Koishikawa Botanical Garden

A Green Oasis in Tokyo

By David Parmer   Mar 13, 2013 - 3 min read

Tokyo can be a very hectic place. Whether you’re rushing around to catch all the sights and do some great shopping, or commuting for your daily grind, sometimes it's necessary to just take a break, chill out and re-charge. And if you’re not lucky enough to be able to hop on a plane to some tropical paradise, then here is an alternative: visit one of Tokyo’s urban green spaces. Parks, riverside paths and temples abound. Another, and often-overlooked, type of green place is Tokyo’s botanical gardens.

One of the most accessible, and interesting is the Koishikawa Botanical Garden of Tokyo University. Be advised, the garden is a good 10 to15- minute walk from the nearest stations, but it is well worth that walk. Covering just over 160m2, the garden has its roots in the Koishikawa Medicinal Herb Garden established during the Tokugawa period (1603-1867). Today the garden is one of two botanical research facilities operated by Japan’s prestigious Tokyo University. The purpose of both garden facilities is to contribute to research and education in plant sciences.

Visitors entering the main gate have a choice of two routes to explore the grounds: going straight ahead leads to the upper garden, while going left leads to the lower garden. It is really a question of exploring in a clockwise, or counter-clockwise direction. Going straight ahead leads past the art-deco main building and onto a broad tree-lined commons ideal for strolling or picnicking. On the right is a venerable domed green house, home to 1100 species of orchids and tropical plants. A bit further on are a copse of magnificent mature trees of various types (Somewhat over-zealous signage will give you all the information you will want) Several paths lead down to the lower garden, one through a plum tree orchard, fragrant in season and another past a pine forest.

The dominant feature of the lower garden is the majestic two-storey red and white former main building of the Tokyo Medical School. Constructed in 1876 (Meiji Nine) it was moved to its present location in 1969 and is now a museum focusing on the University of Tokyo. A series of ponds stretches from in front of the building almost back to the entrance. In one pond you can find a school of multi-colored Japanese carp, and on the others various waterfowl including ducks and sometimes even a crane. If you are a nature-lover, or just someone in need of a time-out from the buzz of Tokyo, an hour or so spent at Koishikawa Botanical garden might be just what the doctor ordered.

Koishikawa Botanical Gardens ( Botanical Gardens, Graduate School of Science, The University of Tokyo) 3-7-1 Hakusan, Bunkyo-k Tokyo, 112-001 Tel: 03-3814-2625

Open daily from 9:00-16:30. Closed Mondays Green House 10:00-15:30. Closed Mondays &Thursdays Entrance Fee Adults 330 Yen/Children 110 Yen

Transportation 10 minutes from Hakusan Station on Mita Subway Line 15 minutes from Myogadani Station on Marunouchi Subway Line

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David Parmer

David Parmer @David Parmer

I am a copywriter and photographer living and working in Tokyo. My interests are nature, Japanese architecture, and all things Chinese.

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