A natural breather from the bustling Tokyo streets, Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden is the most famous garden in the city. This beautiful haven for nature lovers and travelers alike houses an extensive number of cherry, maple trees and much more. It’s a complex that holds smaller gardens with awe-inspiring ponds and bridges, but also large green terraces and a greenhouse. All of this makes it a scenic sanctuary that you must visit while in Japan. In the next few paragraphs, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about this gem in the heart of Tokyo. Spoiler alert: the relaxing wonders that this spacious garden has to offer are miles away from disappointing you.
The best time to visit
To witness the impressive backdrop of maple trees, visit the garden from November to December, where the changing Autumn foliage is downright enticing. Do you want another reason to go during this time? Well, there’s a Chrysanthemum Festival exhibit that takes place during the first half of November in the Japanese garden section. However, if you’re a fan of cherry blossoms, you should go during springtime (late March to early April). That’s the time of the year where the array of pink scenery is in full, vibrant display.
Now, the Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden winter landscape is also spectacular, with immaculate white snow complementing the setting very well. This might be quite the shock for some, but the garden actually stays as gorgeous as always, just in a different outfit. However, we don’t recommend it because the intense cold weather could be a little too much for you.
How to get there
Covering more than 50 hectares in the Shinjuku and Shibuya area, the garden has three different entrances. Just choose the entrance that’s closer to the train station you arrive at. The most used entrance is the Shinkugu Gate, which you can reach in around 10 minutes from the JR Shinjuku Station. The second entrance is the Okido Gate, which is situated near the Exit 2 of Shinjuku Gyoenmae Station. Last entrance option is the gate at Sendagaya, located in the northern portion of the garden. For easier access to the different entrances, make use of the maps.
Why visit the Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden?
1. Its rich history
Aside from its spectacular landscape filled with fascinating flora, the garden’s history is also of interest to every visitor. This garden has stood the test of time for several centuries, since it was constructed in the Edo era (17th-18th century). It belonged to Lord Naito, a local feudal lord, and then it was turned into an imperial garden in 1906. After WWII, it was repurposed as a national garden open to the people, becoming almost a national symbol.
2. Its three different gardens
As one of the largest gardens in Tokyo, the Shinjuku has three different gardens with unique landscape styles: Japanese, English and French. Whether you’re a fan of manicured plants and large ponds or forested lawns and architectural structures, you’ll love all of them. The oldest among the three gardens is the Japanese one, which highlights the large ponds styled with islands and bridges, pavilions, shrubs and trees. The English landscape, as well as the French style, features open lawns, lush groves, flowering cherry trees and structures, including an art gallery, greenhouse and restaurant. There’s also a traditional Japanese tea house within the garden grounds.
3. Its Scenic Recreational Area
The garden isn’t just the favorite spot for tourists and environmentalists, but also for some fitness enthusiasts. The walking paths are great for running, jogging or simply stretching your leg muscles. Just have in mind that you can only use the area from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Now, if you want to have a more laid-back activity, don’t worry because the garden is also a perfect retreat spot.
With around 2 US dollars, you can take a picturesque stroll around the gardens and even enjoy a soothing picnic under the trees. For this reason, it’d be advisable to buy a selection of easy-to-bring items like bento box and drinks before you enter the garden. As mentioned above, the garden is open from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. with allowed entry until 4:00. The Shinjuku Gyeon garden is not accessible during Monday holidays or the day after, except for the renowned cherry blossom season (from late March to late April). Just check their official website to confirm their opening dates and any other information you’d like to know.
Finally, the Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden is a must-visit destination in itself that anyone can enjoy. Its breathtaking beauty will surpass your expectations and will make your visit to Japan one hundred percent better.
Have you been to Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden? If so, share with us your most unforgettable experience there. Do you have any questions about this article? Share it with us in the comments section!