Shinjuku Gyoen is one of the biggest public parks / gardens in Tokyo. The large spacious area is home to different styles of gardens, making for a great nature escapade in urban city Tokyo. One of the top cherry blossom viewing spots in Tokyo, it draws crowds of visitors in spring.
Table of Contents
- Introduction to Shinjuku Gyoen
- Discovering the Beauty of Shinjuku Gyoen
- Travel Access, Admission and More
- A Much Needed Escape from Reality
In this busy modern world, a moment of peaceful silence has become an underrated relief. Staying in highly-urbanized megacities like Tokyo, day-to-day activities can sometimes become suffocating, and even a quick respite from all of these becomes a necessity. The good thing is there is a perfect escape destination just within the city of Tokyo itself. This place is the Shinjuku Gyoen National Park .
Shinjuku Gyoen 新宿御苑, one of the largest and most beautiful parks in the capital city, is located west of downtown Tokyo. This gorgeous park comprises 58.3 hectares of landscaped garden filled with over 10,000 trees of various types including cherry blossoms. The park makes for a perfect spot to have a family picnic or just a relaxing morning or afternoon stroll.
※ Ministry of the Environment Government of Japan, "Outline"
Imperial Turned National Park
Tracing back the history of Shinjuku Gyoen, this area used to be part of a daimyo (feudal lord), Kiyonari Naito’s mansion estate. In 1906, it was redesigned and became the private garden to the Imperial Family who would entertain guests and hold hanami parties here. After World War II, and the reparation of damages from the war’s devastation, the park was reconditioned and reopened in 1949 as a National Garden for public use. Since then, Shinjuku Gyoen has been a favorite destination for both locals and tourists alike.
※ Ministry of the Environment, "History"
Shinjuku Gyoen’s Cultural Significance
The rich historical background of Shinjuku Gyoen makes it one of the most important gardens in the Meiji Era. In the present, Shinjuku Gyoen cultivates the historical and cultural significance of the place by conducting exhibits that promote the history and tradition of the place and the people who once resided there. One of these traditions is the making of chrysanthemum flower arrangements for the Japanese Imperial family. This wonderful tradition is a popular event during the autumn season.
Recognizable Garden Styles
Did you know that Shinjuku Gyoen is not only a SINGLE huge garden? Rather, the park is composed of THREE gardens built on the same grounds but are designed in unique separate styles:
Formal French Garden
The distinguishable element in the French garden is its symmetry. This formal garden is designed to replicate the popular symmetric structural designs in Europe. This is evident in the arrangement of the trees, flowers, and walkways. Some of the best features of the French garden are its collection of beautiful roses and breathtaking sycamore trees, lined perfectly along the walking paths, with benches to enjoy a chat or a good book.
Traditional Japanese Garden
The Japanese garden has everything you’d expect - wide ponds, traditional-style bridges and stone lanterns, complete with a teahouse. While the other two gardens will remind you of Europe, this is the quintessential garden for your travel photos that will remind you of the beauty and culture of where you currently are.
English Landscape Garden
This landscape garden is popular for its open and vast green lawn and is a perfect spot to lay down or have a picnic. The spacious area is surrounded by hundreds of flowering cherry blossom trees so in springtime, the English garden offers a great venue to be in awe of all of the pink and white hues.
Other Garden Highlights
Chrysanthemum Exhibition and Illumination
Regarded as the symbol of autumn and the royal flower of Japan, Shinjuku Gyoen holds an annual exhibition of chrysanthemum flower beds and arrangements for two weeks in November every year. There is a special night illumination as well that you should not miss. Fill your photo albums with pictures of these unique flower arrangements, or share the spectacular sight on social media.
Cherry Blossom Viewing
Shinjuku Gyoen has more than a thousand cherry blossom trees in a dozen varieties. In springtime when the flowers are in full bloom, the trees turn pink in color. Because of this spectacular sight, many travel review sites label the park as one of the best spots for hanami or cherry blossom viewing in Tokyo. We also have it on our Tokyo Cherry Blossom article:
Shinjuku Gyoen Greenhouse
Another marvelous facility in Shinjuku Gyoen is a massive glass structure that functions as a greenhouse. Originally built in the 19th century and rebuilt in 2012, the greenhouse grows and houses over 2,700 species of tropical, subtropical, and other species of plants from all over the world. The greenhouse also serves as a sanctuary for some exotic and endangered plant species.
※ The National Gardens Association, "Touch nature"
Food and Restaurants
Shinjuku Gyoen is a great picnic place, so visitors tend to bring their own food most of the time. If you haven’t brought your own food, however, there are cafes and restaurants within and nearby the park. Matcha green tea is available in the Japanese Garden while Cafe Hananoki and Starbucks are open for takeout. Aside from these, you may also visit some restaurants located less than a kilometer from the park such as Hamburg Will, and Burger Kitchen.
Shinjuku Gyoen has three entrance gates which are all within walking distance from nearby stations:
5 minutes walk from Shinjuku Gyoenmae Station and Shinjuku Sanchome Station
10 minutes walk from Shinjuku Station
15 minutes walk from Seibu Shinjuku Station
5 minutes walk from Shinjuku Gyoenmae Station
5 minutes walk from Sendagaya Station and National Stadium Station
10 minutes walk from Kitasando Station
※ Shinjuku Gyoen, "Traffic access" ※ Ministry of the Environment Government of Japan, "Access Map"
Opening Hours and Ticket Fees
Opens at 9:00, closing time differs depending on month / season.
Last entry is 30-mins before closing time.
- 16:30 for 10/1 ~ 14/3
- 18:00 for 15/3 ~ 30/6, 21/8 ~ 30/9
- 19:00 for 1/7 ~ 20/8
Green House Opening Hours
Opens at 9:30, closing time differs depending on month / season.
Closes 1-hour before closing time.
Closed on Mondays. If Monday is a public holiday, closed the next day as well.
Closed from 29 Dec ~ 3 Jan for Year End and New Years.
Special Open Everyday Period
- 25 Mar ~ 24 Apr
- 01 Nov ~ 15 Nov
500 yen (Adult)
※ Shinjuku Gyoen, "Visitor Information"
Touring around big cities with gigantic buildings and infrastructures can be astounding at first, but suffocating after a few days. When you start to feel this way, you will need a getaway. And if you are in Tokyo, the Shinjuku Gyoen National Park is the perfect place to go.
The beautiful gardens here are more than ready to give you the break that you deserve. And because of the diversity of the three gardens in Shinjuku Gyoen it is hard to pinpoint the best season to visit here. Every season has something to offer to its guests - rest assured that you will have an amazing time regardless of the season of your visit.