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Parks and Gardens in Tokyo

Parks and Gardens in Tokyo
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There are two basic types of Japanese garden. These are “Tsukiyama” and “Karesansui”. In Tsukiyama, small hills and stones represent mountains and the pond represents the sea. In “Karesansui” white sand symbolizes the sea, and the stones represent hills.

Shinjuku Gyoen (near Shinjuku)

Shinjku Park

Shinjku Park

Shinjuku Gyoen is regarded as being one of the most important gardens in Japan. Established on the site of an old Edo Era mansion house in 1906 (Meiji Era), it incorporates examples of Japanese, French and English landscaping. From the French garden there’s a virtually uninterrupted view of Tokyo Tower. In the Japanese garden you can take part in the tea ceremony (700 yen).

There are over seventy five different species of cherry tree inside. In summer it’s famous for hydrangeas, and in November, chrysanthemums. The green houses are open 11:00 am to 03:00 pm.

Hours

Open: 09:00 to 16:00. Tuesday to Sunday.
Closed: Mondays (or the following day if this is a national holiday). December 29th to January 3rd.

Admission

Adults 200 yen, under 15’s, 50 yen

How to get there

Nearest Station: Shinjuku Gyoen Mae Station on the Marunouchi Subway Line or Sendagaya Station on the JR Sobu (local) Line.

Further information:

Website: http://www.env.go.jp/garden/shinjukugyoen/english/

Hama-Rikyu Sunken Garden (near Ginza)

Fairly wild and woody in places, the most interesting feature of the Hama-Rikyu Sunken Garden is that it contains a salt-water pond. With the pattern of tides in Tokyo Bay the water in the pond rises and falls throughout the day. As a result, the landscape of the garden constantly changes.

In the 17th century (Edo era) the garden was an official duck hunting ground. Duck hunting continued until 1944.

In spring, rape blossoms turn the garden a rich yellow. It’s also known for its peonies that flower in late April and a three hundred-year-old pine tree.

Hours

Open: 09:00am – 05:00pm everyday
Closed: December 29th – January 3rd

Admission

300 yen (Over 65’s, under 12’s are free).

How to get there

Take the JR Yamanote Line to Shimbashi Station. Leave via the Ginza exit and walk down Sotobori Dori Avenue in the direction of Ueno and Senju (as indicated by the road sign). Keep going until you see the Shuto Expressway. Follow the direction of the Shuto Expressway as it sweeps to the right and then look out for signposts. (10 to 15 minutes walk).

Higashi Gyoen – The East Gardens of the Imperial Palance (near to the Imperial Palace, Tokyo Station, Hibiya Park, Ginza, and Yasukuni Shrine)

The East Gardens of the Imperial Palace mark the former site of Edo Castle. Today, two guardhouses, a keep and a defense house are still standing. The other buildings were destroyed by a number of fires that occurred between the 17th and 19th centuries.

Inside the gardens, a guide book and map are available from the shop. There’s also a small museum housing Emperor Showa’s art collection.

Hours

Open: 09:00am to 04:30 pm (but subject to times of the year)

Closed: Mondays, Fridays (except public holidays). December 25th to January 23rd.

Admission

Free

How to get there

Leave Tokyo Station via the Marunouchi exit and follow the signposts to the Imperial Palace Plaza. Next walk towards the Palace Hotel. You’ll then find the entrance through Ote-mon Gate.

Hibiya Koen

Hibiya Park, near Ginza is a popular place for workers to relax during their lunch break. Up until the Edo period it was the placae site of the feudal lord, Matusdaira Bizennokami.

Hibiya Park

Hibiya Park

The park hosts a variety of Japanese and International festivals almost every weekend. There is even an amphitheater for small live concerts.

How to get there

The park is a 2-minute walk from Kasumigaseki station (Marunouchi Subway Line, Chiyoda Subway Line) or an 8-minute walk from Yurakucho (JR) station.

Entrance is free and open year round.

Kyu-Shiba-rikyu Garden

This garden is another classic pond centered Japanese garden. The garden dates from the Edo period. During the Great Kanto earthquake in 1923, fires destroyed the entire garden. The garden was restored the following year to commemorate the beginning of the Showa Emperor.

kyu-shiba-rikyu-garden

The garden is nestled alongside the Shinkansen line and surrounded by the office towers of Hamamatsu-cho and Shinbashi.

Hours

Open: 09:00am to 04:30 pm

Admission

150 yen

How to get there

Just 1 minute walk from Hamamatsucho station – north exit.

Rikugien Garden (Near to Ikebukuro and Kyu Furukawa Garden)

This garden is a typical “kai-yu” (“walk-around”) style garden. The thirty and sixty minute walking courses will take you round the pond, up Mount Fujishiro which is a miniature mountain, past Garyuseki Rock which represents a dragon, and past Horai-jima island which is shaped like a turtle. The garden dates back to 1695; it took 7 years to build and throughout history it has been described in many Japanese “waka” (31 syllable) poems.

Hours

09:00 am to 05:00pm everyday. Closed: December 29th – January 3rd

Admission

300 yen (Over 65’s, under 12’s are free).

How to get there

Take the JR Yamanote Line to JR Komagome Station. Leave the station via the south exit. Walk down Hongo Dori Avenue in the direction of “Bunkyo Ku” (as indicated by the road signs). You’ll then see a signpost indicating the garden. (About a 7 minute walk).

Kyu Furukawa Garden (near to the Rikugien Garden and Ikebukuro)

Incongruous it may be, but the main feature of the Kyu Furukawa Garden is an English style manor house, complete with tea room! There’s also a rose garden and a maze. The garden was completed in 1912.

Hours

Open: 09:00 am to 05:00 pm (admission until 4:30 pm) everyday

Closed: December 29th – January 3rd

Admission

150 yen (over 65’s and under 12’s are free).

How to get there

Take the JR Yamanote Line to JR Komogome Station. Leave the station via the south exit and then walk down Hongo Dori Avenue in the opposite direction from the road sign that says “Bunkyo Ku”. (About a 12 minute walk).

Meiji Jingu Garden (Near the Meiji Jingu Shrine, the Meiji Jingu Treasure Museum, Yoyogi Park and Harajuku)

Emperor Meiji designed the iris garden for his wife Empress Shoken; the pond was one of his favorite places to fish.

The irises bloom in June.

The Meiju Jingu Gardens are situated in the grounds of the Meiji Jingu Shrine.

Hours

09:00 to 04:30 pm everyday

Admission

Adults 500 yen, Children 200 yen

How to get there

From the main exit of Harajuku Station (JR Yamanote Line), head towards the pedestrian footbridge. Once at the footbridge veer round to the right, then in the trees you should be able to see the entrance to the shrine.

Parks

Yoyogi Park (Near to Harajuku and the Meiji shrine)

In 1964 Yoyogi Park was the site of the Olympic Village. Today, when it comes alive with street performers, it’s the atmosphere on a Sunday which gives the park its name.

Hours

Open: 05:00am – 08:00pm May 1st to October 15th
05:00am – 05:00pm October 26th – April 30th

Closed: Mondays (or Tuesdays if Monday was a public holiday). December 29th to January 3rd.

How to get there

Take the JR Yamanote Line to Harajuku Station. Leave the station via the main exit, walk towards the pedestrian footbridge and then veer round to the right. Keep walking and when you reach the next pedestrian footbridge you’ll see the entrance.

Ueno Koen Park (near Ueno)

As the largest park in Tokyo, inside Ueno Park you’ll find temples, shrines and pagodas, a zoo and some of Japan’s finest museums and galleries. It’s also famous for cherry trees and lotuses. The lotuses cover the pond and flower in the summer, the cherry blossoms come out in spring (late march/early April).

How to get there

Leave JR Ueno Station via the Ueno Koen Exit.

Hibiya Koen Park (Near to the imperial Palace and Ginza)

Built on land that was once a military drill ground, Hibiya Park was Japan’s first western style park. Today, by western standards, it’s nothing special. It’s been rebuilt twice – once after the 1923 earthquake and again after World War II during which time it was turned into a vegetable patch.

How to get there

Leave JR Tokyo Station via the Marunouchi Exit. Alternatively from the Sukiyabashi Exit of Ginza Station, walk in a westerly direction towards Hibiya.

Shiba Koen (near Tokyo Tower)

Scrubby is the best way to describe Shiba Koen. But for that reason alone, you may think it’s worth a look.

How to get there

Take the Hibiya Subway Line to Kamiyacho Station.

Shinjuku Chuo Park (near the Tokyo Metropolitan Building in Shinjuku)

Often the site of a make-shift shanty town, Shinjuku Chuo Park is where many of Tokyo’s homeless people live.

How to get there

Leave Shinjuku Station via the West Exit. Follow the signs to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building; the park is then just opposite.

Where is your favorite park in Tokyo? Let us know in the comments.

About 

Mike has lived in Tokyo for more than 10 years and loves sharing his knowledge about Japan's metropolis.

 

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