Visiting Tokyo in 35+ degree weather makes playing tourists difficult, especially in the high humidity. Luckily, Tokyo has no shortage of gardens and parks that allow you to cool off and escape the hustle and bustle of the city! What makes Tokyo so special is the blend of old and new. Modern skyscrapers surround city parks full of history, temples from an era long gone and bridges to help transport you through time.
Ueno Koen, Tokyo’s first western style park, was first opened to the public in 1873. A definite highlight of this park is the Shinobazu pond. Half of the pond is filled with people enjoying a relaxing afternoon in row boats and the other half is filled with a blanket of lilies so large you can’t help but think they are from Wonderland! The park is particularly famous for its many museums as it is home to the Tokyo National Museum, National Science Museum, Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum and the National Museum of Western Art- and don’t forget about Ueno Zoo! In addition there are many great temples and shrines to explore, such as Kiyomizu Kannon Temple, Toshogu Shrine, Bentendo Temple Hall and the Kaneiji Temple, which was once on the cities largest and wealthiest temples. Cherry blossom trees line many of the paths, making it a great location for cherry blossom season.
Imperial Palace Grounds
While none of the main buildings remain, the Imperial Palace still houses a moat, several guardhouses and entrance gates. With a lovely Japanese garden and lawns perfect for a picnic, the Imperial Palace Grounds a lovely spot to enjoy the tranquility of a garden and the views of skyscrapers in the distance.
Shinjuku Gyoen, despite being popular with both tourists and locals, still manages to be beautifully serene. As one of Tokyo’s largest parks, Shinjuku Gyoen features many different gardens. Sprawling English landscape gardens lead to Japanese and French style gardens. There is also a greenhouse, which is home to many tropical flowers and plants. With many cheery blossom trees, Shinjuku Gyoen is one of the best places to enjoy cherry blossom season.
Before I went to Japan my friends all encouraged me to visit Harajuku, particularly Takeshita Street. However, my favourite part of Harajuku was Yoyogie Park. Originally the site for the Olympic Village of the 1964 Olympic Games is a great place to enjoy the lawns, ponds and forested areas that hide away the rest of the city. Particularly beautiful is the Meiji Shrine, a Shinto shrine dedicated to the spirits of Emperor Meiji and his wife Empress Shōken. The ginko tree forrest makes Yoyogie Park the perfect place to view the autumn foliage as the tress transform when the leave turn red and gold.