Translated by Ellyn Barnes
3 Ways To Get To Shinjuku Gyoen
Written by Koshizuka Misato
Learn how to find the three entrances to the gardens of Shinjuku Gyoen, one of the largest parks in Tokyo. We also introduce what visitors can see at Shinjuku Gyoen, from cherry blossoms in spring its Japanese gardens and relaxing green spaces.
Shinjuku Gyoen boasts overwhelming popularity as a sightseeing spot in the Shinjuku area. People flock to this park every day to enjoy the seasonal flowers, like delicate cherry blossoms and gorgeous fall foliage, and its three different types of gardens: Japanese, British, and French. Most of the people coming to Shinjuku are likely wanting to visit this park.
Not many people seem to know this, but there are actually three different entrances to Shinjuku Gyoen. To make the most of your visit, you can pick the entrance closest to the train station you're traveling to, or the one that leads to the garden that you want to see first. In this article, we explain how to get to these different entrances, and where they lead to.
JR Shinjuku Station: Shinjuku Gate
The Shinjuku Gate is the entrance that gets the most use out of the three. Many people come this way to go walking through the park.
The most convenient way to get to this gate is from the JR Shinjuku Station. First, take the south exit and head down the left-hand side of Koshu Kaido, the main street straight ahead of you. After about ten minutes, you'll come across the Shinjuku Gate on the right-hand side.
We highly recommend travelers use the JR Pass and the Tokyo Subway Ticket to save money on traveling on JR trains, the Tokyo Metro, and Toei Subway. These discount passes not only help with navigating to and around Shinjuku Station, but throughout the rest of Tokyo and beyond.
From this gate, the Japanese- and British-style gardens are about the same distance away. The Japanese garden, which was made to cross the length of the park, has a unique, Japanese atmosphere, while in the British garden you can relax on the expansive lush lawns.
This gate is great in that it allows you to pick either garden depending on how you feel that day. Those wanting to visit the Japanese-style garden first, head right. Those wanting to be refreshed by the open space of the British-style garden, head straight on.
Shinjuku Gyoenmae Station: Okido Gate
This is the Okido Gate, located on the opposite side of the Japanese garden. You can get here from Shinjuku Gyoenmae Station exit number two. Once you exit the station, cross the road straight ahead of you, turn left at the junction, follow the road for five minutes and you'll reach this gate.
Next to Okido Gate you'll find a large greenhouse, where you can see many varieties of flowers and trees on display, as well as the Tamamo Pond, which could be considered the origin of Shinjuku Gyoen.
If you continue to the left, past the pond, you'll reach the French formal garden. Autumn is the best time to view the many different kinds of flower that grow here, with roses taking center stage. During this time, the garden comes to life with the beautiful colors of the fall. Another sight to be seen here is the 200-meter long street lined with tall sycamores, a type of roadside tree popular in Japan.
Sendagaya Station: Sendagaya Gate
Opposite the south-side Shinjuku and Okido Gates is the northern Sendagaya Gate.
Once you leave JR Sendagaya Station, head straight to the right, and turn right again around the first corner. Go under the highway and train overpass, and follow the same street for about five minutes. You'll soon see Sendagaya Gate on the right-hand side.
If you take a right once you enter the gate you'll find the Sakura Area, where tens of Japanese cherry blossom trees are planted. Past that, you'll find Maple Hill, where the trees turn bright red in the fall. Sendagaya Gate is unique in that it perfectly displays the highlights of Japan's four seasons: sakura in spring, newly budding greenery in summer, autumn colors in the fall, and winter scenery in the colder months.
If you head straight on after passing through Sendagaya Gate, you'll come across the strong>Taiwanese Pavillion, a Chinese-style building that allows you to overlook the Japanese garden from the center of the park. Sent as a gift back when Shinjuku Gyoen was still an imperial garden, nowadays it's considered a historic landmark.
Why Visit Shinjuku Gyoen? Its Rich History
Shinjuku Gyoen was created around 400 years ago on the property of a local feudal lord named Kiyonari Naito. The garden later came under the ownership of the military government that used to rule the country during the Edo period (1603 - 1868). 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 one part that was originally the Tamagawa Garden belonging to Naito’s family. This pond retaining the feel of the original garden.
The Charms of the Three Types of Gardens
The most attractive feature about Shinjuku Gyoen is that you can see three very different looking gardens at once. Let’s see some of their features in detail.
The Classic Beauty of the Japanese Garden
The traditional Japanese Garden is built around a pond dotted with bridges. From these bridges one can enjoy an astounding 360 degree view of the garden. Since the scenery changes each season with sakura (cherry blossoms), plum flowers, maple trees and silver grass, you can enjoy it at at any time of the year.
In the center of the pond there is a structure called Kyu-Goryotei (“old palace”), which was constructed specifically for the visitors to enjoy the cool breeze. The Kyu-Goryotei is made with authentic Chinese-style architecture, which, while rare in Japan, was actually gifted by a Japanese lord residing in Taiwan in celebration of the imperial wedding, and is considered a historical building due to its special significance.
The Relaxing British Garden
The large garden in the center of Shinjuku Gyoen iis the British Garden. Fashioned after English gardens, it features a lush, relaxing lawn where people can rest and relax to their hearts' content.
The towering tulip tree in the center of the garden is said to be over 30 meters tall. In addition, many wild cherry trees bloom in the spring, painting the entire area in mesmerizing pink color and creating a beautiful, dream-like scenery.
The Romantic French Garden
To the east of the park lies the French Garden, where more than 110 kinds of flowers grow, and a roughly 200-meter long road lined with trees can be seen.
The flower bed mainly consists of roses, and it looks best during the autumn. It comprises various kinds of roses that dot the landscape in red, yellow, white, and pink, and is known to be a very popular sightseeing spot in Shinjuku Gyoen.
In addition, planted along a road spanning 200 m in the French Garden there are about 156 of the world's most popular roadside trees, plane trees. This garden, where you can feel a European atmosphere while being in Japan, is popular not only with the Japanese but also with international visitors.
Entering Shinjuku Gyoen
In order to enter Shinjuku Gyoen, you need to purchase a ticket.
Tickets can be bought from the staff at the ticket office, but also from the ticket machines.
Choose the number of persons in your group and insert the amount displayed to purchase a ticket. One adult ticket costs 500 yen (the picture above shows an old price).
This is the admission ticket.
You can enter by holding up the bar code of the admission ticket to the screen with the red border. Once used, you cannot enter with that same ticket again. If you wish to exit temporarily for lunch or other businesses, ask the ticketing officer for a re-admission ticket.