Sorakuen garden is compared with an oasis of Kobe as the only traditional Japanese garden living in the city. As the time goes by, Sorakuen has kept unchanged in the middle of historical circle, staying elegant and splendid over a century. The garden was believed to be built around 1885 and taking about 6 years to be completed in 1911. Initially, Sorakuen was located inside a private residence of a successful merchant Taijiro Kodera known as the father of the former Kobe mayor Kenkichi Kodera. As their family’s own property, Sorakuen at that time used to be called the Kodera Residence or the Sotetsu Garden. The garden was donated to Kobe city n 1941 and opened to the public immediately after the transition with the current name of Sorakuen.
The garden reaches the area of about 20000 square meters, hugging the residence area of about 150 square meters by a standard structure of traditional Japanese garden of stone pathways running around a central pond with an observatory. Sorakuen is also painted by a little color of Western style which can be seen looming at the lawn space. The former Kodera Barn, Boat House, Hassam House and Tea Room Kanshintei are some historical attractions inside Sorakuen garden.
Actually, almost all establishments inside Sorakuen garden including the mansion and annex were devastated in the time of the World War II, there are only the Kodera Barn along with systems of walls and gates left standing. The former Kodera Barn was built in 1908 with a strange architecture of L shape, consisting of a garage for carriages and housing for stable workers. The Hassam House was constructed in 1902 as the property of an Indo-Bristish merchant and moved to Sorakuen in 1983. The Boat House is known as a cabin of the cruise boat for Himeji Castle lord made in the late 17th century. It is believed to be the very last Kawagozabune remaining alive in Japan. Nowadays, you can enjoy some art exhibitions as well as occasional events held inside.
Source: Sorakuen garden
Sorakuen garden is a secret corner of many little things. The starting point is the front gate which is made by zelkova wood with a crest describing a stylized bird's nest inside a hut. About 27 traditional stone lanterns lie scattered around the garden along with wash stone basins and different forms of Iyo blue and granite stones including a stone bridge, stone stairs and stone cave. Some cycad trees inside Sorakuen are believed to be over 300 years old, living peacefully with large camphor trees and pine trees. The white barked pine tree with needles of 5 to 10 centimeters is considered as the symbol of the garden. Outstanding in the green background of trees, azaleas blossoms of red, pink and white beautifully bloom in the time from April to June. Maples turning to red in late November is also a priceless lanscape of Sorakuen garden.
Take a 10 minute walk northwest from JR Motomachi Station or a 5 minute walk north from Kenchomae station.