Shinjuku Gyoen is one of the largest and most popular parks in Tokyo and known not only for its spacious lawns and tranquil scenery, but for its beautiful sakura blossoms in spring. The park originated during the Edo Period (1603-1867) as a feudal lord’s Tokyo residence and was later on transferred to the Imperial family, who used it for recreation and entertainment. It was almost completely destroyed during the second World War, but was rebuilt and reopened in 1949 as a public park.
The park has three different types of gardens: the traditional Japanese landscape garden, which consists of large ponds with islands and bridges and the French garden and the English landscape garden which feature wide, open lawns surrounded by flowering cherry trees. There is a good amount of benches and tables in the park to enjoy a picnic. The rest of the park has forested areas, as well as a greenhouse with a variety of tropical and subtropical flowers.
Shinjuku Gyoen is also a popular destination during autumn, because of the different types of trees that change colors in autumn. There are more than a dozen different varieties of cherry trees, and more than 400 somei yoshino trees around the English garden, making the area as a popular hanami spot.
If you’re planning to visit, the park has three gates: Shinjuku Gate, Okido Gate and the Sendagaya Gate. Shinjuku Gate is a ten minute walk from the new south exit of JR Shinjuku Station and a five minute walk from Shinjukugyoenmae Station on the Marunouchi Subway Line. Okido is five minutes away from Shinjukugyoenmae Station on the Marunouchi Subway Line while Sendagaya Gate is also five minutes away from HR Sendagay Station on the local Chuo/Sobu Line.
The park is open from 9AM to 4:30PM and is closed on Mondays except during the cherry blossom season.