. Takamatsu, capital of Kanagawa prefecture in Shikoku, is pretty much off the tourist track - for Westernern, other East Asians and Japanese alike. Yet, the prefecture is in easy reach from the urban Kansai area (Osaka/Kyoto/Kobe) and home to many more sights - if you have some extra time, don't miss it!

prolific and giant koi!
On my last afternoon in Takamatsu, I had almost given the garden, which is a mile straight walk from the JR train station, a miss: it had been gloomy and raining all day, and after all, I had to do some souvenir shopping and make use of the free evening noodle snack and fancy Japanese bath my hotel offered (Takamatsu is also off the beaten path enough that it doesn't offer any budget accommodation except love hotels). But how can I resist the lure of Japanese classification, which calls it ones of Japan's 'Special Places of Scenic Beauty' (they sure know how to market stuff). So I gave it a go - while the garden was much smaller than I had expected (I am giving the garden a hard time, the parks I compare it to were London's Hyde Park of Osaka Castle Park, to be honest), even in slightly rainy weather is made for a nice stroll.

Ritsurin Garden was developed during the Edo period and was never of any great importance, which is why it apparently annoyed a lot of officials in Kyoto and Tokyo that is was so much nicer than their own gardens. 

 The pictures ended up being more scenic than my visit, though, as I had to keep finding somewhere to seek shelter from the rain!

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