Japan, Japan 2016

Japan Extras: My Favourite Tokyo Gardens

Hamarikyu Gardens, Tokyo - marcelinesmith

I like to visit gardens wherever I go in the world and that goes double for Japan! Japanese gardens are always so beautiful, quiet and well-kept. The design is always a delight too, with so much thought given to views. They’re often designed around a lake and will have something new to see from every angle. Here’s my top 5 favourite gardens in Tokyo that I recommend you visit.

Shinjuku Gyoen, Tokyo - marcelinesmith

Shinjuku Gyoen, Tokyo - marcelinesmith

Shinjuku Gyoen

This is one of the easiest gardens to visit as it’s so central and it’s really beautiful too. For just ¥200 you can escape the madness of Shinjuku for this beautiful garden close to the station. While it’s great for a quick visit, it’s also a lot bigger than you’d think with different areas to explore. The ponds and lakes are very photogenic, especially with Shinjuku’s skyline in the background. Use the map to find areas based on different parts of the world and look out for exhibitions and events. I was lucky enough to visit during their Rose display with hundreds of perfect blooms in every colour. More information »

Hamarikyu Gardens, Tokyo - marcelinesmith

Hamarikyu Gardens, Tokyo - marcelinesmith

Hamarikyu Gardens

The is one of Japan’s most famous gardens but I only got there on my fourth trip.  It’s a stop on the Sumida River cruises from Asakusa and I definitely recommend combining the two as it’s a lovely journey with views of Sky Tree, Tsukiji fish market, Tokyo Tower and the Rainbow Bridge. Hamarikyu is squeezed in between the river and the Shiodome business district, which gives a lovely contrast. Wherever you look, there are modern skyscrapers looming over the traditional gardens and reflecting off the water. I also spotted more birds and wildlife here than other gardens, presumably because of its closeness to Tokyo Bay. More information »

Koishikawa Korakuen Gardens, Tokyo - marcelinesmith

Koishikawa Korakuen Gardens, Tokyo - marcelinesmith

Koishikawa Korakuen

This was a last minute choice that turned out to be a new favourite that I hope to revisit soon. It’s one of Japan’s oldest gardens and feels quite remote even though it’s close to the amusement park at Tokyo Dome. There’s a large area to explore surrounding a lake and my highlights were the just-blooming Iris field, Full Moon bridge and turtle-filled pond. It turned out to be the perfect place to relax in the sunshine with a book. More information »

Rikugien Gardens, Tokyo - marcelinesmith

Rikugien Gardens, Tokyo - marcelinesmith

Rikugien

Rikugien means means “six poems garden” and there are references to 88 scenes from famous poems. It’s quite a small garden but there’s something new to see every few steps with turtles, carp, stepping stones, bridges and much more. The view from the observatory point is especially lovely. If you’re visiting Tokyo in the late autumn, Rikugien is a prime viewing spot for red maple leaves with late night viewing events.  More information »

Meiji Shrine Gardens, Tokyo - marcelinesmith

Meiji Shrine Gardens, Tokyo - marcelinesmith

Meiji Shrine Inner Garden

While Meiji Shrine is a hugely popular sightseeing spot, most people miss the garden. That’s a mistake in my view as it’s well worth the small entry fee. Spring/Summer is the best time to visit in order to see the azaleas and Iris field but it’s nice any time with a big teahouse and a large pond with carp and turtles. It’s also famous for Kiyomasa’s Well, an ancient well with extremely clear water that is considered to be lucky to visit. There’s often a big queue to see it with a guard who will take your photo. More information »

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