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Find Serenity at Fukusyu-En Gardens

By: Wendy Hively

Date Posted: 2000-10-13

Are you feeling tired and stressed out? Take a trip to Fukusyu-En gardens and your worries will seem to melt away. Located just outside Naha City, the gardens are a relaxing change from the fast-paced city life that surrounds it. Enclosed by a white stone wall and guarded at the entrance by two large shi-shi dogs, the gardens are an oasis of plants, tropical flowers and waterfalls.

Traditional Japanese culture is evident throughout the gardens. Pillars carved into the shape of dragons, statues of animals that grace the stone bridges and twin towers that look like miniature temples are just a few examples. The covered walkways, buildings and gazebos were built in traditional Japanese architectural style with open-air rooms and red-tiled roofs that curve upward at the edges. The assortment of tropical flowers and plants that occupy the gardens is diverse. Bamboo trees, ficus trees, pine trees and lily pads are just a few of the species represented. All the plants and flowers are labeled with small wooden signs that list the scientific name in both English and Kanji. Some of the more familiar plants are easily recognized, but unless you’re a botanist, it may be difficult to tell what you’re looking at.

At the back of the park sits a beautiful waterfall that descends from a height of about 15 feet into the central pond below. A stone bridge allows you to cross over the pond just in front of the waterfall. Behind the waterfall is the entrance to a cave with dark, maze-like passages. Resting atop the waterfall is a large gazebo that overlooks the entire garden. A small set of stairs on the side of the cave allows access to the gazebo.

Throughout the gardens are vending machines that dispense small bags of food to feed the fish that inhabit the ponds. Each bag costs Y100 and contains only a small handful of pellets. Feeding the fish is quite an experience, especially for small children. The fish must recognize the familiar sound of the vending machines dispensing food because they rush to the edge of the pond for the feeding frenzy. There are so many fish in the water and there is such competition to get a bite of food that the fish flop on top of each other and splash water everywhere. The few turtles that share the pond with the fish are much more docile and tend to stay back from the action. The whole experience is quite amusing and your children will be begging for more food to throw into the water.

The gardens are located about 45 minutes south of Kadena Air Base. Drive south on Route 58 past Camp Kinser. As you begin to approach Naha, look for the signs for Route 42. Turn right at the stoplight onto Route 42. The gardens will be on the left side of the road behind a white stone wall, less than one mile from Route 58. There is no parking available on the road in front of the gardens. The best place to park is in a small parking lot just a few blocks from the gardens. To get to the parking lot after turning onto Route 42, turn left at the second stoplight (you will pass the gardens on the left). Make the immediate left after turning at the light. There will be signs directing you into a small parking lot on the left. An attendant will direct you to a parking space. The charge for parking is Y300 per hour.

The gardens are open from 9:00 to 6:00 pm. Tickets cost Y315 for adults and high school students and Y105 for junior high and middle school students. Children under six years of age are free.

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