Shinjuku Gyō-en National Garden

There’s a reason that Shinjuku Gyō-en is one of the most-visited gardens in Tokyo – it’s utterly amazing all year long. You can walk for hours, and around every turn is a new vista just begging your camera to click its shutter, or a lawn inviting you to kick back and forget that you’re surrounded by skyscrapers.

From the first awakenings of spring in February, the Japanese Garden delights with pink and white plum trees bursting into bloom
You might be there to see if any cherries are blooming yet in March, but even if there’s not a single pink tree yet, the quince will be putting on a display that will make you forget all about the famous fluffy things. Japanese quince flowers bloom a deep coral, then fade to white, making each bush a constant kaleidoscope of shifting color
But if you do happen to catch the early weeping cherries, prepare to have your socks knocked right off
At the height of the season, Shinjuku Gyō-en is unmatched in number and size and variety of cherry trees, making it one of the the most gorgeous (and visited) parks in Tokyo from late March to early April. Lines stretch out before the gates at opening time, and guards search bags before visitors are allowed to enter, because although picnicking is allowed, booze is not.
But if you miss the height of cherry blossom season (and the madness) you’re in luck, because the late-blooming cherry trees are unmatched through mid-April.
The azaleas come into their own at the end of April, and never fail to cheer with over-the-top magenta goodness
The trees begin to put on their fall colors from mid-October on, starting with the cherry trees and maples
Chrysanthemums begin to appear around the park as the leaves turn…
…leading up to astounding displays of bonsai chrysanthemums set up throughout the park for the month of November. (Believe it or not, each of those monsters is ONE PLANT!)
As fall dips into winter, the leaves just get better and better…
…and the park remains a soul-restoring oasis amid the crazy neon of Shinjuku

Hours: 9:00 – 17:00

Open: Every day except Dec 31 – Jan 1.

Admission: ¥500


Here’s more to do in the neighborhood, while you’re there:

Click here for more

Jonelle Patrick is the author of five novels set in Japan

For three hundred years, a missing tea bowl passes from one fortune-seeker to the next, changing the lives of all who possess it…read more

The Last Tea Bowl Thief was chosen as an Editor’s Pick for Best Mystery, Thriller & Suspense on Amazon

“A fascinating mix of history and mystery.” —Booklist

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