A Break at Shinjuku Park before Exploring Nearby Tourist Attractions

Tokyo is known for its busy city life that, interestingly, can be described to be a pleasantly controlled chaos. As such, the city also has a few hidden gems here and there which offer locals and tourists a pleasant escape from all urban lifestyle, without having to actually leave the city.

Among the best places to avoid the hustle and bustle of Tokyo while still taking in its beauty is the Shinjuku Park, a large park that houses several walking paths and spacious lawns.

Overview & Brief History of Shinjuku Park in Tokyo, Japan

By KimonBerlin (https://www.flickr.com/photos/kimon/5651880917/) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

The Shinjuku Park, or better known as Shinjuku Gyoen by the locals, stands among the most popular and largest city parks of Tokyo, Japan. It is located just a few hundred meters away from the Shinjuku Station, making it a great stopover for those who want a quick break and simply breathe in the hardly noticeable tranquil atmosphere of Tokyo.

According to records, the Shinjuku Park dates back to as far as the Edo Period when it originally served as the residence of one of Tokyo’s feudal lords. Come 1903, the area was then developed into a botanical garden for recreational and entertainment purposes of the Imperial Family’s guests.

During the war, the site nearly got destroyed but was fortunately rebuilt during the 1940s. In 1949, it finally reopened its doors to the public as the Shinjuku Park known by many today.

The Gardens of Shinjuku Park

By Rob Young from United Kingdom (Rose Garden @ Shinjuku Gyoen) [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

The Shinjuku Park remains true to its roots by housing three stunning gardens, namely:

Japanese Landscape Garden

The Japanese Landscape Garden of the Shinjuku Park is the oldest of the three. It houses a number of large ponds, which feature bridges and islands. These ponds are surrounded by well-maintained trees and shrubs, alongside a few pavilions.

During the month of November, particularly the first two weeks, a flower exhibit is held at the Japanese Landscape Garden which consists of temporarily erected pavilions and chrysanthemum displays.

French Garden and English Landscape Garden

The French Garden and English Landscape Garden offer more symmetrical designs compared to the Japanese Landscape Garden. As implied by their names, both of these gardens were designed using Western-style gardening approaches and feature a lot of open lawns. Flowering cherry trees surround these wide spaces.

As for the other parts of the Shinjuku Park, visitors can expect to come across many more forested areas and spacious lawns, alongside an art gallery and a restaurant. The park also houses a stunning greenhouse where various subtropical and tropical flowers can be appreciated up close.

Given that the Shinjuku Park houses quite a large number of cherry trees, tourists should expect it to get significantly crowded during the cherry blossom season, i.e. from late-March to early-April. The English Landscape Garden, in particular, serves as the favorite spot of many visitors for hanami (cherry blossom viewing) picnics.

The Shinjuku Park also welcomes more visitors during the autumn season when the leaves of its countless trees turn into different shades of yellow, orange, and red. These colors, collectively referred to by the Japanese community as “koyo”, are just as stunning as the blooming cherry blossoms of spring and typically start to show by mid-November.

More Information on Shinjuku Park – Map & Access, Hours, Etc.

Since the Shinjuku Park covers a relatively large area, the park has been designed to feature a total of three entrance gates.

The easiest way to access the park is through the Shinjuku Gate, which is just ten minutes away from the JR Shinjuku Station’s New South Exit or just five minutes away from the Marunouchi Subway Line’s Shinjuku gyoen mae Station, by foot.

Similarly, the Shinjuku gyoen mae Station is also just a 5-minute walk away from the Okido Gate of the Shinjuku Park. Alternatively, tourists can also choose to get off at the JR Sendagaya Station of the Chuo Line to reach the Sendagaya Gate within five minutes by foot.

The Shinjuku Park is open to the public from 9:00 Am to 4:30 PM, but only allows visitors to enter the vicinity until 4:00 PM. It is closed every Monday or on Tuesdays if a national holiday falls on Monday. Similar to other parks, it is also closed during the New Year holidays, i.e. from December 29 to January 3.

During the cherry blossom season and the Chrysanthemum Exhibition, the Shinjuku Park does not observe any closing days.

All throughout the year, an admission fee of 200 yen per person is observed by the park.

Address: 11 Naito cho, Shinjuku, Tokyo Prefecture, Japan 160-0014

Other Attractions near Shinjuku Park

Since the Shinjuku Park is bordered by the JR Chuo Line, JR Yamanote Line, and JR Saikyo Line, tourists can easily make their way to different parts of Tokyo before or after exploring the park. Some of the must-visit attractions situated relatively near the Shinjuku Park include:

Ginkgo Avenue

By nakashi [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Ginkgo Avenue, which also goes by the name Icho Namiki, is one of the most popular streets of Tokyo which is lined by the city’s official tree, the ginkgo, on either side. From late-November to early-December, a lot of locals and tourists make their way through the avenue to appreciate the lovely koyo (autumn colors) of Japan.

Hours: Not applicable

Admission Fee: Not applicable

Address: 1-1 Kasumi Gaoka Machi, Shinjuku, Tokyo Prefecture, Japan 160-0013

Meiji Shrine

The Meiji Shrine, or Meiji Jingu, is a relatively young shrine that was only completed during the year 1920, a few years after the passing of Empress Shoken and Emperor Meiji, both of whom the shrine is dedicated to.

It is located right beside the Yoyogi Park and the Harajuku Station of the JR Yamanote Line. The shrine offers visitors with various walking paths to explore, all of which feature stunning nature views that provide a pleasant break from Tokyo’s highly urbanized atmosphere.

Hours: Open from sunrise to sunset

Admission Fee: No admission fee

Address: 1-1 Yoyogikamizono Cho, Shibuya, Tokyo Prefecture, Japan 151-0052

Yoyogi Park

Yoyogi Park, also known as Yoyogi Koen, is among the largest city parks housed by Tokyo. Its massive space features several forested areas, ponds, and wide lawns, all of which make for a relaxing day amidst the typically busy atmosphere of the metropolis.

Compared to other parks, the Yoyogi Park has fewer cherry trees. Nonetheless, hundreds of locals and tourists still make their way to the park during the spring season for hanami (cherry blossom viewing) picnics.

The park can also get quite crowded during the autumn season when its ginkgo trees turn into lovely shades of red, orange, and yellow, giving the Yoyogi Park a golden hue.

Hours: No closing hours

Admission Fee: No admission fee

Address: 2-1 Yoyogi Kamizono Cho, Shibuya, Tokyo Prefecture, Japan 151-0052

Nezu Museum

By Kentin [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], from Wikimedia Commons

The Nezu Museum can easily be reached from the Omotesando Station by simply taking a 10-minute walk away from the exit. It houses a rather extensive collection of East Asian and Japanese works of art, most of which are related to Chinese bronzes and tea ceremonies.

Aside from exhibits, visitors can also enjoy strolling through a small forest and a massive garden which house a number of tea houses and a charming pond.

Hours: 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM, daily; Closed on Mondays and New Year Holidays

Admission Fee: 1,000 yen per person; 1,300 yen per person (During Special Exhibitions)

Address: 6-5-1 Minami Aoyama, Minato, Tokyo Prefecture, Japan 107-0062

Roppongi Hills

The Roppongi Hills is situated within the Roppongi District, making it a great example of a city within another city. It just opened its doors to the public during the year 2003 but has easily become a crowd-favorite for the seemingly countless activities it has to offer.

Some of the notable points of interest housed by the massive complex include apartments, office spaces, restaurants, an observation deck, and even a hotel. Most of the offices housed at the building are occupied by the leading IT and finance companies of Japan. As such, Roppongi Hills has become a symbol for the booming industry of the country.

Specific areas of the Roppongi Hills that tourists should make a point to visit include:

  • Mori Art Museum

The Mori Art Museum is a unique museum in the sense that it houses a wide array of artworks that range from traditional paintings to innovative pieces. It features a generally modern atmosphere and architectural design, both of which greatly contribute to its welcoming ambiance.

Hours: 10:00 AM – 10:00 PM, from Wednesdays to Mondays; 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM, on Tuesdays

Admission Fee: Varies from exhibition to exhibition

Address: 6-10-1 53f Roppongi, Minato, Tokyo Prefecture, Japan 106-6150

  • Mori Garden

The Mori Garden is a charming little oasis located right between the skyscrapers that make up the Roppongi Hills. It features a traditional Japanese-style design that many landscape gardens of Japan exhibit.

During the cherry blossom season (late-March to early-April), the garden can get quite crowded with locals and tourists looking to enjoy the lovely blooms.

Hours: 7:00 AM – 11:00 PM, daily

Admission Fee: No admission fee

Address: 6-10 Roppongi, Minato, Tokyo Prefecture, Japan 106-6108

  • Mori Tower

The Mori Tower is an impressive 54-story building that is aptly named after the company and man who had it built. The top six floors of the tower house a stunning art museum and observation deck, while the first few floors are home to various restaurants and shops.

As for the floors in between the two sections, offices of various Japanese companies occupy all 43 floors.

Hours: Varies from store to store

Admission Fee: No admission fee

Address: 1-9-10 Roppongi, Minato, Tokyo Prefecture, Japan 106-0032

  • Tokyo City View

The Tokyo City View refers to the observation deck of the Mori Tower. This area features high ceilings and walls all made out of glass. As such, the Tokyo City View is among the best places for tourists to get breathtaking views of the entire city below.

There is also a rooftop deck known as the Sky Deck located above the Tokyo City View, which may be accessed when the weather is good.

Hours: 10:00 AM – 11:00 PM, from Mondays to Thursdays and on Sundays; 10:00 AM – 1:00 AM, on Fridays and Saturdays

Admission Fee: 1,800 yen per person; 500 yen per person (additional fee for access to Sky Deck)

Address: 6-10-1 Roppongi, Minato, Tokyo Prefecture, Japan 106-6182

  • TV Asahi Headquarters

The TV Asahi Headquarters is basically a massive atrium that welcomes the public to explore its different areas and know more about the network’s past and current programs. It also houses a shop within its property where visitors can purchase various TV Asahi novelty products.

Hours: 10:00 AM – 7:00 PM, daily

Admission Fee: No admission fee

Address: 6-9-1 Roppongi, Minato, Tokyo Prefecture, Japan 106-8001

  • Shinjuku Skyscraper District

The Shinjuku Skyscraper District can be located to the west of the Shinjuku Station. As its name implies, the area is home to several skyscrapers such as the Hyatt Regency, Hilton Hotel, Keio Plaza, Park Hyatt, and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building.

Some of these skyscrapers have a wide array of restaurants and shops in store for tourists to explore and enjoy, while others offer spacious observation decks for visitors to be able to appreciate the wonders of Tokyo from a different perspective.

Hours: Not applicable

Admission Fee: Not applicable

Address: Nishi Shinjuku, Shinjuku 160-0023, Tokyo Prefecture, Japan

Hotels near Shinjuku Park

Given the scale of Tokyo City and the practically endless amount of attractions it houses for foreign travelers to gain a better understanding of Japan’s history and culture, choosing to stay the night (at least) at one of Tokyo’s many lodging options is a really good idea. This way, not everything has to be fitted into a day trip, eliminating the hassle of following a crazy itinerary.

Some of the best hotel and traditional Japanese inn (ryokan) options worth considering include the Cerulean Tower Tokyu Hotel, the ANA InterContinental Tokyo, the Hotel Gracery Shinjuku, the APA Hotel Shinjuku-Kabukicho Tower, the Ascott Marunouchi Tokyo, the Shiba Park Hotel, the Citadines Central Shinjuku Tokyo, the Rihga Royal Hotel Tokyo, and the Hyatt Regency Tokyo.