Tokyo may be notorious for being a dense urban concrete jungle, but good thing it has more than enough pockets of green to make city life more breathable. Scattered around the metro are scenic Japanese gardens of various scales, where anyone looking to find a piece of quiet can surely enjoy a relaxing down time.

Imperial Palace East Gardens

A must-visit especially for Tokyo first-timers, the Imperial Palace Gardens have moats, castle tower ruins, historical structures, a wide lawn, and of course, a beautifully landscaped Edo-period garden. The park is open to the public free of charge, and for a richer appreciation of its history, you might want to consider joining a free walking tour arranged by local volunteer organizations.

Address: 1-1 Chiyoda, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo

Price: Free of charge

Website: http://www.kunaicho.go.jp/eindex.html

Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden

Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden is one of the prettiest places in Tokyo. Located just a few minutes walk from the New South Exit of the ever-bustling Shinjuku Station, this park is a total escape with its Japanese and Western-style gardens. It features open spaces suitable for picnics, one of the city’s best cherry blossoms spots in spring, gorgeous autumn foliage, seasonal flower exhibits, large ponds, and island pavilions.

Address: 11 Naitomachi, Shinjuku, Tokyo

Price: ¥200 (Adults), ¥50 (Elementary – Junior High School Students), Free (Infants)

Website: https://www.env.go.jp/garden/shinjukugyoen/english/

Rikugien

With its name literally translated as “6 poems gardens”, Rikugien’s beauty is patterned after scenes from classical Waka poetry. Those who enjoy leisure strolls will find this place very charming with its network of trails traversing manmade hills and forests surrounding a large central pond. There are also several teahouses along the way, just perfect for breathers in between walks around the entire property. As with other gardens, Rikugien’s landscape transforms with the seasons. In spring, however, its weeping cherry blossoms or Shidare-Zakura are particularly stunning and many Tokyoites gather here for Hanami parties.

Shidare-Zakura or weeping cherry blossom tree in spring.

Shidare-Zakura or weeping cherry blossom tree in spring.

Address: 6-16-3 Hon-komagome, Bunkyo, Tokyo

Price: ¥300 (Adults), ¥150 (65 and over), Free (Infants, primary school children, and junior high school students residing in Tokyo)

Website: http://teien.tokyo-park.or.jp/en/rikugien/

Kiyosumi Garden

An Edo-period merchant, a feudal lord, and the founder of Mitsubishi were the former owners of Kyosumi Garden. Its pond features three islands, a stepping stone pathway, and a Ryotei teahouse along its banks. Aside from being picturesque, this area also teems with life under and above the water. Bird watchers will have a field day observing a variety of visiting wild birds such as herons, bulbuls, and ducks.

Address: 3 chome Kiyosumi, Koto, Tokyo

Price: ¥150 (Adults), ¥70 (65 and over), Free (Infants, primary school children, and junior high school students residing in Tokyo)

Website: http://teien.tokyo-park.or.jp/en/kiyosumi/

Hamarikyu Garden

Located alongside Tokyo Bay, Hamarikyu Garden uses seawater to fill the numerous ponds that decorate its landscapes. Its main pond area is a relaxing natural scenery set against a backdrop of skyscrapers, highlighted by a bridge that connects the mainland to a teahouse in the middle of the said pond. Other interesting attractions to see here are Hamarikyu’s duck-hunting sites, a peony garden, and a 300-year old pine tree. The park also offers free guided tours in Japanese and in English. You may visit their website provided below for the schedules. 

Address: 1-1 Hama Rikyu-teien, Chuo, Tokyo

Price: ¥300 (Adults), ¥150 (65 and over), Free (Infants, primary school children, and junior high school students residing in Tokyo)

Website: http://teien.tokyo-park.or.jp/en/hama-rikyu/

Kyu Shibarikyu Garden

Kyu Shibarikyu Garden is one of the two remaining classical gardens previously owned by early Edo-period feudal clans. It follows the layout typical of traditional Japanese gardens – a large pond centerpiece, a walking trail that goes around it, and islands that are connected by bridges. It is meant to mimic the different landscapes in the world, so it is likewise adorned by rock formations, manmade waterfalls, and even a sandy bank on the northern and western shores of the pond.

Address: 1-4-1 Kaigan, Minato, Tokyo

Price: ¥150 (Adults), ¥70 (65 and over), Free (Infants, primary school children, and junior high school students residing in Tokyo)

Website: http://teien.tokyo-park.or.jp/en/kyu-shiba/

Koishikawa Korakuen

Being one of Tokyo’s oldest Japanese gardens, Koishikawa Korakuen exudes timeless beauty with its miniature versions of famous landscapes in China and Japan such as Lake Seiko, Togetsukyo Bridge, Byobu-Iwa rock formations, and Tsutenkyo Bridge. Its dense maple cover makes the park a candidate for the city’s best viewing sites for fall, while its plum and cherry trees impress during spring. It is the second of the two surviving Edo-period clan gardens in Tokyo alongside Kyu Shibarikyu Garden; first owned by Yorifusa, the founder of the Mito Tokugawa family.

Address: 1-6-6 Koraku, Bunkyo, Tokyo

Price: ¥300 (Adults), ¥150 (65 and over), Free (Infants, primary school children, and junior high school students residing in Tokyo)

Website: http://teien.tokyo-park.or.jp/en/koishikawa/

Kyu-Yasuda Teien Garden

Kyu-Yasuda Teien Garden is a small enclave in the Ryogoku neighborhood. Since the admission is free, it makes for a nice side trip when visiting the area’s more notable landmarks like the Edo-Tokyo Museum and the Sumo Hall. In the past, water from the nearby Sumida River feeds the pond causing the water level to change with the tides. Today, this tidal effect is artificially created using pumps. If you happen to visit in early August, you might catch the Noryo-no-yube. During this two-day celebration, the garden is used as a venue for floating lanterns, traditional music performances, and tea ceremonies.

Address: 1-12-1 Yokoami, Sumida, Tokyo

Price: Free of charge

Happouen

Happoen is described as the garden that is beautiful from all angles. This privately-owned property is a hotspot not just for sightseeing but also for special occasions like weddings and other banquets. Though situated in the business district of Minato, its hidden location provides its visitors a serene atmosphere to accompany its gorgeous views. You may even sign up for a guided tour or participate in a tea ceremony offered by the in-house teahouse Muan. For lunch and dinner, there’s a choice between two restaurants. Both have lovely garden views, but best to call in advance to check if there are no functions to be held during your time of visit.

Address: 1-1-1 Shirokanedai, Minato, Tokyo

Price: Free of charge

Website: http://happo-en.com/banquet/

Mejiro Teien

Though small in size, Mejiro Teien is a sight to behold especially during autumn nights. For one week starting on the last week of November, this garden is illuminated by colorful lighting displays that highlight the reflection of trees on the pond’s surface. The Friday, Saturday, and Sunday of this week-long event are also made more special by musical performances and tea ceremonies.

Address: 3-20-18 Mejiro, Toshima, Tokyo

Price: Free of charge, ¥200 Admission during Autumn Light-up Event and ¥1,000 if participating in events held at Akatorian (a building in Mejiro Teien garden)

Website: http://www.seibu-la.co.jp/mejiro-garden/ (Japanese only)

All price information are as of November 2016.

Thumbnail image is from Flickr.