Shinjuku Gyoen (新宿御苑)

One of my new year's resolutions - besides trying out new restaurants - is finally organizing all my travel pictures and putting them on my blog. I will start with the pictures I took in Shinjuku Gyoen park in Tokyo, Japan. I visited it for the first time in 2010 and besides taking pictures, I also made a short video. It is nothing much, just me taking you on a short walk in the calming Shinjuku Gyoen.    

 How to go to Shinjuku Gyoen

Since it was the first time I went to Japan, I primarily traveled on the JR line and I got out at Shinjuku station south exit. It was about a 10 min. walk from there, but somehow I got lost and I walked in circles for almost an hour, before I found the entrance. I thought that there would be a lot of signs leading to the entrance of the park, but there weren't any or they were really small, since I didn't see them at all. At a certain point, I even walked along the wall of the park to find the entrance. Luckily, we now have GPS on the mobile phone and this kind of thing can be avoided from now on.     

Recommended: take the Marunouchi line metro and get out at the Shinjuku Gyoen mae station exit one. It is only a 5 min. walk from there. It is a lot easier to find the entrance of the Shinjuku Gyoen this way. 

Shinjuku Gyoen (新宿御苑) 
Opening hours: 9:00 - 16:00 (final closing: 16:30)
Closed on Mondays
Admission: Adult 200 yen Child 50 yen

 Highlights of the Shinjuku Gyoen

I have to warn you that the park is really big. It took me hours to walk through the whole thing. For me, the highlights were the beautiful Japanese garden and the French rose garden. So, if you are short on time, you can just explore these two areas. But these two areas are still really big, so you should plan a short stop at the many rest places. Right at the entrance, there is also a large greenhouse with many tropical plants and flowers. I happened to go there during the renovation that went on for years and it was closed.    

Japanese traditional garden

In the Japanese traditional garden area, you will find many trimmed - bonsai tree style - bushes and trees. It is quite an amazing sight for someone like me, who is used to the normal trees in the Netherlands. There are also two tea houses, where you can enjoy the beautiful scenery and a cup of Japanese green tea.

Shinjuku Gyoen 新宿御苑 shaped bush
Shinjuku Gyoen 新宿御苑 shaped bushes

The Taiwan pavillion (kyu-goryo-tei) in the Japanese garden

Shinjuku Gyoen 新宿御苑 pavilion Japanese garden
Shinjuku Gyoen 新宿御苑 pavilion in rain

Rest place

Since it started to rain all of a sudden, I went to hide in one of the rest places. This is the view I got from one of the rest places in the middle of the park. It was so soothing, I almost didn't want to get back on my feet.

Shinjuku Gyoen 新宿御苑 rest place

Besides benches, there are also many drinks vending machines located there. You can choose from: tea, coffee, water, and sodas (120 yen or 150 yen). 

Shinjuku Gyoen 新宿御苑 drinks vending machines

Shinjuku Gyoen after the rain

When it cleared up, I walked around again and the flowers were covered with beautiful rain drops and the gloomy and foggy air made the pictures I took, look a bit mysterious.

Shinjuku Gyoen 新宿御苑 blue flowers

Shinjuku Gyoen 新宿御苑 long blue flowers

Shinjuku Gyoen 新宿御苑 tower

Shinjuku Gyoen 新宿御苑 tree

Shinjuku Gyoen 新宿御苑 trees

French formal garden

This is a beautiful, large rose garden with dozens kinds of roses in various colors and shapes. Rose fanatics would love to visit this place. I went there around late Summer and some of the flowers were already wilting and the heavy rain did some damage too. But I was still able to see many pretty roses.

Shinjuku Gyoen 新宿御苑 french formal garden
Shinjuku Gyoen 新宿御苑 yellow rose
Shinjuku Gyoen 新宿御苑 coral rose
Shinjuku Gyoen 新宿御苑 red rose
Shinjuku Gyoen 新宿御苑 red roses
Shinjuku Gyoen 新宿御苑 grouped pink roses
Shinjuku Gyoen 新宿御苑 pink roses
Shinjuku Gyoen 新宿御苑 yellow roses

What is the best time to visit Shinjuku Gyoen?

Opposite to the French formal garden - which is at its best in the middle of the summer- , is the English garden. It is a vast plain of green grass with many large trees up to 30 meters high. To me, it isn't that special, since I come from Europe and I am used to seeing something like this. But I can imagine that if you come from Asia, it is nice to experience how it is to lie down and have a picnic on green grass like in Hyde Park, London. In the summer, the large ponds in the Shinjuku park, will also be filled with beautiful white and pink water lilies.   

When you visit Shinjuku Gyoen around mid March - early April, you can do some sakura viewing. At the back of the park (close to Sendagaya gate, entrance/exit), there is a huge area filled with sakura trees (1300 sakura trees and 65 kinds). In Autumn, you can see beautiful red leaves on the trees, which is especially beautiful in the maple hill area nearby. In the vicinity, you can also find an azalea hill. If you like flowers, you might also like the yearly chrysanthemum exhibition, which is held yearly from 1 to 15 November in the Japanese garden. Sadly, I missed them, but there is always next time. 

In the winter, there will be less flowers and less greenery, but it is the best time for bird viewing, and if you are lucky, you might be able to capture a gorgeous snow scene.

Stark contrast

It is still hard to believe that you can find such a large and tranquil park in the middle of Shinjuku, a place concentrated with office buildings.

Shinjuku office buildings
Shinjuku office buildings night view
 Can you spot the moon?

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