Tokyo’s Best Japanese Gardens & Parks

With the approaching heat wave in the coming summer months it might be only logical to yearn for some shade and cool breeze. Thankfully Tokyo is dotted with gorgeous Japanese Gardens and sprawling parks which provide a relaxing pockets of calm amidst the hustle and bustle of the metropolis. Here, you can take respite by the pond or a fountain while people-watching, sipping on a refreshing drink or devouring that scrumptious bento box from depachika. What I love about parks in Tokyo is that many are extremely well managed with seasonal plants selected to ensure that something is blooming no matter which season you visit. I put together the list of Tokyo’s Best Japanese Gardens and Parks to help you plan your visit. tokyos-best-gardens-1Imperial Palace East Gardens

While visiting the Imperial Palace is not allowed to general public, you should definitely take a stroll in its meticulously maintained garden which contrasts beautifully with the high-rises of modern financial district of Marunochi. The garden features a wide soft grass lawn where visitors can bask in its spaciousness. My favorite spot in the garden is by the beautiful pond with its manicured Japanese garden. tokyos-best-gardens-3tokyos-best-gardens-4best-gardens-in-tokyo-1 (2)Address: 1-1 Chiyoda, Tokyo 100-8111
Entrance fee: free

Koishikawa Koraguen

Being one of the oldest parks in the city Koishikawa Koraguen is definitely one of my favorite spots in Tokyo. Due to its comparably compact size it has a feeling of coziness and intimacy. The garden is filled with so many interesting corners and features like two ancient bridges, gorgeous pond and island. The place is particularly vibrant in fall (last week of November) when the trees burst into bright colors. You can also have a matcha tea at a traditional Japanese tea house while admiring the beautiful scenery. best-gardens-in-tokyo-9 (2)best-gardens-in-tokyo-17Address: 1-6-6 Koraku, Bunkyo, Tokyo 112-0004
Entrance fee: 300 YEN

Rikugi-en Garden

Located off the beaten path on the outskirts of Tokyo (close to the metro station!) Rikugi-en is definitely a gem in Tokyo. The garden was founded in 1695 that recreates 88 scenes from classic Japanese poems. You will enjoy a central pond with brilliantly designed gardens surrounding it. The garden becomes especially popular during spring and fall. Not only are the trees strikingly vibrant during daytime, the garden also organizes night light-ups for you to view the cherry blossom/foliage at night. I am looking forward to fall so that I can see it this November. Make sure to stop by a tiny tea house on the shore of the pond to enjoy a nice matcha tea with wagashi. During summer months they serve it with ice. tokyos-best-gardens-16tokyos-best-gardens-17tokyos-best-gardens-14tokyos-best-gardens-15tokyos-best-gardens-13tokyos-best-gardens-12Address: 6 Chome Honkomagome, Bunkyo, Tokyo 113-0021
Entrance fee: 300 YEN

Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden

Shinjuku is more like a botanical garden featuring so many stunning trees and flowers that bloom at different seasons making it an interesting place to visit any season. You will be able to enjoy the largest traditional Japanese garden in Tokyo, a Taiwanese Pavilion, a greenhouse, a French rose garden, rivers, ponds and more. My breath was taken away when I saw Shinjuku during springtime, with endless rows of cherry trees. yaezakura-cherry-blossom-46yaezakura-cherry-blossom-13best-gardens-in-tokyo-5yaezakura-cherry-blossom-19best-gardens-in-tokyo-1 (2)Address: 11 Naitomachi, Shinjuku, Tokyo 160-0014
Entrance fee: 300 YEN

Hamarikyu Garden

What sets this park apart from others is that Tokyo Bay borders one side of the oblong garden. You can have a relaxing stroll along the water whilst still in the park, catch the breeze and look out upon the bay. Compared to other gardens the vegetation here is not as dense, and the area around the lakes are minimalistic with wide green lawns and winding pine trees. The park is located quite off the beaten track (below Tsukiji Fish Market) and a 15- to 20-minute walking distance away from the nearest metro station. I personally would not recommend going here on your first visit to Tokyo as there are more striking centrally located gardens. tokyos-best-gardens-8tokyos-best-gardens-9tokyos-best-gardens-6Address: 1-1 Hamarikyuteien, Chuo, Tokyo 104-0046
Entrance fee: 300 YEN

Yoyogi Park

Yoyogi reminds me of Central Park in New York City with its lively atmosphere. Tokyoites come here to picnic, jog, play frisbee or throw a Cosplay parties. It is also a popular hanami spots during cherry blossom season when the park gets seriously packed, especially around its ponds. The place is adjacent to serene and majestic Meiji Shrine, which is a must visit in Tokyo. The park also hosts antique markets as well as international festivals almost every weekend, anything from Thai, Vietnamese or Spanish festival with numerous food stalls and some concerts. cherry-blossom-tokyo-51cherry-blossom-tokyo-37

Address: 2-1 Yoyogikamizonocho, Shibuya, Tokyo 151-0052
Entrance fee: free

Ueno Park

Unlike other parks above, Ueno will not impress you with its manicured gardens. However, you will find lots to explore: a shrine, a temple, over ten museums and institutions, a batting field, a zoo (don’t miss pandas!), several cafés, a five story pagoda and much more of what I was not able to explore. It is particularly entertaining place if you are traveling with kids as it also features a few playgrounds.

Address: 〒110-0007 Tokyo, Taito, 上野公園・池之端三丁目
Entrance fee: free

Inokashira Park

Inokashira is one of the two parks I still haven’t been to and definitely have it on my list. It is located in hip and trendy Kichijoji neighborhood which offers great restaurants and shopping on top of a very nice spacious park. I am particularly drawn by the pond with cute swan paddleboats and Studio Ghibli museum. cherry-blossom-tokyo-34Address: 〒180−0005 Tokyo, Musashino, 御殿山1-18-31
Entrance fee: free

Hitachi Seaside Park

This is another park I have marked down for my fall adventures, although covering an area of 190 hectares, the park features blooming flowers around the year, including tulip fields, baby blue eyes, and red bushes of bassia scoparia – making it attractive any times of the year. The only caveat is that the park is located outside Tokyo. To get there take the Limited Express called Super Hitachi which runs every 30 minutes starting 7 AM. The ride takes ~90 minutes to Katsuta. At Katsuta Station, go out of East Exit and take Ibaraki Kotsu bus at bus stop #2 to the park.

Address: 〒312-0012 Ibaraki Prefecture, Hitachinaka, Mawatari, 605
Entrance fee: 410 YEN

Have you been to any of Tokyo’s parks? Which one was your favorite? 

xoxo, nano

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  1. The Japanese gardens were one of the most special and most memorable parts of our trip there. I’m not even a garden person particularly normally but in Japan, that totally changed and they totally took my breath away. It’s funny how everyone has their own personal favourites and likes though as Hamarikyu turned out to be one of my favourite ones! I also loved Shinjuku Gyoen and if we had more time, would have loved to have visited Yoyogi especially during one of the weekend festivals :) Amazing colourful photos as always Nano!

    1. I agree Shikha, Japanese gardens are truly captivating. Honestly, I should give Hamarikyu a second chance because there was hardly anything blooming when I visited (not counting iris) and I bet it is more striking during other times of the year. Either way, so true, we all find our little serene corners in Tokyo which feels so special to our heart. All of them are individually striking :)

  2. I would absolutely LOVE to head back to Japan when all of the flowers are blooming in the gardens… your photos are so beautiful and giving me enormous travel envy!! :)

  3. Love Japanese gardens. If I ever get to Japan I’ll be tempted to spend a lot of time in gardens. Thanks for the list and pics.

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