Located in downtown Tokyo in Shiodome, the Hama Rikyu stands between the Tsukiji Fish Market and the Kyu Shiba Rikyu gardens. It is the only garden that has a water front, where visitors can go to take scene walks along the bay and feel the cool ocean breeze. The Hama Rikyu is truly massive, rivaling the Shinjuku Gyoen in size and features. The garden’s key feature is the traditional Japanese tea house sitting on an island in the center of a fairly large lake.
The former palace of the Emperor certainly is grand and imperial. Luckily for tourists there is no admission fee. However the park is closed on Mondays and Fridays, so be sure to time your jaunt accordingly. Being fit for an emperor one can only imagine what beauty and vistas await inside. The gardens certainly do not disappoint. With a stunning Japanese Garden, fields and enclosures, the recurring design element is ‘size matters’.
Ironically, behind the loud and blusterous Tokyo Dome lies this quite and quaint garden. Its landscaping is certainly the most unique amongst the gardens in Tokyo with an assortment of various waterfalls, rivers, ponds, islands and fields. You’ll find a tremendous variety here. Some key features include ancient bridges from centuries past. The garden was built for the shogun at that time, and its purpose was to give him a place to have peace and pleasure.
Off the beaten path in north western Tokyo is Komagome and Sugamo, two sleepy towns which hide on of Tokyo’s best gardens. The garden’s focal point is the large pond in its center, and the banks dotted with finely trimmed azalea bushes. Like most of the gardens in the city there is a Traditional Japanese teahouse where you can have some green tea and Japanese snacks. Depending on the time of year the foliage will change, from blooming flowers in the spring and summer to red and orange maples in the autumn.
South of the Hama Rikyu is the much smaller but none the less impressive Kyu Shiba Rikyu gardens. Upon stepping through the front gate and paying your nominal 300 yen admittance you may well find yourself dumbstruck with the vistas before you. You have literally been transported into another world. But you’re kept very much in reality thanks to the skyscrapers above the tree line. The Kyu Shiba is wide open garden, in contrast to the closed in and intimate Rikugien and Korakuen.
From any point in the garden you can see it in its entirety, making it the only garden of its kind in Tokyo.
Whilst perhaps not worthy of mention amongst the other gardens in this list, the Chuo Shinjuku Central Park still has some charm and interest. For instance the modest Kumano shrine ranks high in the cities most clean and pleasant shrines. You’ll also find an impressive waterfall, 20 feet in height and 100 feet in breadth, a top the falls you’ll see one of the priceless views of the Shinjuku Skyline.
Taking its place amongst the top gardens in Japan, the Shinjuku Gyoen is a delight and an experience. Tourists will be pleased to hear that admission is in fact free on weekends. During the week the fee is a nominal 200 yen making it amongst the cheapest gardens to visit.
Fees aside, not only is the Shinjuku Gyoen the largest garden in Tokyo, it has arguably the best Japanese garden, if not for the fact that due to its large size it can host a wide array of elements. But that’s only the beginning.
A place unlike any other city, Ueno Park is a sprawling complex with over 10 museums and educational institutions, a zoo, cafés, shrines, all spread about a huge and heavily treed park. The park is indeed so heavily treed that there is sufficient shade to stay cool even during the summer.