French Formal Garden

A normal weekend living in Tokyo would often involve shopping, spending time at a café and taking a stroll or a picnic at the park. The latter has been always my choice as a nature lover myself. However, one would ask which place is ideal for such an activity. Worry no more because Tokyo has a numerous lists of parks and most of them are situated just at the heart of the metro.

Checking the parks lists online I realized I have never been in most of the parks listed other than Yoyogi Park, Futakotamagawa Park, Mizumoto Park and Rikugien Garden which was quite close to my place. The one that struck me the most is Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden located just a few minutes from Shinjuku JR Station. For a year and three months I have never gotten the chance or even the idea to visit this park.

Originated during the Edo Period as a residence of the Naito Daimyo clan, soon after it was transformed into a botanical garden. Later in 1903, it was transferred to the Imperial family who utilized it for recreation and entertainment venue for guests. After WWII, it was rebuilt and reopened to the public in 1949. This park covers 58.3 hectares so you could you just imagine the vastness of the area. Three different gardens comprise the park; the English Landscape, French Formal, Japanese Formal (teahouse) and Mother and Child.

Being known for its 1500 cherry trees (sakura trees) which is a perfect venue for its annual “hanami” viewing it never came to my mind to actually visit this park during such event. Its popularity among visitors is evident in the amount of images uploaded in various social media sites varying from each four seasons.

So, how did I really end up going to this park?

After a typical weekend lunch with my friends on a Saturday at one of the many busy restaurants around Shinjuku area made me decide to check the place since the weather was perfect for a stroll too. What is even surprising was we got in for FREE! Yes, you read that right. We did not bother to ask why and just went in immediately (just got lucky). The park that day was not that crowded mostly families were there and the view was too beautiful that I could not even think of a word to describe it. It was relaxing and undoubtedly refreshing for us since we all had a busy week at work. Perfect weekend indeed.

Walking through the different sections of the park, you can see various types of trees, ponds and bridges. But what I like the most was the French Formal which offers different types of roses. Most likely if you plan to visit the park, make sure to have a camera with you. Every area deserves to be captured. The serenity of the park will definitely leave you in awe. Either by just strolling the entire park, having picnic with family and friends or just simply relaxing under the shade of those gigantic trees, this park is truly worth a try. If you want to get rid of those negative energy from work stress or school project deadlines, the park will surely give you the break you need.

The park is open from 9:00 AM- 4:30 PM every day with an admission fee of 200 yen for 15 years old and over, 50 yen for 6-14 years old while its free for 5 years and below. However, when Monday falls on a national holiday, Tuesday is closed for visitors. Access to the park is very convenient since there are three gates leading to the park – Shinjuku Gate (JR Shinjuku Station), Okido Gate (Shinjukugyoenmae Station) and Sendagaya (JR Sendagaya Station).

We ended the day having coffee at a nearby Starbucks café close to Shinjuku Station. So, if you want to unwind and experience solitude without leaving Tokyo then this park is a best choice for you.