Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden

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Things to do


Date of travel

March, 2016

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Reasons for trip

It was a relatively long but straightforward walk from our Tokyo hotel to the “Shinjuku Gyoen National Gardens”: Having paid the entrance fee (¥200 or £1.30) and picked up a good English map we set off heading first for the Mother and Child’s Forest where cherry trees were in early blossom.

We passed camellias in full bloom and other plants and bushes we didn’t know the name of on our way to the Traditional Japanese Garden with its well clipped bushes, ponds and bridges. The Chrysanthemum field judging by the map was a fairly significant part of the garden, but for some reason wasn’t open to the public.

We eventually came to the Taiwan Pavillion before passing through Azalea Hill, Maple Hill and a number of ponds. At Cherry Area a few more trees were in early blossom and a significant number of mainly male Japanese visitors had huge cameras. One of the spectacular features were two avenues of bare sycamore trees but the roses in the French Formal Garden were yet to bloom. The English Landscape Garden was disappointingly an open patch of grass for picnics although ball games were prohibited, nobody for cricket we thought.

Finally there was a spectacular greenhouse originally built in the late 1800s. Most of it and the plants were lost to air raids in World War II but it had been restored in 1955 and more latterly in 2012. Each area had a theme: arid land plants, tropical mountain plants, pond and marsh plants. It was so humid that I had to keep wiping the camera lens as it kept misting up – it also played havoc with my hair which turned into a mass of curls.

Around the gardens were numerous loos, a feature across all our venues, although the tea houses only had vending machines presumably because of the season.

Bearing in mind how much we paid, the diverse, easily navigable gardens were excellent value for money. And most importantly, there were plenty of seats for a rest.

Helen Jackson

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