8 Reasons to Love Shinjuku Gyoen

I’ve been to Shinjuku Gyoen so many times in the 5 years I’ve been living in Tokyo that it almost feels like I’m arriving home when I walk through the park entrance gates. It’s become a very familiar place. From the cherry blossom season and hot summer days, to the vibrant red autumn leaves and snow-filled lawns, I’ve experienced it all at this park. It’s a great place to go whether you’re on your own, with friends, babysitting kids or even on a date!

Being a massive 58 hectares, it really feels like a sanctuary or oasis in the middle of a congested, fast-paced city. The towering trees scattered throughout the park muffle the sounds of traffic outside, and the surrounding skyscrapers are only visible from some areas, so it’s a good place to get away without actually getting away. It’s convenient like that!

The park officially has three sections: a French garden, traditional Japanese garden and an English lawn; but there is much more than that. These are my eight favourite areas in my favourite place, and eight reasons why it’s worth visiting!

1. French rose garden

The roses in the French garden seem to bloom on and off from spring to autumn. I’d say the best time to see them is in May—that’s when they look the most ‘full’. They smell divine and I love how that they bring a whole lot of colour to the park. In the off season though, the rows of bare hedges are a bit of a sad sight!

Shinjuku GyoenShinjuku Gyoen

2. Sycamore tree avenues

On either side of the rose garden are gorgeous sycamore tree avenues. In autumn (October-November), the giant leaves fall to the ground creating a thick carpet of leaves… perfect for leaf fights! This part of the park always reminds me of Paris. :)

Shinjuku gyoen

3. Japanese garden pond

Way over on the opposite side of the park is the traditional Japanese garden which has two ponds and a tea house. The rounded hedges and curved edges of the pond and bridges create a very peaceful atmosphere. I usually don’t spend too much time hanging out here because there’s not a lot of sitting space, but it’s always beautiful to walk through, especially after a snow day.

Shinjuku gyoen

Shinjuku gyoen

4. Taiwan pavilion

On top of the French, Japanese and English gardens, there’s also this Chinese architecture-inspired building, adding yet another international element to the park. It was apparently gifted to the Emperor in the 1920s by Japanese people living in Taiwan—though I’m not sure what their connection to the Imperial family was. The pavilion definitely stands out in the park, and from inside, you get a beautiful framed view of the Japanese garden on the other side of the pond.

Shinjuku gyoenShinjuku gyoen

5. Picnics on the lawn

One of my favourite things to do is lay on the lawn at Shinjuku Gyoen. I grew up running around barefoot and now live in a city of concrete… I just miss grass!! A friend is a yoga instructor and sometimes had outdoor classes here which is so relaxing. And of course, the lawns are a fantastic place to picnic with friends, especially in spring and summer when the weather is warm! It’s also interesting to see Japanese couples getting ‘cosy’ on the lawn, something you don’t see in public very often.

Shinjuku gyoen

6. Momiji hill

The back corner of the park, near the Sendagaya entrance, is an amazing place called momiji hill. Full of Japanese maples, early December is the best time to experience this heavenly corner. The explosions of autumn colour are absolutely unreal. And the best part… it’s almost never crowded!

Shinjuku Gyoen koyo

7. Greenhouse

I can’t believe I only went into the greenhouse for the first time a few months ago. I guess there was just too much outside for me to want to go inside! A winding path leads you past cacti, ferns, giant lily pads, a waterfall and even over a skywalk that makes you feel like you’re up in the canopy of a jungle. I was actually quite impressed!

8. Sakura

Without a doubt though, spring has to be the best time to visit Shinjuku Gyoen. The park is home to roughly 1,300 cherry trees—around 50 different ‘cultivars’, or varieties—that bloom from January to May. There are even a few special ones that bloom in autumn. Some of the trees here are hybrids of hybrids, and don’t exist anywhere else!

Shinjuku gyoen

Have you been to Shinjuku Gyoen before? What season did you go in? And what part of the park did you like the best?

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22 thoughts on “8 Reasons to Love Shinjuku Gyoen

  1. Can’t wait to be back in Tokyo to visit Shinjuku Gyoen. Thanks for the tips about what to see in each season, and beautiful pictures of the park in the snow


    1. Thanks, Tracey. Me too :) Parks and gardens have been a big part of the culture for a long time. It’s so cool walking through some knowing the history behind them!


  2. Your photos are beautiful and have definitely convinced me to add this to the list for a future visit. #5 is especially appealing–picnics on the lawn are the best! Thank you for sharing. :)


    1. I’m so glad! It definitely deserves to be on every itinerary. And it’s easy to get to too.
      I LOVE picnics too. We’re in cherry blossom season now so I’ve got a few planned for this week!


  3. 新宿御苑の広場で、お弁当を食べた日を思い出しました。東京のど真ん中にあるこの壮大な公園は、国内外の訪問客にとってオアシスですね。雪景色の日本庭園と紅葉した並木道、桜満開のお花見と豪華なバラ園など四季折々の美しさを楽しめますね。また新宿御苑に行ってみたいです。


    1. 新宿御苑は一年中楽しめる公園ですね。1月に年間パスポートを買いましたので、今年何度も行く予定です!


  4. Hi Celia,
    Shinjuku Gyoen is indeed a wonderful place to relax, as well as being one of Tokyo’s lungs. I don’t know if you remember Melbourne’s Botanic Gardens, but they are similar in being so close to the city yet seeming to be a world away. I think what I enjoyed most about Shinjuku Gyoen was the avenue of Sycamores. Scrunchy autumn leaves bring out the kid in all of us haha. Lovely pics all round :).


    1. Hi John~ I think I’ve been to the Botanic Gardens… though only have vague memories of a pond?! Speaking of Melbourne, have you been to the gardens in the Dandenong Ranges? I wish I’d gone while I was there.

      And yep, who doesn’t love crunchy autumn leaves! I’ve had lots of fun times in those avenues haha. :)


      1. Your memory is good Celia as there is a pond at the Botanic Gardens. I have visited a few gardens around Melbourne, but even though we complain of cold (and hot) weather, our winters are not cold enough to produce the sensational autumn colours you find in Japan and elsewhere. I’ll keep looking though!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I can imagine Shinjuku Gyoen being one of the most favorite places for tourists in Tokyo in the upcoming weeks at the height of the cherry blossom season. I’ll keep in mind to visit this beautiful garden when I’m in the Japanese capital one day. Thanks for this post, Celia!


    1. Oh definitely during the cherry blossom season it is unbelievably packed! I usually only go during this time of year if I’m having a picnic with friends… it’s just too crowded to go just for a stroll! Regardless of the season, I highly recommend going whenever you do make it here :)


  6. I saw your lovely pictures. That Rosie is it the lovely, too!
    After the cherry blossom seasons, here comes the rose seasons!
    Definitely my next stop:)


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