Hold on to your green tea as you gaze into the various layers of trees. This park offers a lot more than your typical green space!
In Niigata Prefecture’s Akasakayama Park, immerse yourself in natural serenity while enjoying thick, foamy Japanese green tea.
Kashiwazaki City, a seaside town known for its mackerel sandwiches and water polo team, is home to this action-packed park. The temperature is moderate due to its proximity to the Sea of Japan, and the trees flourish beautifully, making Akasakayama Park a Kashiwazaki emblem. The park is 13.7 hectares in size and located 1.5 kilometers west of the JR Kashiwazaki station. The main grassy area is fantastic for picnics and letting kids run around, but the Matsukumo Garden section is on a slope with a pond, making it ideal for a half-hour peaceful stroll.
In the spring, the park is alive with the blooming of hundreds of cherry blossom trees; in the autumn, the reddening of leaves aligns the park’s hills and transforms it into a living painting.
You may rest in the City Museum, which is located immediately inside the park, during any other season (when the trees are lush green or the entire site transforms into a winter wonderland). Exhibits on Kashiwazaki’s wildlife and people, as well as a planetarium, are open daily except Mondays. In addition, learn about the stories and history of Mt. Yoneyama, the area’s sacred peak!
The Kimura Tea Ceremony Art Museum
A significant location for the appreciation of Japanese green tea may be found in the heart of Akasakayama Park. Kimura Kankoan founded this museum in 1987 with the goal of displaying all of the Japanese tea ceremony equipment he has gathered over the course of his life.
Visitors can participate in a traditional tea ceremony that lasts 30-40 minutes at the museum. During the experience session, all of the national treasure paintings, flower arrangements, and tea bowls in the museum are discussed in depth in Japanese.
This program includes wagashi (Japanese sweets) and green tea tasting. The wagashi and rich green tea (albeit a little bitter) must, however, be consumed according to a set of rules. Also, expect to spend the entire tea ceremony sitting seiza — or kneeling on the floor with your buttocks resting on your heels.
Don’t get too worked up; the antique teacup you’re holding might only be worth a few million yen.
What You Should Know
Operation hours and fees
The Kimura Tea Ceremony Museum is open from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. every day except Monday. From December to March, it is also closed. It costs $1,000 for adults and 700 for visitors under the age of 18 to sample their rich green tea and Japanese sweet coupled with a traditional ceremony at the museum.
Language assistance and services
In Japan, the tea ceremony is performed in Japanese. English booklets, on the other hand, are provided with full information on the history, stages, and implements of the tea ceremony.
5-1 Akasakachō, Kashiwazaki-shi, Niigata-ken 945-0847, Japan
To get to JR Kashiwazaki station, use the Shinetsu main line and walk for around 20 minutes. The park is also accessible through a 10-minute bus ride.
Exit at Kashiwazaki or Yoneyama Interchange on the Hokuriku Expressway. It takes another 15 minutes from there.