Translated by MATCHA_En
Getting The Most Out Of Your Shinjuku Gyoen Visit!
Written by Koshizuka Misato
A guide to Shinjuku Gyoen, with everything from how to get in, to its unique charms. Find out the most popular sightseeing spots in Shinjuku Gyoen.
Shinjuku Gyoen is a popular tourist spot in Shinjuku. Established as an imperial park about 100 years ago, Shinjuku Gyoen houses three gardens with Japanese, English, and French themes to them. Beautifully decorating the park each season are over 10,000 trees including cherry trees and maple trees, as well as roses of all kinds and camellias.
Today let's take a look at the park up close, focusing on how to enter Shinjuku Gyoen, its history and its charm.
The History of Shinjuku Gyoen
The origin of Shinjuku Gyoen dates back roughly 400 years ago to the Edo period. The daimyo (local feudal lord) Kiyonari Naito, who was bestowed a vast area of land including what is now Shinjuku Gyoen, built a large mansion here. Later it came under the ownership of the Bakufu government, the organization ruling the country at the time. After becoming an experimental site for agricultural development, ownership changed to the Imperial family in 1906, and the garden was later opened to the public in 1949.
The Tamamo Pond on the east side of the park is a partial remnant of the Naito family’s Tamagawa Garden, retaining the feel of the original garden.
Shinjuku Gyoen’s Biggest Attraction: the Three Gardens
The most notable feature of Shinjuku Gyoen is the gardens. Shinjuku Gyoen has three large gardens: the Japanese Garden, English Garden, and French Garden. Perhaps the most attractive feature about Shinjuku Gyoen is that you can see three very different looking gardens at once.
Experience Japanese Culture in the Japanese Garden
This traditional Japanese Garden is built around a pond dotted with bridges, and from the center of the bridge you can have an astounding 360 degree view of the garden. Since the scenery changes each season with cherry trees, plum trees, maple trees and silver grass, you can enjoy it at all times of the year.
In the center of the pond is the Kyu-Goryotei (old palace), which was constructed specifically for visitors to enjoy the cool breeze. The Kyu-Goryotei is made in authentic Chinese-style construction which, while rare in Japan, was actually gifted by Japanese people residing in Taiwan in celebration of the imperial wedding, and is designated as a historical building due to its significance.
Thanks to its high vantage point, a pleasant view greets you as you look out over the Japanese Garden from inside Kyu-Goryotei.
The British Garden, Perfect for Relaxing
The large garden in the center of Shinjuku Gyoen is the British Garden. Fashioned after English gardens, it utilizes the gentle undulating landscape to create a lush, relaxing lawn where people can rest and relax to their hearts' content.
This garden has many tall trees, creating an open feel. The towering tulip tree in the center of the garden is said to be over 30 meters tall. In addition, lots of wild cherry trees bloom in the spring, painting the entire area a mesmerizing shade of pink.
The French Garden Has a Romantic Atmosphere
To the east of the park lies the French Garden, whose flower beds contain 500 flowers from 110 different species and a tree-lined 200m long pathway.
The flower bed mainly consists of roses, and is best viewed in the autumn. This flower bed is comprised of various roses in shades of red, yellow, white, and pink, and is a very popular photography spot in Shinjuku Gyoen.
This garden, in which you can experience a European atmosphere whilst in Japan, is popular not only with the Japanese but also with tourists.
Entering Shinjuku Gyoen
You must purchase a ticket in order to enter Shinjuku Gyoen. There are three gates from which you can enter the park: Shinjuku Gate to the north, Ookido Gate to the east and Sendagaya Gate to the south; you can buy tickets at any one of these gates.
Tickets are sold at ticket windows or from machines.
At the machine, you can choose the number of visitors and insert the amount displayed to purchase a ticket. One adult ticket costs just 200 yen.
This is the admission ticket.
You can enter by holding up the barcode of the admission ticket to the screen with the red border. Once used, you cannot enter the park with that same ticket again. If you wish to exit temporary for lunch or other businesses, talk to the ticketing officer to obtain a re-admission ticket.
Helpful Facilities in the Park
All Year Round Greenhouse
The Large Greenhouse, which is located right by the Ookido Gate, exhibits various plants from different regions all year long. The interior of this greenhouse is separated into jungle, pond and tropical areas, so you can view each region's distinctive plants.
The flowers in the garden bloom even in winter, letting viewers enjoy their beautiful colors all year long.
Vendors Provide Tasty Snacks!
There are five vendors in the garden and each sells juice as well as ice cream during summer. Rest areas are situated near vendors, allowing visitors to rest their tired feet and nibble on some snacks.
Convenient, Family-Friendly Restrooms
There are a total of ten restroom locations inside the garden. These restrooms are easily accessible by wheelchair, and visitors with baby strollers have little to worry about as well.