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Famous places
well known areas...

> in Tokyo
> Shibuya
> Shinjuku
> Harajuku
> Ginza
> Aoyama
> Tokyo Tower
> Asakusa
> Akihabara
> Ueno
> Ebisu
> ... and more.

> in Kyoto
> Kyoto, Higashiyama
> Arashiyama
> ... and more.

Photo: Shibuya Foodshow court. Giving it a deep thought and choosing the right kind of pastry is a national pastime.

Popular Themes
Japanese Pictures of...

> Japanese Fashion
> Japanese People
> Japanese Garden

The Shinkansen and the Japan train system

Japanese Architecture
Buddhist Temple, Shinto Shrine


Featured Travel Guide articles:

Japan Guide

Tokyo guide

 

Suggested Itinerary
photo guide by weeks

Week 1 - Tokyo
Week 2 - Tokyo,Kanto
Week 3 - Nikko
Week 4 - Tokyo
Week 5 - Kyoto
Week 6 - Osaka,Nara
Week 7 - Tokyo,Kanto
Week 8 - Hokkaido

Or click here for more detailed info on the tours.

 

 

/ back to the index of the
Tokyo Travel Guide

Tokyo Park and Garden guide
places to rest, play, study or admire the beauty of
Photo: Shinjuku Gyoen in downtown Tokyo
Shinjuku Gyoen
in downtown Tokyo
As opposed to the popular misrepresentation of Tokyo - again based on downtown scenes - there's quite a lot of green in the city. Which not only goes well with gray, but also serves as a great option if you're not up to leaving the city to lose the buildings out of sight. And with parks mentioned, the areas maintained to be closer to nature are in fact as large if not bigger than the surrounding districts of business or entertainment, and are mostly of great historic origin, preserving ancient buildings, historic treasures and of course age old trees and gardens that all have a story of their own.

But the best part is that such places are never too far away from where you are. Shinjuku Gyoen, probably the largest of all such parks is in fact right next to Shinjuku Station. Yoyogi koen and the Meiji Jingu gardens ( around the Meiji Jingu Shrine ) are in between Shibuya, Yoyogi and Harajuku. Only ten minutes away by foot from the liveliest places in the entire city, you'll find a contrast big enough to chill you to proper temperature and revitalize you for the rest of the day... or even week.

Photo: Ueno Koen ( park ), Tokyo, Japan
Ueno Koen
in downtown Tokyo

Basically there are two types of parks, public ( like Ueno koen ) and Imperial. This isn't an official categorization, but might as well be a good way to describe their origins in a single word. For imperial gardens are all maintained much more caringly, looked after with a closer eye and most importantly have an opening and a closing hour set to sunrise and sunset, in between which you can't remain within the walls. This might sound a bit overboard but once you visit them, and see how clean they're kept, you'll understand why this probably really is a good idea.

Imperial parks mostly are, and have always been around a shrine, resort or palace in relation to the Imperial Family, with most of them now being open to the public. For a hundred yen or so, you can enter at the gates, and apart from littering, biking, damaging plants, catching fish or smoking in non-designated places you're pretty much free to do whatever you'd like. Stroll around the beautiful scenes, sit down for a picnic, find a place to lay down and relax, and not at all rarely just enjoy an environment where you can read or study in a calm atmosphere. Shinjuku Gyoen for example features botanic gardens, traditional teahouses, entire areas themed after classic trends in garden planning such as the french and english style quarters, some souvenir shops and restaurants near the crossing of the main trails ( placed well so they'd not disturb the visitors ), a lot of clean toilets of course, and traditional flower arrangement arts among many other things. The Meiji Jingu inner gardens also give home to museums around its edges, a traditional teahouse in the middle and the shrine which is still an active place of worship.

Photo: Yoyogi  Koen, Tokyo, Japan
Yoyogi Koen
in downtown Tokyo

Some of the public parks are less strict, although might still have a closing hour, they allow people more freedom in exchange for being more spacious than traditional. Yoyogi koen for example is like any other park in the world where you'll find children running around the lakes, people listening to or even performing music, students in the middle of the rehearsal of a play, a makeshift outdoors painting class... and so on. On the far end of this type is probably Ueno koen which is never closed, gives home to a lot of museums, a concert hall, shrines, temples and even a zoo, but on the other hand is much less clean and refined.

Gardens like Rikugien and Hama-Rikyuu tend to fall into the first category in respect of being amazingly well maintained and closed after sunset, but since most of the strolls are limited in a way you can't just dash into any area you wish, are more like an attraction than a place to hang out. But are nonetheless beautiful places, perhaps more ideal for artists, tourists or fans of Japanese culture than a park, and less ideal for a date or looking for entertainment.

Photo: Rikugien gardens, Komagome, Tokyo, Japan
Rikugien garden
in Komagome, Tokyo

In either park and garden you'll find the characteristic admiration of natural beauty, along with the traditional architecture that has always been meant to fit into the scenery rather than being overly ornamented. Perhaps some might say that the scenery is itself artificial in a way, as Japanese gardens have always tended to be giving off a well planned feel. Just a random opinion on this, but if the environment meant to appeal to people for their mental well-being is artificial, the same would go to any environment planned by any other being, from a bird's nest to coral reefs.

And for those who are concerned about when to visit... apart from January and February, probably anytime is fine. Tokyo in general has a weather of its own, which will leave you wondering why trees will not change their colors until mid-November and only start to lose their leaves by the end of fall. Scenes in the autumn of tree groves turning from green to vibrant yellow, and from yellow to deep red are just as often depicted in art as the cherry blossoms of April to May. When the weather is fine, be prepared to share the experience with others as well. Not that you'll mind to do so, for people who take their time to visit a park during such natural festivals are all amused by the very same beauty as you are and are respectful of others trying to admire the scenery.

Japan Guide

- Japan Visa, border entry, what to bring and be prepared with
- Japanese maps, Navi mobile navigation, easy orientation for travelers
- Convenience stores, the resupply stations that sell everything
- Japanese Vending machines, for drinks, tickets, cigarettes and more
- Japanese Food, and all kinds of food in Japan, restaurants, fast food, cheap food...

Tokyo guide

- Tokyo - as we see it - introduction
- Budget Tokyo apartment rental, accommodation, let go of the concern
- Tokyo Prices, the real cost vs. western legends, how to make most of your budget
- Cheap Tokyo Stores, bargain tips, where to find what, fashion to electronics
- Tokyo Cafe life, a guide to Cafes serving as meeting points, hangouts and life-savers
- Tokyo Parks and Gardens, well maintained icons of tranquility, tradition or having fun
- The Tokyo crowd... escaping from Tokyo to Tokyo, evading downtown rushhours


On the picture:  Takebayashi dori, Arashiyama, Kyoto, Japan
Kyoto - Arashiyama
( Temple and shrine gardens, amazing walkways and parks in between )

If you're interested in parks and gardens, or even national gardens and nature in Japan,
Just Click
on any thumbnail to see the photo albums which have such pictures in them. Exploring Japan through things you like might be a good idea after all...

"Koen" means public park.
"Gyoen" means Imperial park.

On the picture: Shinjuku Gyoen Imperial Park, Tokyo, Japan
Tokyo - Shinjuku
( Shinjuku Gyoen, Imperial park )

On the picture: Shinkyo bridge in Nikko, Japan
Nikko
( The temple district, forests and waterfalls in the Nikko National Park )

On the picture:  Todai-ji Buddhist temple, Kagami-ike ( mirror pond ), Nara, Japan
Nara
( Nara Koen, with its famous temples and the deers mixing with visitors )

On the picture:  Kibune, Kyoto, Japan
Kyoto - Kibune
( Northernmost Kyoto, forest hikes, shrines, spa and traditional resorts )

On the picture: Rikugien gardens, Komagome, Tokyo, Japan
Parks and Gardens album
( Digest picture guide from all over Japan... for not so curoius people :P )

On the picture:  Hama-Rikyu Japanese gardens, Shinbashi, Tokyo, Japan
Tokyo - Shinbashi
( The Hama-Rikyu Teien, a less known Japanese garden in Tokyo )

On the picture:  Rikugien  gardens, Komagome, Tokyo, Japan
Tokyo - Rikugien
( A beautiful traditional Japanese garden complex in Komagome, Tokyo )

On the picture: Ueno Koen ( park ), Tokyo, Japan
Tokyo - Ueno
( Ueno Koen, and its museums, shrines, teples... and zoo )

On the picture: Arashiyama, Kyoto, Japan
Kyoto - Arashiyama
( We cannot emphasize enough how beautiful it is... here's another pic )

On the picture:  Camphor tree in the front of a Buddhist temple in Higashiyama, Kyoto, Japan
Kyoto - Higashiyama
( The eastern district of Kyoto, huge temple gardens and calm parks )

On the picture:  Girls cheering  performing amateur boyband, Yoyogi  Koen, Tokyo, Japan
Tokyo - Yoyogi
( A livelier Yoyogi Koen and the calm Meiji Jingu Inner Gardens )

On the picture:  Chuzenji Lake, Nikko, Japan
Nikko
( Again, we'd just... like to be sure you saw the Nikko album )

On the picture:  Yamashita koen (park), Yokohama, Japan
Yokohama
( The Yamashita Koen with its attractions, and the Harbour View Park )

On the picture:  Aomori park, Tohoku, Japan
Aomori
( A glimpse of Aomori Koen, in one of the coldest winter for decades )

On the picture:  Okunoyu volcanic lake in Noboribetsu, Hokkaido
Noboribetsu, Hokkaido
( Volcanos, volcanic lakes and spas in the middle of winter landscapes )

On the picture:  Aoyama, Tokyo, Japan
Tokyo - Aoyama
( If you ever wodered whether there's an Outer Meiji Jingu Garden... )

On the picture:  Kamakura beach, Japan
Kamakura
( The beaches of Sugami bay )

On the picture:  Nippon Budokan, Kitanomaru Koen, Tokyo, Japan
Tokyo - Kitanomaru
( The Kitanomaru Koen, giving home to the Budokan and museums )

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