I didn’t discover this hidden gem among the Imperial Palace East Gardens (which I’d dismissed as boring! boring! boring! since I’d only been to the one on top of the stone wall), until I spied a shot of the lower garden during azalea season.
And once I started visiting it, I discovered that the Ni-no-maru garden is actually delightful in other seasons too. Because despite being in the midst of the Imperial Palace (one of the biggest tourist checklist destinations in Tokyo WHY?), the lower garden is always quiet and uncrowded. I mean, go figure.
Open: Every day except closed Mondays and Fridays, and Dec 28 – Jan 3
Hours: Apr-Aug 9:00 – 17:00, Sep-Oct 9:00 – 16:30, Dec-Feb 9:00 – 16:00
How to go to the Imperial Palace gardens
1: The Otemon Gate is closest to Ni-no-maru. Show the security staff the inside of your purse/backpack, then they’ll wave you through the giant gates.
2: Follow the signs to the checkpoint, where the uniformed guard behind the window will hand you a free plastic token. Be sure you keep track of where you put it, because you’ll have to hand it back on your way out.
3: Continue on past the treasure house museum, rest house and souvenir stand (and bathroom), and the old wooden building (all on your right). Follow the path as it U-turns around the big stone wall, pass the map (on your right), and you’ll soon come to the entrance to the Ni-no-maru lower garden.
4: The path will take you through a foresty bit before you reach the gardens proper.
5: If you want to see the upper gardens, go back out to the main, wide road and take any of the steep ramps heading up to your left
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