Shinjuku Gyoen – Tokyo’s Central Park

I was fortunate enough to take a quick weekend trip to Tokyo and while I was there visit Shinjuku Gyoen, a huge city park that is best described as Tokyo’s Central Park. It is in the Shinjuku district and can be reached easily by the Shinjukuchome subway station.

I was lucky to have a cousin visit Japan and she suggested we check out the park. I had seen it advertised but brushed it off thinking that it was just a park and that there was no need to see it. I’m glad she made the suggestion because the park was beautiful. After paying the nominal 200 yen fee to enter the park, we wandered the pathways which lead us throughout the Japanese style landscaped grounds. I am not very knowledgeable about the landscaping that is traditionally Japanese, but common elements include: large ponds with koi, bridges connecting small islands, perfectly sculpted trees/bushes which look like huge topiary bushes, Japanese maples and tea houses. We walked around most of the park and spent about an hour and a half to two hours there and it was great!

Skyscrapers framed the views of the park.

There were many families relaxing in the open areas.

Sculpted trees were everywhere.

There were a number of ponds with HUGE koi and bridges connecting small islands.

There was a traditional tea house that served hot green tea and a Japanese sweet for 700 yen. The sweet was thicker than icing with about the same consistency, and I believe part of it was red beans. I liked it, my cousin did not, and we ate it with what seemed to be a small stick with a pointed edge.

There was a traditional Chinese style wedding pavilion that was open to the public. It overlooked a pond.

The interior of the pavilion had wood carved details throughout.

The maple trees were amazing. We have Japanese maples in the states, but they are smaller plants which lie low to the ground. The maples in Gyoen were huge and I had never seen ones so big!

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