Nestled in the heart of the city, Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden boasts 144 acres of land. This expansive park consists of three distinctive styled gardens: English Landscape Garden, French Formal Garden and Japanese Traditional Garden. Originated as the former residence of Naito Kiyonari during Edo era, then it was converted into the botanical park before being declared the property of the throne in 1906. During WWII it was drastically damaged by the firebombing raids, later was restored and opened to the public in 1949.
English Landscape Garden
With its spacious lawn lined with zelkova, tulip and other large trees, the British garden is a heaven for families. On a clear day children get active outdoors while grandmothers and grandfathers sit taking a break from the bustling city. Many lay their mats under the trees, enjoying lunch with friends. There is almost never a crowd even during cherry blossom season.
French Formal Garden
Entering the main gate, visitors can take a romantic stroll in this beautiful symmetrical garden planted with roses and rows of sycamores on both sides. The garden is especially beautiful in autumn when dozens of sycamore trees turn into bright yellow color providing a wonderful contrast with the bed of roses.
Japanese Traditional Garden
This lovely Japanese garden features large ponds dotted with arched wooden bridges and islands. Visitors are recommended to rest their feet and sample premium matcha green tea with Japanese traditional sweets at the tea house (Rakuu-Tei). Also located in this section, is Taiwan Pavilion, a Chinese styled building built in 1928 to commemorate the wedding of Emperor Showa. The reflection of the building with authentic Sino-architecture on a still pond with carps is a must see sight.
Other main facilities worth a visit include the greenhouse and the old imperial rest house situated on the west side of the management office. The greenhouse features tropical and subtropical zone plants including variety of orchids. This huge conservatory provides a warm and fun shelter during cold days and bad weather.
This elegant wooden rest house was originated in 1896 as a private lodging for the imperial family. During the latter half of Taisho era, the building was remodeled into a clubhouse. The wooden architecture of the site was designed using the Stick style, a popular late 19th century American architectural style. Currently, visitors are allowed to take a stroll inside the premises on scheduled days.
Among over 20,000 trees in this recreation area are some 1,500 cherry trees of about 75 varieties. There are numerous early and late blooming cheery trees which provide a prolonged sakura viewing season for those who miss the peak blooming season. During autumn, the tulip trees, sycamores, ginkgo trees and maples produce a riot of color. Tourists are encouraged to experience “Momiji-gari”, a Japanese tradition of going out to a scenic place cherishing the beautiful foliage, at this national park.
With other blooming flowers such as roses, the fresh greenery of spring and summer and the tranquil landscape of winter, the park offers visitors picturesque views all year round.
Only 10 minute walk from the south exist of Shinjuku Station on the Odakyu Line, you can reach this gorgeous metropolitan park; it’s worth giving this place a go even you’re on a brief Tokyo journey.
Hours: 9:00 am.-4:30 pm. (entry until 4:00 pm.)
Closed on Mondays or the following day if Monday is a national holiday.
No closing day during the peak cherry blossom season (March 25 to April 24) and the Chrysanthemum Exhibition (November 1 to November 15).
Fee: General 200 yen, Students (elementary and junior high school) 50 yen
For more information → Shinjuku Gyoen