Japan

How to Visit Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden


Last updated on August 27, 2023 by Sophie Nadeau

Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden is one of the most magical green spaces in Tokyo, especially during cherry blossom season, when pink cherry blossoms are everywhere around the park. Note that Shinjuku is translated into English as New Inn, and Gyoen is translated as Imperial Garden.

Shinjuku Gyoen writes Shinjuku Gyoen.

How to Visit Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden

Located in western Tokyo, Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden is one of the largest and most popular parks in Tokyo. Just a stone’s throw from Shinjuku Station, the park features manicured flower beds, crystal-clear ponds, lawns for picnics, and even a huge greenhouse filled with tropical plants.

The garden was built during the Edo period (1603-1868) as the residence of the feudal lord Lord Naito. In 1903, it was converted into a botanical garden and came under the ownership of the royal family.

They then use that space as a retreat for their guests. Unfortunately, the garden was almost completely destroyed during World War II. They were eventually restored and rebuilt, and opened to the public as a park in 1949. Today, more than 20,000 trees are planted in the park.

The 2013 animated film “The Garden of Words” is set in the park.

Map of Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden
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Layout of Shinjuku Gyoen: 3 gardens

What is more interesting is that Shinjuku Gyoen is not a single garden, but has three types of gardens in a group of grounds. Japanese landscape gardens, French formal gardens, and English landscape gardens.

Each garden has its own atmosphere and decoration. For example, Japanese gardens feature manicured shrubs and trees that surround water. There are many bridges across the pond.

There are also several gazebos and other traditional features in the garden, including stone lanterns, and there’s even a Japanese tea house. During the first two weeks of November, the annual chrysanthemum exhibition is held.

Gazebo in Shinjuku Gyoen
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Meanwhile, the formal French garden showcases a fine example of the French landscape, with abundance of flowers (including June’s prettiest roses) and symmetrical design. There is even a sycamore walkway. French Formal gardens are often considered the most romantic gardens.

Last but not least, the English Garden has a vast lawn with a large number of cherry blossom trees. In autumn, this is one of the best places to enjoy red leaves in Shinjuku Gyoen. Another great place to see fall foliage is the Japanese Garden, where you can admire Momijiyama (“Maple Hill”).

greenhouse

Honestly, my personal favorite area of ​​the garden is the conservatory. The sprawling complex showcases tropical and subtropical flora and has plenty of meandering paths to meander through.

Plants in the Greenhouse of Chunsu Gyoen
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There are exotic plants, endangered plants, orchids, and even ponds and waterfalls. There are two different viewing levels, meaning you can admire this indoor jungle from many different angles. The greenhouse itself is divided into tropical, subtropical, pond and desert areas.

cherry blossom season

One of the best times of year to visit Shinjuku Gyoen is during the cherry blossom season, when you can enjoy the blossoms. There are more than 1,000 different trees, and you can picnic under the falling petals.

The greatest concentration is in the English section of the garden, where there are more than 400 Someiyoshino trees. If you do opt for a picnic, then you should be aware that alcohol is strictly prohibited on the grounds. Play equipment is also not permitted in the gardens.

There are several places on site to buy food and drinks (including a Starbucks), but the site is particularly crowded and you can expect to spend a long time queuing, so it’s best to pack your own picnic supplies.

cherry blossom season in tokyo
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How to Visit Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden

The gardens are closed on Mondays, except for cherry blossom season (end March/early April) and chrysanthemum season (early November). If Monday is a national holiday, the gardens will be open and closed the following day.

There are three entrances: Shinjuku Exit, Ohukou Exit, and Sendagaya Exit. The nearest stations are Shinjuku Station, Sendagaya Station or Shinjuku Gyoenmae Station. We personally feel that it is very convenient to walk from Shinjuku Station to Shinjuku Exit, and it only takes about ten minutes to walk.

Shinjuku Gyoen
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There is a fee to visit the gardens, but it is not too expensive and definitely worth it. If you want to visit during cherry blossom season, be sure to book in advance as tickets are limited and often sell out in advance.

It’s also worth noting that running is only allowed on certain trails (see official website), and that running in the gardens is not allowed at all during cherry blossom season (except for early opening hours). If you’re visiting Japan for the first time, be sure to check out our top Japan travel tips.

Pond at Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden
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