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8 Japanese Gardens You Need to Visit in Tokyo for Every Season

Tokyo is a city of contrast hidden within the urban jungle are numerous ancient Japanese gardens to explore. Find peace within a Tokyo garden at any time of the year.
8 Japanese Gardens You Need to Visit in Tokyo for Every Season

There is more to Tokyo than meets the eye. Although skyscrapers and futuristic technology abound, the city also happens to hide a plethora of green spaces. 

Traditional Japanese gardens can be found dotted throughout this modern city. These Tokyo gardens are some of the finest botanical gardens in Japan. And each one offers visitors something special. Best of all, there is a Tokyo garden to enjoy at any time of the year.

You can stroll through the gorgeous landscape, pack a picnic lunch to savor on the grass, admire the cherry blossoms, and simply immerse yourself in the natural beauty of Japan. Plus, many gardens in Japan incorporate aspects of the local religions in the form of shrines and temples.

Finding yourself within the peaceful embrace of nature while in one of the largest cities in the world is a rather unique experience, to say the least.

So, regardless of what season you visit Tokyo, make sure to add one of these magical Japanese gardens to your itinerary:

What is a Japanese garden?

What is a Japanese garden?

A traditional Japanese garden is not simply a garden. It is considered a form of art. That is why each Japanese garden has its own unique style and layout. 

Japanese gardens are living artworks that change each season and evolve over the years. Many of the most remarkable Tokyo gardens were first created centuries ago during the early Edo period. Unfortunately, most were destroyed during wars but there are still some magnificent examples of traditional Japanese gardens that remain. 

Essentially, these gardens are artistically designed to create the most beautiful natural landscape.

What are the unique features of a Japanese garden?

What are the unique features of a Japanese garden?

Here are some of the most common elements and features used in Japanese gardens that make them unique:

• Water - can be used in the form of ponds, waterfalls, streams, or fountains to create a calming atmosphere that contributes to the expression of nature.

• Stones - are grouped together or in pairs to provide contrast and are used to anchor the garden to the ground while also adding personality to the environment.

• The lantern - is used as a guiding light for visitors to the gardens at night (especially during celebrations) but is also symbolic of the light of knowledge and the clearing of ignorance.

• Bridges - built from wood, stone, bamboo, or earth either in an arc or zig-zag shape, they are created as a point to linger and admire the beauty of the landscape.

• Carp - considered "living flowers" that are used to decorate ponds or other bodies of water and provide a flash of color to enjoy.

What plants and flowers are commonly found in a Japanese garden?

What plants and flowers are commonly found in a Japanese garden?

The plants and flowers found in Japanese gardens all have a purpose. Many plants or flowers are simply chosen for their beauty or symbolism offering the architects of these gardens a way to express joy or pain. 

Generally, plants are used sparingly in these gardens and chosen very carefully. But when the right plants or flowers are selected and combined with other Japanese garden elements, the effect is stunning.

Plants & flowers

• Japanese cherry blossom
• Buddha belly bamboo
• Japanese maple
• Serviceberry 
• Pine tree
• Japanese boxwood
• Japanese sedge
• Lotus
• Japanese quince
• Garden juniper
• Painted lady fern
• Iris
• Japanese cobra lily
• Chinese elm
• Horsetail
• Crabapple
• Japanese wisteria
• Black bamboo
• Rhododendron
• Sawara cypress

Best Tokyo gardens in spring (cherry blossom season) 

Spring is undoubtedly the best time to visit a Japanese garden if you want to be mesmerized by the beauty of the cherry blossoms. If you're visiting the city during cherry blossom season, you're in luck. There are a number of Tokyo gardens where you can witness this magical scene for yourself.

Head to either of these gardens if you're in Tokyo in the springtime:

Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden - imperial household turned Tokyo garden

Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden - imperial household turned Tokyo garden

Shinjuku Gyoen is considered one of the largest gardens in Tokyo. The space was originally used as a residence for the Naitō family in the Edo period. But it is now one of the most popular gardens in Japan. What makes Shinjuku Gyoen unique is that it is split into sections that are themed. For example, a manicured French garden, a British countryside landscape, and, of course, a traditional Japanese garden. Here you will find over 1500 cherry trees, making it one of the best places in Japan to see cherry blossoms in spring. Make sure to visit the tucked-away traditional tea house Rakutei for a tea ceremony and explore the greenhouses with their tropical plants too. You'll go for the cherry blossoms but discover a myriad of wandering paths and hidden elements to enjoy as well.

How to get to Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden: There are 3 gates to enter from. Shinjuku Gate is a ten-minute walk east of JR Shinjuku Station or a five-minute walk from Shinjukugyoenmae Station on the Marunouchi Subway Line. Okido Gate is also a five-minute walk from Shinjukugyoenmae Station on the Marunouchi Subway Line. 

• Address: 11 Naitomachi, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 160-0014 
• Opening Hours: Closed on Mondays unless it's a national holiday and then it's closed on the next weekday. 1 October - 14 March: 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM / 15 March - 30 September: 9:00 AM - 5:30 PM / 1 July - 20 August: 9:00 AM - 6:30 PM.
• Contact Details: +81-3-3350-0151

Hama-Rikyu Garden - a landscaped oasis in the city

Hama-Rikyu Garden - a landscaped oasis in the city

Tokyo is a city of contrast, where the old and new sit side by side. Nowhere is this more evident than in the Hama-Rikyu Garden, a picturesque landscaped garden located in the city's heart. The park dates back to the Edo period but remains a popular spot for locals and tourists. You can stroll along winding paths, cross over quaint bridges, and admire the lovely views of the nearby Sumida River. Water features consist of seawater ponds that actually change levels along with the tides. Hama-Rikyu Garden is uniquely situated with waterways on three sides. Therefore, you can access the garden via a Tokyo Water Bus and even tour the garden via boat. 

The garden is stunning in springtime when the cherry trees are in bloom. Delicate pink blossoms create a striking contrast with the green of the foliage, making it a truly unforgettable experience. During this time, the park is filled with people picnicking beneath the blossoms and enjoying the beautiful spring weather. It's a great way to escape the hustle and bustle of Tokyo and experience a bit of traditional Japanese culture. 

How to get to Hama-Rikyu Garden: The garden is a 7-minute walk from Shiodome Station if you take the Oedo Subway Line or Yurikamome Line. Alternatively, the garden is a stop if you take the Tokyo Cruise Ship waterbus.

• Address: 1-1 Hama Rikyu-teien, Chuo-ku, Tokyo 104-0046
• Opening hours: 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM daily with the last entry at 4:30 PM

Best Tokyo gardens in summer

Summers in much of Japan can be extremely hot and humid. So, if you find yourself in the concrete jungle of Tokyo, find some shelter from the hot sun by visiting a Tokyo garden.

Here are two Japanese gardens to explore in the summer:

Mukojima Hyakkaen Garden - where flowers bloom all year

Mukojima Hyakkaen Garden - where flowers bloom all year

Mukojima Hyakkaen may be the best garden to visit in the summer. But the word "hyakkaen" literally translates into "garden where a hundred flowers bloom four seasons of the year." The garden is filled with hundreds of species of flowers and you can find a bloom at just about any time of the year. With seasonal blooms, the garden has a dreamy ambiance and you'll feel like you're surrounded by nature despite being in the middle of Tokyo. The garden is over a century old and inside you'll find a clover tunnel that offers a magical experience. 

How to get to Mukojima Hyakkaen Garden: the entrance is an 8-minute walk from Higashi-mukojima Station on the Tobu Skytree Line or a 2-minute walk from Hyakkaen-mae bus stop on the Toei Bus Kameido-Nippori route 22.

• Address: 3-18-3 Higashimukojima, Sumida-ku, Tokyo 131-0032 
• Opening Hours: Open daily from 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM.
• Contact Details: +81-3-3611-8705

Tonogayato Gardens - a peaceful pocket of green

Tonogayato Gardens - a peaceful pocket of green

Tonogayato is a century-old garden located in Kokubunji. This peaceful pocket of greenery is rather unique as it was created on different levels and offers you a varied terrain to explore. Lush green plants grow wildly on steep slopes that border a central pond. There is a natural spring that feeds the pond. The vibrant green landscape of ferns, trees, and mossy rocks is complemented by flashes of color from the goldfish swimming within. Additionally, the botanical garden has a tea house where you can savor the local flavors in one of the most calming spots in the city.

How to get to Tonogayato Gardens: The entrance is just a 2-minute walk from Kokubunji Station on the JR Chuo Line.

• Address: 2-16 Minamicho, Kokubunji City, Tokyo 185-0021
• Opening Hours: Open daily from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM. The last entry is 30 minutes before closing.
• Contact Details: +81-42-324-7991

Best Tokyo gardens in fall 

If you love the red, yellow, and orange hues of autumn, then a visit to a Japanese garden in fall is a must. The colorful scenery of these Tokyo gardens when the leaves change color is mesmerizing. Plus, you'll be respecting the ancient tradition of autumn leaf viewing or "momiji."

Here are the best gardens to see the fall foliage:

Koishikawa Korakuen Garden - a large urban park

Koishikawa Korakuen Garden - a large urban park

Koishikawa Korakuen is one of the oldest Tokyo gardens. The garden was first established during the early Edo period (1600-1867) and was designed with both Chinese and Japanese influences. There is a network of connecting paths to meander along and take in all the different elements of this urban park. Although lovely throughout the year, this garden is particularly gorgeous during the fall. This is when the maple trees that surround the pond transform and the bright red and orange leaves create a striking reflection. The whole scene looks illuminated and the effect is simply breathtaking. Additionally, a peaceful grove of Ginko trees provides a soft yellow carpet of leaves in another part of the garden.

How to get to Koishikawa Korakuen Garden: The West Gate is a three-minute walk from Iidabashi Station on the Toei Oedo Line. The East Gate is a five-minute walk from Suidobashi Station on the JR Chuo Line. 

• Address: 1-6-6 Koraku, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 112-0004 
• Opening Hours: 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM daily.
• Contact Details: +81-3-3811-3015

Mejiro Garden - a picturesque city garden

Mejiro Garden - a picturesque city garden

If you're seeking something a little more hidden, then Mejiro garden is the destination for you. This strolling garden is quite hidden away within the city but still well worth visiting, especially in the fall. Just like most of the other gardens on our list, Mejiro is lovely at any time of the year. But truly magnificent and a special sight when the leaves change their colors. During the fall, the garden stays open for longer and is lit up for spectacular nighttime viewings. Inside is a small pond, a waterfall, a tea house, and a few shrines. 

How to get to Mejiro Garden: it's located in a residential area and only a 5-minute walk from JR Yamanote Line Mejiro Station.

• Address: 3-20-18 Mejiro, Toshima-ku, Tokyo 171-0031
• Opening Hours: 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM daily. 9:00 AM - 7:00 PM in July & August. 9:00 AM - 9:00 PM in November.
• Contact Details: +81-3-5996-4810

Best Tokyo gardens in winter

You may not think that winter is the best time to visit botanical gardens in Japan. However, there are a few Tokyo gardens that stand out from the rest and are worth your time; even in winter.

Here are two you should consider exploring if you're in Tokyo during the cold season:

Kiyosumi Gardens - a traditional strolling garden

Kiyosumi Gardens - a traditional strolling garden

Kiyosumi is a landscaped traditional strolling garden that is beautiful at any time of the year. Known for the many special stones that were sourced all over Japan, this Tokyo garden has lots for you to see. There are stepping stones across the pond and you catch glimpses of fish and turtles as you cross. The large pond also has three islands and one of them hosts a tea house-inspired restaurant. The evergreen trees and icy pond turns this garden into a winter wonderland during the cold season.

How to get to Kiyosumi Gardens: The garden is a three-minute walk south of Kiyosumi-Shirakawa Station. You can get there via the Hanzomon and Oedo Subway Lines.

• Address: 3-3-9 Kiyosumi, Koto-ku, Tokyo 135-0024 
• Opening Hours: 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM daily.
• Contact Details: +81-3-3641-5892

Kyu Shibarikyu Garden - a green oasis

Kyu Shibarikyu Garden - a green oasis

This green oasis surrounded by skyscrapers was built on land that was actually reclaimed from Tokyo Bay. In this park, you'll find the famous Sensui Pond which was inspired by a lake in China. There are two small islands in the pond that you can visit. Plus, there are a series of rolling hills that you can climb to give you some perspective. The extra height also helps to detract from the towering buildings around the park. Although the garden has something to offer visitors at any time of the year, the apricot trees that flower in winter make it a great destination when it's colder.

How to get to Kyu Shibarikyu Garden: it is located next to Hamamatsucho Station - a five-minute walk south of Tokyo Station by JR Yamanote Line. 

• Address: 1-4-1 Kaigan, Minato-ku, Tokyo 105-0022 
• Opening Hours: 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM daily.
• Contact Details: +81-3-3434-4029

Immerse yourself in nature

If you're ready to immerse yourself in nature while in one of the biggest cities in the world, then you need to plan a trip to Tokyo. Regardless of which season you visit, you'll find a stunning Japanese garden to explore. There is something to delight you around every corner in Tokyo; especially if you seek the peaceful embrace of a Tokyo garden. Book your trip today with JAL Japan Explorer Pass.

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