If you love formal Japanese gardens, we have to go to Rikugi-en! This garden was designed so the grand chamberlain’s aristocratic friends would discover 88 views from famous waka poems as they strolled around the pond.
Hours: 9:00 – 17:00 (last admission 16:30)
Open: Every day except 12/29-1/3
Rikugi-en is a great example of a garden designed to look different, but stunning, in every season.
In early April, the weeping cherry tree near the entrance draws record crowds of camera-toting visitors. Later that month, azaleas of all colors cover a steep hill just beyond the teahouse, and the round bushes dotting the grounds are ablaze with pink.
But my personal favorite time to see this garden is in the fall.
This garden is so famous for its brilliant autumn leaves and cherry blossoms that special evening hours are added in November and April so people can visit after work. The trees are lit up with spotlights so you can appreciate the colors, even after sundown.
During leaf season and cherry blossom season, they often have special food stands set up in the park, selling traditional foods like skewers of roasted mochi (sticky rice cakes) dipped in soy or miso sauce, and tonjiro (a hearty soup made with bacon and vegetables).
Nearby destinations: Ikebukuro, Koraku-en Garden, Koshinzuka Market, Nezu Shrine, Origami Center, Yasukuni Shrine, Yushima Shrine