Shinjuku Gyoen is one of the largest and most popular public gardens in Tokyo. Located a short walk from the popular Shinjuku neighborhood, the park is particularly renowned for its seasonal display of cherry blossoms.
Shinjuku Gyoen was constructed on the grounds of the former residence of Lord Naito, a daimyo (feudal lord) from Shinshu Province (current day Nagano Prefecture). The site was created as an Imperial garden in 1906, but was later reopened after World War II as a national garden, for the enjoyment of all the nation’s citizens.
Shinjuku Gyoen combines three very unique styles – a Japanese garden, a formal garden and a landscape garden. The Japanese garden is home to the Kyu-Goryo-tei, or Taiwan Pavilion, which was constructed for the wedding of the Emperor Showa. This section of the park also hosts a two-week chrysanthemum festival every November. The formal garden was designed in the French style and is best known for its profusion of roses in spring. The landscape garden draws inspiration from the manicured lawns of English gardens and features sweeping open spaces and glades of cherry trees.
Though Shinjuku Gyoen is lovely in any season, the garden really shines in the early spring with the blooming of Japan’s iconic cherry blossoms. Over 1000 trees of a dozen different varieties dot the grounds, meaning that even visitors to Tokyo outside of the main blooming period are likely to find a few trees still in flower in the park. The profusion of trees and the wide-open spaces also make this one of the city’s best-loved spots for a hanami (flower viewing) picnic in the early spring. With a ban on the public consumption of alcohol in the park, this is a particularly popular option for family hanami outings. The Prime Minister even holds his official cherry blossom picnic on the grounds of Shinjuku Gyoen.
Admission to the garden was recently raised, with adult ticket prices now at ¥500. Those who anticipate visiting the garden several times through the year can purchase an annual passport for ¥2000.
Shinjuku Gyoen is a short walk from the entertainment district of Shinjuku, making this an easy addition to many tourist itineraries and a perfect location for a relaxing break from the bustle of the city.
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