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The Best Landscaped Gardens in Tokyo

Tokyo is home to several immaculately kept and beautifully landscaped gardens. These are owned and maintained by the district wards, and each charge an entrance fee of a couple of hundred yen. Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden is the largest and most famous, but gardens like Koishikawa Korakuen and Rikugien make up for in beauty what they lack in size.

Hamarikyu Gardens

Central Tokyo > Chuo WardHamarikyu

Hamarikyu Gardens lie on land that was reclaimed in the late 17th century by Tokugawa Tsunashige. But it was his son, Ienobu, who renovated and landscaped the area into something closer to what we see today.

The stone house that once stood in the gardens was used to entertain foreign dignitaries before the completion of the Rokumeikan in 1883. Guests included Germany’s Crown Prince Friedrich III and U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant. Under the orders of the Allied Headquarters following the war, the grounds were donated to Tokyo City in 1945 and the following year the garden were opened to the public.

Access | Google Maps

1-1 Hamarikyuteien, Chuo-ku, Tokyo 104-0046 | 5 minutes from Shiodome Station (Toei Oedo Line) or 15 minutes from Shimbashi Station (take the Shiodome Exit and walk through the large underground walkway)

Opening Hours

9:00-17:00

Admission

¥300 | Primary school children and younger can enter for free

Koishikawa Korakuen Garden

Central Tokyo > Bunkyo Ward > Koishikawa Korakuen

Dating back to the early 17th century, Koishikawa Korakuen is one of Tokyo’s most spectacular gardens. Designed by Mito Yorifusa, a feudal lord, and completed by his successor, Mito Mitsukuni, the gardens were specifically designed to recreate famous Chinese scenes, Mitsukuni being a strong follower of Confucian ideas. Even the name, Korakuen (which translates as “enjoying afterwards garden”), is taking from the Chinese teaching that an emperor “should feel sorrow before his people do but feel enjoyment only after them”.

In 1952 the garden was designated a Special Historic Site and Place of Natural Beauty by the Cultural Assets Preservation Act and thus today stands protected alongside the likes of Itsukushima and Kyoto’s Kinkaku-ji.

The garden is popular all year round, but gets especially crowded in late November and early December when the leaves of the maple trees around the main pond turn red. The garden is otherwise extremely tranquil; however, if you happen to visit during the staging of a sports event at the nearby Tokyo Dome the din of the crowd will abruptly remind you that you are still in the center of the city.

Access | Google Maps

1-6-6 Koraku, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 112-0004 | A short walk from Iidabashi Station on the Toei Oedo Line (Exit C3)

Hours

9:00-17:00

Admission

¥300 | Primary school children and younger can enter for free

Kyu Shiba Rikyu Garden

Central Tokyo > Minato Ward > Kyu Shiba Rikyu Garden

Like Rikugien and Koishikawa Korakuen, Kyu Shiba Rikyu Garden was once a private garden of a high-ranking samurai official. Standing on land reclaimed from Tokyo Bay, high-rise mansions and office blocks now peer down on the pond and stone bridges of the garden which is regarded by some as the most beautiful in Tokyo. It was donated to Tokyo City in 1924.

Access | Google Maps

1 Kaigan, Minato-ku, Tokyo 105-0022 | A short walk from the North Exit of Hamamatsucho Station (Yamanote Line) or Daimon Station (Asakusa Line and Toei Oedo Line)

Hours

9:00-17:00

Admission

¥150 | Primary school children and younger can enter for free

Rikugien Garden: Traditional Japanese Beauty

Old Tokyo > Bunkyo Ward > Rikugien

In 1695 the fifth Tokugawa shogun, Tokugawa Tsunayoshi, gifted his chief counsel, Yanagisawa Yoshiyasu, almost nine hectares of flat land. With this gift Yoshiyasu moved earth to create a hill, dug a pond, and constructed paths to build a garden that expressed his love of poetry. It took Yoshiyasu seven years of toil to turn his imagination into reality and Rikugien, which translates as the “six tenets garden”, was born. The name comes from the “six tenets of poetry” written in the preface of the Kokin Wakashu (an anthology of waka poetry), and Yoshiyasu’s idea was to have scenes in the garden represent passages in the book.

The garden was used as a place of residence for the Yanagisawa family for the next 166 years, slowly becoming overgrown as the years passed. However, in 1868, the year of the Meiji Restoration, the land was purchased by the Iwasaki family—the founders of Mitsubishi—who restored the garden to its former glory and built the red brick wall that we see today around the circumference. The grounds were donated to Tokyo City in 1938 and subsequently opened to the public.

Unscathed by the Great Kanto earthquake of 1923 and untouched by the air raids of World War II, Rikugien stands today just as it was first imagined by Yoshiyasu over 300 years ago.

Annual Light-Up

In late March when the cherry trees blossom and again in November when the leaves turn red, Rikugien hosts an evening light-up—illuminations strategically placed around the garden to show the colors in all their natural glory. The popularity of the event means that you will have to queue for entrance to the garden, and then be shuffled along in a line once inside, but the sight of the colors at night is truly spectacular and a must for any nature-lover.

The main pond during the annual light up
Access | Google Maps

6 Honkomagome, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113-0021 | A 10-minute walk from Komagome Station on the Yamanote Line

Hours

9:00-17:00 (until 21:00 for the annual Light-Up)

Admission

¥300 | Free for primary school children and younger

Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden

Central Tokyo > Shinjuku Ward > Shinjuku > Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden

Originally the land of a family of feudal lords during the Edo period, Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden was opened to the public in 1949. Today it is probably Tokyo’s most famous garden and certainly one of the biggest, covering an area of almost 60 hectares.

  • Shinjuku Gyoen National Gardens

    Shinjuku Gyoen National Gardens

It contains three gardens (a traditional Japanese, a French formal, and an English landscape), as well as a greenhouse that has over 2,400 tropical species.

Shinjuku-Gyoen-Map
Access | Map | Google Maps

The garden has three entrances. The south-east Sendagaya gate is a 15-minute walk from the East Exit of JR Shinjuku Station or a 5-minute walk from Kokuritsu-Kyogijyo on the Toei Oedo Line (take Exit A5). The northwest Shinjuku gate is a 5-minute from either Shinjuku-3-Chome Station on the Toei Shinjuku Line (take Exit C5) or Shinjuku-Gyoen-Mae Station on the Marunouchi Line (take Exit 1). The northeast Okido gate is a 5-minute walk from Shinjuku-Gyoen-Mae Station on the Marunouchi Line (take Exit 2)

Hours

9:00-16:30. Closed on Mondays unless it is a public holiday in which case the garden is open on Monday and closed on Tuesday instead

Admission

Adults ¥200 | Junior high schools students ¥50 | Children can enter for free

Events & Festivals

Jul 01

Junk Show Tokyo

Saturday, Jul 1 - Sunday, Jul 2
Jul 06

Iriya Asagao Matsuri (Morning Glory Festival) 2017

Thursday, Jul 6 - Saturday, Jul 8
Jul 06

Shitamachi Tanabata Matsuri 2017

Thursday, Jul 6 - Monday, Jul 10

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