Shinjuku Gyoen

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Name in Japanese: 新宿御苑
Area: Shinjuku
Address: 11 Naitomachi Shinjuku, Tokyo 160-0014 [map]
Phone: 03-3350-0151 03-3350-0151
Access: 277 m from Shinjuku-sanchōme Station Fukutoshin Line (C13)Marunouchi Line (M9)Shinjuku Line (S2)
302 m from Shinjuku-gyoenmae Station Marunouchi Line (M10)
0.7 km from Yoyogi Station Oedo Line (E26)Yamanote Line (JY18)Chūō-Sōbu Line (JB29)
Hours: 9am-4pm (Closed Mondays)
Admission: Adults: ¥500
Students: ¥250

Slap bang in the middle of central Tokyo lies Shinjuku Gyoen, and it’s so different to the jam-packed surrounding streets that it’s almost as if you’ve stepped out of the city and into some older, more peaceful realm as soon as you pass through the turnstiles. There has been a garden here since the Edo period; the current garden’s layout dates from 1906, with extensive rebuilding taking place after WWII.

Photo by Takuya ASADA used under CC

For landscaping fans, there’s a sizable tropical greenhouse, a Thai Pavilion, seasonal chrysanthemum displays, and four styles of garden (French Formal, English Landscape and Japanese Traditional), as well as vast informal areas to explore. The park is also home to massive (no, seriously: massive) Himalayan cedars, a plane-tree avenue, ginkgos aplenty (worth making a special trip to see in autumn), a cypress grove, many red and black Japanese  pines. Two lakes linked by a small river form a peaceful center to the park, overlooked by a restored Imperial Rest House.

Autumn leaves await travelers from New York to Tokyo
Autumn is second only to spring when it comes to prime visiting time for Tokyo. | Photo by Marufish used under CC

Pay the small entrance fee, relax on the lawns, or wander the miles of snaking paths. In sakura season the park’s 1500 cherry trees explode in drifts of soft pink cherry blossoms, and it becomes a popular viewing spot. Visitors in November can also check out the park’s lone late-flowering cherry.

If you get hungry from all the walking around, here are 5 sushi restaurants in the Shinjuku area.

Access: 10 minutes Shinjuku Station (New South Exit), 5 minutes from Shinjukugyoenmae or 5 minutes from Sendagaya Station.