Tokyo is a pulsating metropolis. Jam-packed sidewalks and a dizzying array of trains, subways, buses and taxis that move the city’s 13 million inhabitants should make it seem more overwhelming than it actually is, and this is in no small part because of the lovely green spaces that dot the landscape.
The Japanese are very keen on gardening. Just looking at the perfectly pruned plants makes my green thumb hurt. Shinjuku Gyoen in Shinjuku are gardens on a grand scale. To enter, buy your 200 yen ticket from the ticket machine (don’t worry, English is an option), then feed it into the turnstile and walk in. Grab a map and decide which way you want to go first. Inside the park there are French formal, English and Japanese gardens. Rarely do you get an opportunity to compare such distinct gardening styles (there is more than one?) by walking through a single park.
Just like every place you go in Japan, the park has plenty of places to eat and drink, so if you didn’t bring a picnic lunch purchased from nearby the nearby Tokyu Hands department store, don’t panic. There are a couple of tea houses and the pavilion to check out, as well as some ponds to wander around. The park is large and it is pretty easy to feel like you are all alone here. Then you look up and see the towering sky scrapers of central Tokyo and you are brought back to reality.
The gardens are open from 9am to 4:30pm Tuesday through Sunday. They are open on Monday during the cherry blossom season.
Shinjuku is one of the most densely populated areas you will visit, and the gardens offer the perfect urban escape.