The Shinjuku Gyoen Garden is one of the best gardens in Tokyo. The garden is so large (144 acres) that you can find your own little space to take a nap, a quiet little nook to read, watch families having a picnic, or even watch a group of teenagers practice front flips and playing random games. This is one of the most popular gardens in Tokyo, but you will never feel crowded, and is definitely a must on any trip to Tokyo.
Shinjuku Gyoen Garden is located right next to Shinjuku Station. The park does have an entrance fee of 200 yen (~$1.75), which is well worth it for this hidden gem in the middle of the city.
During the cherry blossom season, the views will take your breath away. The main cherry blossom season is from late March to Mid April. Fortunately, the park has multiple late blooming trees which will allow you to see them from mid-March to late April.
Shinjuku Gyoen has an interesting history. The garden began as a feudal lord’s residence during the Edo Period (1603 – 1867) until it was converted into a botanical gardens. The imperial family then took over the land for recreation and an entertainment area for guests in 1906. Unfortunately, the land was destroyed during World War II, but was rebuilt and opened in 1949 as a public park.
Shinjuku Garden Layout
Shinjuku Garden is comprised of three separate gardens: Japanese landscape garden, English landscape garden, and the French Garden. Also, there is a beautiful greenhouse which contains a wide variety of flowers from all over the world.
The Japanese landscape garden is my favorite as it has many ponds and well kept trees and shrubs strategically placed throughout. You will also see lots of bridges and tiny islands and sculptures throughout the garden which add to its beauty. Also, there are several pavilions in this area which have been used for weddings to Emperors in the past.
During the first two weeks of November you will see a chrysanthemum exhibit with enormous, beautiful displays throughout the garden. They will also add additional pavilions throughout the grounds during this time.
The French garden and English garden have much more open space. The French garden is very symmetrically arranged, where the English garden is lined by cherry trees with multiple wide open lawns.
If you arrive before 3:30 you can enter the greenhouse. I loved the greenhouse and all of the beautiful flowers it contained.
Shinjuku Garden also contains a restaurant, information center, and an art gallery.
When to Go
The garden is open from 9:00 to 16:30 (last entry at 16:00).
The garden is closed on Monday (or the following day if Monday is a national holiday) as well as from December 29 to January 3.
There are no closing days during the cherry blossom season (late March to late April) or during the Chrysanthemum Exhibition during the first two weeks of November.
Shinjuku Garden is beautiful and relaxing year round.
Although the cherry blossom season is relatively short, the garden has early and late blooming cheery blossoms. If you are in the Tokyo Mid-March to late April, you will likely see the beautiful cherry blossom trees.
The garden contains more than a dozen different varieties of cherry trees. This includes 400 somei yoshino trees in the English garden alone.This is why the English garden is one of the most popular spots during the cherry blossom festival.
If you miss the spring season, autumn will not disappoint. The change in the colors of the trees brings a completely different tone to the park. One of the most popular spots in autumn is Maple Mountain (Momijiyama), located on the eastern side of the park, which contains a large amount of gorgeous Maple trees.
You can also see maple trees change their colors in the Japanese gardens. This change usually occurs from Mid- November through Mid-December.
How to Get There
Shinjuku Gyoen Garden has three entrances/exits: Shinjuku Gate, Okido Gate, and Sendagaya gate.
Take the Marunouchi Subway Line to Shinjukugyoenmae Station. The Shinjuku and Okido Gate are about a 5 minute walk from the subway exit.
If you take the JR Shinjuku Station Line, you will have a ten minute walk from the “New South Exit”.
Lastly, if you take the JR Sendagaya Station on the local Chuo/Sobu Line you will have a 5 minute walk to the Sendagaya gate.
If you are traveling to Tokyo, make sure that you add this garden to your list of things to do. It was by far one of my favorite spots to go relax and escape from the hectic city. Also, just to make things better, the garden is only a 15 minute walk to the middle of Shinjuku for a fun night out after the park closes.
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