Gardens around Japan vary widely. Even in Tokyo there are some great open spaces and some not so great. One of my favorites is Shinjuku Gyoen (Y200 entry fee) and I am working on completing visits in all seasons. The most recent being late autumn - a few nice autumn leaves, but many leaves already on the ground and a restful place to stroll or simple watch the world go by.
Shinjuku Gyoen does have one of the best greenhouses that I have visited, both for its construction/architecture and specimens. Including the mix of different spaces - wooded areas, grassy lawns and more traditional Japanese garden constructions (ponds with small islands) there is enough to occupy several hours without too much effort.
Access is good - an easy route is from the Maranouchi line station Shinjukigoyenmae and walking around near the perimiter of the park before exiting at the Shinjuku gate, but there are many possibilities, so anyone can choose their own path.
Shinjuku Gyoen, located just five or ten minutes from Shinjuku Station, Shinjuku Gyoen Mae Station, Sendagaya Station by foot, is one of the city's premier public parks. Historically this land belonged to Kiyonari Naito, a vassal of the great Ieyasu Tokugawa, who founded Edo Castle. Generations later, Naito's family could no longer afford the mansion and grounds in Tokyo, so it was eventually given back to the Japanese government. In 1872, the government established the Naito Shinjuku Experimental Station, which was an area to test new agricultural techniques and technologies. In 1879, the gardens became the Shinjuku Imperial Botanical Garden, under the control of the Imperial Household. In 1926 Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden was completed, and it is similar to today's garden despite much damage in 1945 during World War II.
I was lucky to visit on a weekday morning in the heart of sakura (cherry blossom) season in 2015. Despite the early hour and our Tuesday arrival, the lines to enter were long (but fast), and the inside of the garden was full of people. We walked throught the gardens from the Shinjuku gate to the Sendagaya gate, spending about an hour and a half strolling through the woods and open fields, covering such areas as the Mother and Child's Forest, the Japanese Traditional Garden, the Taiwan pavilion, Azalea Hill and the Cherry Area. The cherry blossoms were fantastic!
The park is open daily from 9am to 4pm (closed Mondays), and admission is just 200 Yen for adults. Alcohol and pets are prohibited in the park.
Shinjuku National Garden was completed in 1906 as an imperial garden. It is a beautiful landscaped garden of 150 acres of land. The highlights of the garden are the Kyu-Goryo-Tei (Taiwan Pavilion), Rose Garden, Japanese Traditional Garden, French Formal Garden, Avenue of Plane Trees, English Landscape Garden, Greenhouse housed here.
The entrance fee is 200Yen and you can make payment at the three gates at Shinjuku, Sendagya and Okido Gate.
To get to the garden, take the Marunouchi line to Shijuku-gyoenmae station and walk about 5mins. The Toei Shinjuku line and JR Shinjuku station will lead you to Shinjuku entrance.
We took the JR train to Sendagya Station and took a short walk to Sendagya Gate. Take a 5 mins walk from Toei Oed Line Kokuritsu-kyogijo station and you will reach Sendagya gate.
The Shinjuku-gyoenmae station will lead you to the Okido gate.
We brought our lunch to the park for a picnic. You must beware of the cats and birds who will jump at you or fly pass you to snatch your food from you. It was a nice stroll along the park with impressive landscaped of the beautiful garden. It is a very peaceful place where you can find refuge in the busy Shinjuku.
Opens Tue to Sun from 9am to 4:30pm (closed on Mondays)
Originally an imperial garden, now a national park, it comprises of both Japanese & European styles. It's an ideal break from the busy city streets, just take an hour or so to stroll through.
There are places to sit & relax, also small cafes throughout the park.
There is an admission fee to the park, it was 200 yen when I visited in May 2007.
This was a stunning experience with all the different varieties of cherry trees in full blossom. Incredibly beautiful! The garden is run by the Ministry of the environment now but it has a long history dating back to the beginning of the Edo period. It used to be Botanical Garden, then Imperial Garden and then, finally, it was opened to public in 1949. It has three distinctive styles: English landscape garden, French formal garden and Japanese traditional garden. There are also greenhouses.
Open fom 9 to 4, greenhouse from 11 to 3.
Admission: 200 yen for adults
It's just a 10-minute walk from JR Shinjuku Station (south exit). It's open from 9am to 4:30pm but gate will be closed at 4pm. Admission fee is JPY200 per adult but worth a visit, especially in spring and autumn.
Shinjuku Gyoen was constructed on the site of a private mansion belonging to Lord Naito, a "daimyo"(feudal lord) of the Edo era. Completed in 1906 as an imperial garden, it was re-designated as a national garden after World War 2 and opened to the public.
58.3 hectares(144 acres) in size and with a circumference of 3.5 km, it blends three distinct styles, French Formal, English Landscape and Japanese Traditional, and is considered to be one of the most important gardens from the Meiji era.
Among the 20000 trees which grow in Shinjuku Gyoen are the first examples planted in Japan of such species as tulip trees, planes, Himalayan cedars and bald cypresses, whose distinctive crown shapes give the garden a solemn and dignified atmosphere.
Shinjuku Gyoen is a huge park, walkable from JR Shinjuku station. In early April it is absolutely breathtaking with all sorts of blossoms. Entry was cheap (200 yen) and a map of the park marked with where all the blossoms are is provided. The locals seem to enjoy hanging out here, with some older people drawing and painting the blossoms. It is absolutely romantic and beautiful.
Last visited: April 2003.
Shinjuku Gyoen was constructed in 1906 as an imperial garden, It was re-designated as a national garden after World War 2nd and opened to the public. it blends theree distinct styles, French Formal, English Landscape and Japanese Traditional, and is considered to be one of the most important gardens from the Meiji era.
Tea and sweet cakes are served in a pavilion. Open 9:00-16:00 except Mon (but open Mon at cherry and chrysanthemum time) and late Dec-early Jan. Admission
Tokyo has some of the most beautiful parks and gardens I have ever seen, but Shinjuku Imperial Garden is hard to beat.
I have been there in spring on a freezing cold day when we strolled passed the lakes with cherry blossom petals raining down on our heads. It was also stunning in April with its stunning azalea bushes.
The park also has a series of hothouses perfect on a freezing cold winter or spring day.
We were in Tokyo during the peak of Cherry Blossom season and Shinjuku Gyoen had picture perfect views.
We took the Marunouchi line to Shijuku-gyoenmae station and walked about 5 mins to the park entrance. To enter the park you have to pay 200 yen. It's worth it to escape the throngs of people and the noise of the busy city.
When we got to the park it was rainy and so there were very few people walking around. We didn't have too much time to explore this part of Tokyo so we were up for a day out in the rain. However, it cleared up and the park stayed empty so we had entire areas of the park to ourselves.
I wish we would have thought to bring a picnic lunch because it would have been the perfect location.