Fukushen Gardens

Editor’s Note: Fukushen Garden was originally reviewed on Okinawa Hai on August 14, 2009; you can read a PDF copy of that original review HERE. The post below is an updated take on this attraction, published April 11, 2016.

CONTRIBUTED BY LOUISE DUPUY

Fukushen Gardens

Fukushen Gardens is a traditional Chinese garden located in the Kumemura area of Naha. Kumemura was synonymous with Chinese culture for centuries, acting as a hub for the Ryukyus, an apt place for such an attraction. It was built in 1992 in celebration of Naha’s appointment as a sister city to Fuzhou, China. It’s constructed almost entirely from materials originating from Fuzhou, and with the help of its artisans.

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Fukushen is traditional in design, completely walled off, with a large body of water running throughout, and adorned not only with opulent structures and statues, but Chinese flora also. You’ll find Koi carp and turtles residing within its waters, symbols of longevity and wisdom in Chinese folklore. For 100 yen, you can feed the Koi, a crafty bunch who know where and how to play the tourists!

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Enter through its East Gate, and be greeted almost instantly by a cascading waterfall on the opposite side. Atop this sits an observatory, great for getting a bird’s-eye view of the entire grounds. A lake spans out in front, filled with the aforementioned Koi and turtles. Meander round to the side of the waterfall, and take a stroll through its man-made cave. Wear sensible shoes and bring a flashlight, and tread carefully, it’s dark all times of day and very slippery.

 

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You aren’t short of features to admire. All the flora has little tags nearby, so you can see what species grows there. Keep exploring and you’ll find the Four Cardinal Gates of Direction: various statues cast in wood and stone.

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There’s also six sided pavilions, bridges (my favorite being the Zodiac bridge, featuring the 12 animals of the Chinese Zodiac), large Chinese vases encased in a wooden pavilion, and, if you’re lucky, a suspicious looking crane with his beady eyes planted firmly on the plump Koi!

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It’s serene and peaceful, you can almost forget you’re in a busy metropolis. Free admission adds to the attraction, and you can get information from the kind staff at the little information desk, as well as access the vending machines if all that walking around makes you thirsty. It’s open daily 0900-1800, except for special holidays. Lose yourself in an Oriental haven.

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Fukushen Gardens

Admission: Free

Phone: 81 98-951-3239

Address: 2 Chome-2-29 Kume, Naha, Okinawa Prefecture 900-0033, Japan

GPS Coordinates: 26.2167819, 127.6768022

Directions: Take 58 South towards Naha. You’ll pass Camp Kinser and as you approach downtown, look for Rte 42. Take a right there and go straight. You’ll be traveling opposite or away from Kokusai street direction. The Gardens are on your left. Look for 2 giant shiisa dogs in front. There is a park on the right side and a parking lot next to the park. Admission is free.

21 COMMENTS

  1. This Fukushu-En garden was originally posted in a previous Okinawa Hai article December 6, 2007 here:
    http://www.okinawahai.com/2007/12/fukushu-en-chin.html

    The hours are 9:00 am to 6:00 pm. Closed on Wednesdays. If a Japanese holiday falls on a Wednesday, the garden is open on the holiday and closed on the next day (Thursday) The hours in the original article are incorrect for closing at 4:00pm, it is open until 6:00pm.
    The original article lists entry fees however, this garden is now FREE but there is a booth at the entrance and the woman there may ask where you are from and how many people in your group since they keep track of the number of visitors. If she is not there, you should make sure to stop by while exiting to give that information to her.

    You can also check the driving directions listed above and in the 2007 article. Look for the small free parking lot for the garden in the adjacent Matsuyama Park (mostly shaded parking, too!) which is open the same hours as Fukushu-En garden. Do not park in this small lot unless going to the garden, and after visiting the garden you should move your car to another parking area if staying in the area. Occasionally the garden staff will check that small parking lot. There is another newer, larger parking area just past the first lot. That parking lot is open limited hours and may have limited use. As with all parking lots, make sure you secure your belongings in the car (do not let anything valuable or bags/purses/cameras, etc. in view) and check that it is locked.

    If you are walking around Naha City sightseeing and in the southern end of Kokusai Street near the Ryubo Department Store (Palette Kumoji) and the Okinawa Government Buildings, the gardens are only about a 10 minute walk away (500 meters). There is a wide divided street (though not clearly labeled, this is Route 42) in ‘front’ of Ryubo Store (where the outside stairs and large ‘stainless steel pipe clock’ are located). Walk west on this street towards the adjacent Yui Rail (monorail) Kencho-Mae station; away from Kokusai Street. Continue walking on this road under the station, across the Asato River and after a few blocks you will be at the intersection with Route 58. (This intersection, called Kumoji 久茂地, is the central point of the famous Naha Tug-of-War held each October. It is here at this intersection where the two ends of the massive rope are brought together and connected as part of the pre-tug festivities and rituals.) Cross over Route 58 and continue walking. After a few blocks, on the left side of the street you will see the white (but fading) concrete wall and then the entrance for the gardens.

    At the garden be careful when walking on the stone paths or climbing around on the stone tower with the waterfall. The steps and rocks can be very slippery when wet, either from the waterfall or rain.

    I have been to Fukushu-En garden often and at various times of the year; under the scorching summer sun, in the ‘cold’ (50’s degrees F) cloudy, grey days of winter, and even during a light rain. The gardens are extremely peaceful and calming anytime of year.

  2. It was totally free when we went yesterday, and the lady at the front just smiled as we walked in. Also a group of Japanese people followed in after us, and they didn’t pay either. It was gorgeous!

  3. We took our kids here as well and they loved it! Their ages are 4, 3, and newborn! I loved this place! Don’t forget your camera!

    • Yeah, we just went and its a really cool site to visit. My kids loved it and the entire family took lots of pictures.

  4. Hello, I am a civilian here visiting my girlfriend and her husband stationed on Kadena. We took a cab to the gardens this past wed, which was pretty expensive and found out they are closed on Wednesdays! I thought I would post this so no one else makes the same mistake. Thanks for all the reviews here…. it has been my number one resource!

  5. Absolutely beautiful gardens! Please remember to use insect repellant (the mosquitos were hungry) and carry something to wipe perspiration away so that your pictures will be beautiful. It can be very humid and hot inside the gardens in the summer months due to all the water inside and vegetation.You will certainly have PLENTY of places to take pictures inside the garden area. It is simply breathtaking! Please note that the initial posted directions are incorrect and need to be changed to show a LEFT turn onto route 42, and entrance to the gardens was free!

  6. Yep, right turn onto 42 after passing Camp Kinser, as Amanda points out. Also, the “lions” are Shisha (or shishi) dogs.

  7. We went to the gardens today and it is beautiful! Every idea you may have of what a Japanese/Chinese garden fulfilled. Take your time to see all the details and wander all the paths.
    A note on the directions though. It is a right turn at 42 if you are coming south on 58. Take a right (directly in front of the entrance to the gardens) just after the park on your right to reach the parking.

  8. I love the Fukushuen Gardens, too. I’ve taken portraits of people there…it’s a nice spot for photography. The few times I’ve been there, the lady at their front desk has always asked if I’m American, and then lets us in for free. So, I think it might be free for Americans. I’m not sure if locals have to pay or not.

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