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Generally, when we talk about Japanese gardens, people probably think of Kyoto’s shrines and temple grounds. Not many would imagine that Tokyo, a megapolis, would have luscious green gardens hidden among its tall buildings. Following Kyoto’s steps, Tokyo began building Japanese gardens within its walls. Most of them were created by the Tokugawa family  and feudal lords as a recreational place that surrounds their mansions. One of the most common feature of these Japanese gardens is a pond in the center of the compound, surrounded by lush flora like pine, maple, and cherry trees and flowering bushes like azaleas as well as stones or boulders to bring in part of nature to the mansions of these aristocrats.  

In this article, we’ll talk about the best 7 Japanese gardens that you’ll find in Tokyo. 

1.Hamarikyu Gardens



Hidden within Tokyo’s skyscrapers, this Japanese garden was originally built by the Tokugawa family as a hunting grounds for hawks. The garden was completed during the Ienari Tokugawa’s time, who was the 11th shogun of the Tokugawa shogunate. This is one of the grandest gardens built by a Japanese aristocrat. When the seasons change, the garden changes along with it as some flowers fade and new ones bloom.  The huge flourishing grounds serves as an oasis to the tall buildings built around it. Visitors can also take in the scenery with a cup of matcha at the tea house in the gardens.   


7-minute walk from Shiodome station on the Yurikamome line or Tsukiji-Ichiba station (E18) and Yurikamome station (E19) on the Toei Oedo line
12-minute walk from Shinbashi station (G08, A10) either on the JR line, Tokyo Metro Ginza line or Toei Asakusa line


2.Rikugien Garden



This garden was built by the 5th Tokugawa shogun, Tsunayoshi, at his residence. It’s a unique garden because it captures  the literary elements behind a waka poem.  Its open grounds bring forth a sense of serenity with a touch of fineness. During autumn, when the leaves start to change, visitors come not only during the day but also at night when the trees are lit up to enjoy their beauty. 


10-minute walk from Komagome station either on the Tokyo Metro Namboku line or JR Yamanote line


3.Koishikawa Korakuen Garden



Right next to Tokyo Dome, this garden was built by Mito Mitsukuni from the Mito Komon household.  With a lake in the middle of the garden, the landscape surrounding the pond sees miniature hills rolling over it that visitors can enjoy while walking along the garden’s path. Strongly influenced by Confucius, Mitsukuni brought in elements from the mountains, rivers, and lakes to the garden. Rikugien Garden’s open landscape with its different elements working harmoniously is a definite must-see.   


3-minute walk from Iidabashi station (E06)’s C3 exit on the Toei Oedo line
8-minute walk from Iidabashi station’s East exit on the JR Sobu line
8-minute walk from Iidabashi station (T06, Y13, N10)’s A1 exit either on the Tokyo Metro Tozai line, Yurakucho line or Namboku line
8-minute walk from Korakuen station (M22, N11)’s Central exit either on the Tokyo Metro Marunouchi line or Namboku line


4.Kiyosumi Garden



Kiyosumi Garden was built by a famous Edo merchant and the garden surrounds his mansion. During the Great Kanto Earthquake, half of this garden’s grounds was used as an evacuation center. Since there are many sakura trees planted on the grounds, this garden is a popular spot for visitors to view the beautiful blossoms during spring.  


3-minute walk from Kiyosumi Shirakawa station (E14, Z11) either on the Toei Oedo line or Tokyo Metro Hanzomon line


5.Kyu Shiba Rikyu Garden



This garden was built by a famous feudal lord at his residence during the early period of the Edo era. The lake at the center of the garden is surrounded by Japanese black pine trees, luscious azaleas, and boulders. One of special features of this garden is called Karetaki, a composition of stones that represents a waterfall.  


1-minute walk from Hamamatsucho station’s North exit either on the JR Yamanote line or Keihin Tohoku line
3-minute walk from Daimon station (E20) on the Toei Oedo line
3-minute walk from Daimon station (A09) on the Toei Asakusa line
10-minute walk from Takeshiba station on the Yurikamome line


6.Mukojima-Hyakkaen Garden



When the merchants and artisans began to amass more wealth and social stature in the late Edo period, a famous merchant built this garden. The garden captures a different, more muted atmosphere from those that are built at residences of samurai warriors. The highlight of the garden is its luscious flower bed that changes with the seasons.  This well-loved garden among Japanese poets shows off stone carvings that display poems written by various people.


8-minute walk from Higashi-Mukojima station on the Tobu Skytree line
13-minute walk from Keisei-Hikifune station on the Keisei Oshiage line
2 to 3-minute walk from Hyakkaen bus stop on the Toei bus route from Kameido to Nippori (Sato 22)  


7.Tonogayato Garden



 This garden was newly built during the Taisho period to replicate the gardens of feudal lords, complete with walking paths and fountains. In autumn, the garden provides breathtaking views of leaves changing colors among the decorative boulders.  This garden is well-known for its aesthetic appeal with its vibrant autumn leaves, bamboo groves and springs. 


2-minute walk from Kokubunji station either on the JR Chuo line, Seibu Kokubunji line or Seibu Tamako line


Aren’t you amazed now at what a metropolis like Tokyo can offer you? Even among its skyscrapers and densely populated buildings, you can find green lush gardens. These green oases provides visitors time and space to relax, even for tourists that come from near and far. 

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