Tokyo’s vast urban sprawl is dotted with large areas of green everywhere. There doesn’t seem to be a single neighborhood without a park worth showing off. They range from modern greens to traditional Japanese gardens—and you definitely want to enjoy a few of them while you explore the city.
Here is our guide to Tokyo’s most beautiful parks and what to visit them for: from firefly watching to illuminated autumn leaves and even sophisticated tea sipping in the middle of a pond.
Top tip: Parks are typically free and open 24 hours. Gardens will most likely have an entrance fee of a few hundred yen (a couple of dollars) and will be open roughly from 9 am to 5 pm on most days. Check out the details and links below for opening hours and closed days (often Mondays, if any).
Shinjuku Gyoen: Japanese gardens at their finest
Why visit: If you want to check out just one green space while in Tokyo, you might as well make it Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden. The area, once belonging to a feudal lord, is expansive and features Japanese, French and English gardens. There are also teahouses that offer matcha here.
Full guide: Shinjuku Gyoen: The Garden Lover’s Guide
Hamarikyu Garden: Teahouse experience for under ¥1,000
Why visit: The highlight of this very traditional Japanese garden is the teahouse in the middle of a beautiful pond where you can sip matcha starting from around 500 yen.
More details on Hamarikyu Garden.
The Imperial Palace Gardens: Taking in Japanese history from the lawn
Why visit: While you can enter the Imperial Palace grounds only by reservation with a guided tour, part of the surrounding garden is open to the public and free to enter. Stepping through the massive gates after you crossed the moat is quite impressive. Inside, you’ll find ruins of the old Edo castle, Japanese landscaped gardens (although on the more rudimentary side), and lawns great for stretching out and having a break await.
Full guide: Tokyo Imperial Palace Mega Guide
What’s nearby: Nearby is Kitanomaru Park, which houses the Budokan event space.
Ueno Park: All of Japan in one park
Why visit: There is a lot to do and see in Ueno Park! Scattered across this large park are art museums, temples, shrines and a lotus-filled pond. Back in the day, Ueno Park’s intent was to offer those that couldn’t travel a mini tour of Japan without leaving Tokyo. The park also holds festivals several times a year.
See more details on Ueno Park.
What’s nearby: A few minutes away, located along the Yamanote Line tracks, is Ameya-Yokocho, an open-air market with food stalls, watering holes, and small shops selling everything from shoes, clothing, toys, accessories, skin care products, unusual Kit Kats flavors, and much more.
Yoyogi Park: The place to have a drink with friends
Why visit: If you are foreigner living in Tokyo, you will most likely have made plenty of trips to Yoyogi Park for hanami (cherry blossom viewing) or a picnic with friends on a sunny Sunday afternoon. This park is open 24 hours, free to enter, and huge! There are cherry blossoms in spring, rose gardens in summer and maple leaves turning red in autumn. In between, there are fountains, ponds, and plenty of green to lounge out on. Visit the event square on summer weekend’s for one of the myriad cultural festivals.
Inokashira Park: Cursed swan boats
Why visit: What a beauty! Inokashira Park centers around a large pond with swan boats. Its landscaping style falls right in the middle of Western and Japanese sensibilities. There is also a small zoo right next to it that lets you pet small animals and has a walk-through house with squirrels. This park is popular with the locals on the weekend when there is a flea market on and artists, like musicians and manga readers, come out. (The manga readers tells stories and the audience eggs them on to continue with donations.) The park is also popular for dates, but don’t ride in the swan boats—it is believed to jinx your relationship!
More details on how to get to Inokashira Park which is about 20 minutes from both Shibuya and Shinjuku.
What’s nearby: The Ghibli Museum is right next door, but you’ll need to reserve tickets (far) in advance.
Rikugien: Illuminating night views
Why visit: Rikugien is another example of classic Japanese landscaping. This exceptionally beautiful garden is located a bit farther away from Tokyo’s main sights, but is definitely worth the journey. Rikugien should be on your list if you are here either during the cherry blossom or autumn season. Rikugien lights up the cherry blossoms and fall leaves at night in soft and atmospheric lighting.
Check the dates and extended opening hours for Rikugien Garden during the light-up periods using the links above. (Note: most Japanese gardens close around 5 pm unless they have special events happening.)
What’s nearby: From Rikugien, the Kyu-Furukawa Gardens are about 15 minutes away by foot.
Gardens at Hotel Chinzanso: Firefly watching in the middle of Tokyo
Why visit: A quick and honorary mention for this one as it technically isn’t a park, but the garden of a long-standing Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo near Edogawabashi Station. The gardens are picturesque and worth a visit during the firefly season in June. The hotel places fireflies in the gardens which glow at night, making it a very magical experience. Note that you will have to either stay at the hotel or visit one of the restaurants for tea or dinner to be able to enter the gardens.
Details on the the hotel’s firefly festival are listed under number 3 in this article.
What’s nearby: Visit the unusual St. Mary’s Cathedral, designed by Japanese architect Kenzo Tange. You can also head over to Edogawa Park or stroll along the Kanda River.
Institute for Nature Study: A park gone wild
Why visit: This green space is more nature reserve than manicured park, and is part of the National Museum of Nature and Science. There is plenty of sign posting on what flora and fauna you may see, and there are a lot. As it is rather wild, be prepared for lots of mosquitos if you come in summer—the little bloodsuckers are out from roughly May to November in Tokyo. It is a 10-minute walk from Meguro Station on the Yamanote Line.
Here is all you need to know about the Institute for Nature Study.
What’s nearby: Next door is the Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Art Museum, a fine example of Art Deco design and architecture in Tokyo.
Showa Kinen Koen: Massive enough to explore it by bike
If you feel like you need to see some real nature, but also don’t want to spend at least an hour on the train, you might want to compromise on Showa Memorial Park. This absolutely massive park, created in memory of Emperor Showa, has absolutely everything, from lakes to paths lined with huge trees and even fields of flowers. It is big enough to justify getting one of the rental bicycles. Located near Tachikawa Station about 30 minutes by train from Shinjuku.
What’s nearby: Need any home items? There is an IKEA across the street from the park.
Hibiya Park: Tulip fields, fountains and festivals
Why visit: Hibiya Park has a bit of everything: Japanese garden, Western landscaping with fountains and sculptures, fields of tulips in spring, a German festival in the spring and fall, and a Christmas market in December. It is quite pretty and a literal breath of fresh air that is easily accessible from Hibiya, Kasumigaseki, and Uchisaiwaicho Station. The park is located in one of Tokyo’s prime business districts and salarymen and office ladies can be seen taking their lunch break here. Hibiya Park is also free and always open.
What’s nearby: For further exploration, check out Ramen Street in Tokyo Station, the Imperial Palace or the Mitsubishi Ichigokan Museum.
Arisugawa-no-miya Memorial Park: A little gem in the embassy quarter
Why visit: This small but pretty park is located in Hiroo, an expat quarter of Tokyo and home to many embassies. The park itself is free to enter and nice for a quick break or a place to eat lunch between running errands or doing other sightseeing in the area.
Here are more details on Arisugawa Park.
What’s nearby: There’s National Azabu, an international grocer, and Hiroo shopping street near Hiroo Station.
Koishikawa Korakuen Gardens: As Japanese as it gets
Why visit: This garden is very traditional and sometimes overlooked by tourists, perhaps due to its size. It seems to be more popular with the locals who flock here when the cherries blossom and the maples turn color. It is located close to Tokyo Dome, between Korakuen and Sudobashi Station.
Check here for the location and other deets on Korakuen Garden.
What’s nearby: Check out the garden if you’re visiting Tokyo Dome for a baseball game or enjoying the Tokyo Dome City attractions.
Shinjuku Central Park: A bit of green next to the Metropolitan Government Office
Why visit: Not quite as impressive as Shinjuku Gyoen, but free. This park is pretty, but, in all honesty, not special enough to warrant a trip just to see it. It is also infamous for its homeless population that politely leaves during the day but returns at dusk. This park is also always open and free.
Here are more details on Shinjuku Central Park.
What’s nearby: This park is next to the popular Shinjuku Metropolitan Government Building, which has a free observation deck on the 45th floor.
Nakano Central Park: A favourite with the locals
Why visit: Again, probably not worth coming all the way to Nakano for, but if you are a local or tourist staying in the area, or if you’re visiting Nakano Broadway, check it out for a nice break. The park is popular with the locals who drink away the summer nights here or catch some sun rays on the weekend. Free and always open.
Here is how to get to Nakano Central Park.
Other parks in Tokyo
If you still want more options for pruned botany or lawns to lounge on, take a look at: