Going to Japan is a great idea. The capital, Tokyo, is one of the most popular destinations in the world and with good reason: the museums, attractions, restaurants, theme parks, shrines, shopping centres, and parks.
There are some fantastic things to discover in Japan, especially the parks and gardens in the capital. There are plenty of wonderful green spaces in Tokyo which will make you almost forget about the concrete jungle that surrounds you.
In this article, Superprof is looking at the best parks and gardens in Tokyo.
Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden
The Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden is located in the Shinjuku ward. Across 58 hectares, this is one of the largest parks in Tokyo and worth visiting if you find yourself in the capital. The park draws upon three main styles:
- Japanese Traditional
- French Formal
- English Landscape
With 1,500 cherry trees which flower in spring, it’s a great place to stop off at when visiting or living in Tokyo. With 20,000 trees and its relaxing, romantic setting, you won’t worry too much about having to pay 200 yen (£1.50) to get into Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden.
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Koishikawa-Kōrakuen is the garden by the Tokyo Dome in Bunkyo City, Tokyo. It dates back to the Edo period and is part of Japan’s cultural heritage. This natural park surrounds a pond which is beautiful all year round.
In autumn, you can enjoy the reds and oranges of the Momiji tree. The park welcomes plenty of foreigners and Japanese visitors alike and it’s one of the city’s most beautiful places to visit.
It costs 300 yen (£2) to get in and there’s even a restaurant. You can also get guides to show you around.
Tokyo Imperial Palace East Gardens
You can find the Tokyo Imperial Palace East Gardens in Chiyoda City in the heart of the capital. The East Gardens and internal gardens can be accessed through the Kitanomaru Park just seconds from Tokyo Station.
These luxurious gardens offer an exceptional view over the palace which was built during the Edo period and reconstructed during the 20th century. Plenty of tourists visit the gardens as well as joggers who use the open space to run.
You can also get an English-speaking guide to show you around the gardens. You can book the guide on the Imperial Palace’s website.
Make the most of this beautiful natural site that’s steeped in history.
The Hamarikyu Gardens cover 25 hectares of the Tsukiji neighbourhood by Tokyo Bay. The park, which is surrounded by skyscrapers, dates back to the 17th century and is considered a site of exceptional natural beauty by the Japanese government.
The lungs of the concrete jungle, Hamarikyu Gardens are a great place to walk around on an afternoon after visiting Akihabara or Harajuku. You can walk around Shinori no Ike, the park’s central lake or have a tea in the Nakajima teahouse.
It costs 300 yen (£2) to enter the park and it’s open between 9:00 and 17:00 every day.
You can also make the most of the gardens to just admire the trees flowering in spring. You can also enjoy the Dentsu Building (free entry) which offers great views of the park.
In the northeast of the city in Ueno district of the Taito ward, you’ll find the famous Ueno Park. It’s great walking around this park when the cherry blossoms are out.
Inside the park, you’ll find:
- Temples and shrines
- National museums
- Places to catch shows
- A huge zoo
- The Shinobazu Pond
Whether you want to walk, have a picnic, rent a pedalo, enjoy performances, or take photos with the statue of the last samurai, you won’t be bored in Ueno Park. Heading out the west entrance will take you to the Todai University campus. Entry to the park is free and you can go at any time of day.
Be warned that at night a large number of homeless people squat and sleep in the park.
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The Rikugi-en Gardens are a large green space in the Bunkyo-ku area of Tokyo dating back to the 18th century. This is a beautiful sight throughout the year but particularly in autumn with the red leaves of the maple trees. It’s a great place to walk around day or night.
Rikugi-en refers to the six principles of waka poetry.
The park inspired Japanese waka poetry. It only costs 300 yen (£2) to visit the park and it’s open between 9:00 and 17:00 and has night visits during autumn.
Yoyogi Park is a large public park in the Harajuku neighbourhood by the Meiji Shrine in the Shibuya ward. It’s very popular with the Japanese and tourists alike.
You’ll find cosplayers on Sundays and even rockabilly performances at the entrance. It’s a great place for a picnic when the weather’s nice. Entry is free so make the most of it.
Sumida Park is a large green space that runs along its namesake river between the Sumida and Taito neighbourhoods. The park is the banks of the river complete with flowers and trees in an otherwise urban setting.
Walks in Sumida Park are very popular during the Hanami period when the Japanese enjoy the beauty of flowers and the cherry blossom in particular.
At the foot of the Tokyo Sky Tree tower, this is a great place to enjoy a breather. On the last Saturday of July, there’s a popular fireworks display. It’s open every day and is completely free so make sure it’s on your travel itinerary.
The second you get off the plane at Haneda Airport or Narita Airport, you'll be spoilt for choice with things to do and you won't know where to go on the Tokyo metro.
Now you know a bit more about Tokyo’s green spaces, parks, and gardens, you can start planning your trip.
Looking for something more thrilling?
Check out Tokyo's best theme parks.
To learn more about Japan, Mount Fuji, and its main cities, check out our other articles on the subject.
If you'd like to learn Japanese, there are plenty of great books out there and online resources and apps available. However, if you want to learn a language, you need to speak it and you can do that thanks to the many talented Japanese tutors on Superprof.
There are three main types of tutorial available and each comes with advantages and disadvantages in terms of your learning and budget: face-to-face tutorials, online tutorials, and group tutorials.
Face-to-face tutorials are probably what most people think of when they hear "private tutorials". This is a tutorial between a private tutor and a single student. While this is the most effective type of tutorial, it's also the most costly. After all, your tutor spends time outside the tutorials planning and tailoring the course to you.
Online tutorials are similar to face-to-face tutorials but instead of the tutor being in the room with you, they'll teach you via webcam using video conferencing software. While online tutorials have their drawbacks with hands-on subjects, they're great for foreign languages, especially since you can get online tutors from anywhere in the world. Since online tutors don't have to travel to their students and can schedule more tutorials each week, they tend to charge less than face-to-face tutorials.
Finally, there are group tutorials. Unlike the other two types of tutorials, you won't be the only student in the session. As a result, they tend to work out cheaper than the other tutorials since every student in attendance is footing the bill. However, with other students in the class, you won't get as much one-on-one time with your tutor and the sessions won't be tailored to just you. If you and a group of friends are going to Japan, you should consider getting group tutorials before you go.
Before you make your decision, remember that there are many tutors on Superprof that offer the first hour of tuition for free. You can use this time to get to know them, ask them about their teaching methods, and see if they're right for you. I recommend starting to learn Japanese with group tutorials for beginners and once you reach a conversational level, you can start working with a face-to-face or online tutor.
In the end, the decision is down to you, how you like to learn, and your budget.