Day 3 – Shinjuku Gyoen

Shinjuku Gyoen is a large park in Shinjuku, one of the most important cities in Tokyo. The park was originally privately owned. It was converted into an imperial garden towards the end of the Meiji period and has been open to the public since 1949.

Japanese gardens are designed to be interesting every season, and Shinjuku Gyoen is no exception. Even though it was still a little early for the cherry blossoms (apart from a few early varieties), camellias were already blooming everywhere. In the “Upper Pond,” the ducks were already enjoying the fairly warm spring sun.

Highlights in Shinjuku Gyoen

A small lantern in the "Upper Pond"
A small lantern in the “Upper Pond”

The park consists of several, differently laid out parts. The Japanese garden, located more to the west, is very typical for this type of garden design, composed of many small islets and bridges. In the center is the Taiwanese pavilion, built in 1924 for the wedding of Emperor Hirohito. This pavilion is modeled after the Taiwanese Chinese style that was popular at the time. The carved ceiling beams are particularly impressive!

I sat down on a bench at the pavilion and closed my eyes for a few minutes. Listening to the rustling wind in the bamboo while the sun warmed me up felt simply amazing. Finally, a day with good weather! I took the opportunity to research the evening program (a Kabuki play) and booked a ticket for a tourist performance on the spur of the moment.

The English Garden is laid out extensively and lavishly. It was too early in the year for most of the flowers and trees there. In the Formal Garden in the eastern part, spring was not yet there as well. The latter is reminiscent of the French Baroque gardens. In the summer, many roses bloom here, including some rarities.

The Greenhouse


On the way back I passed the large greenhouse and spontaneously decided to peek inside. I hoped to see more flowering plants there and was not disappointed. Unfortunately, it was so humid that it was almost impossible to take decent pictures – the lens fogged up almost immediately. A short path of maybe 20 minutes leads on several levels under a small waterfall, and you can marvel at many plants from tropical and subtropical regions.

Right next to it is the old Emperor’s rest house, which has just been restored, and the old greenhouse and botanical research center (also closed). This will soon be reopened as a museum.

I roamed around a bit. A group of photographers had already gathered around the few cherry trees in bloom, so I joined them and acted quite “touristy”.

A peaceful oasis

Shinjuku is otherwise very urban and characterized by many skyscrapers. The famous train station is almost overwhelming and it is easy to get lost there (I managed to do so). The park is an oasis of calm in all the hustle and bustle. Unfortunately, the teahouses were closed. But I could still grab a delicious lunch in the park restaurant. As always, you can eat anywhere without worrying about the quality of the food.

It was a great trip, and at just 500 ¥, totally affordable. The best way to get there is to take the metro to Shinjuku Gyoenmae station, from there it’s only a few minutes’ walk.

Pictures – click on the photo for more information:

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