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When you visit Japan, the parks in Tokyo are worth taking time to explore. They provide peaceful green sanctuaries in which people seek refreshment from the city’s exciting bustle, and they represent the heart of Japan’s love of natural beauty. Here are the 5 best parks in Tokyo:
- Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden is a gorgeous urban oasis among the skyscrapers, a mere ten-minute walk from Asia’s busiest transport hub, Shinjuku Station. This imperial garden, originally built for royalty and then rebuilt by the Japanese government after the second world war, features landscaping in French formal and English landscape styles as well as a traditional Japanese section. During cherry blossom season, the park’s 1500 cherry trees of different varieties draw crowds from all over Japan.
- Yoyogi Park is the fashion parade ground for the trendy Harajuku district. The theatrical style extravaganza here on weekends usually defies description, with young people in costumes ranging from anime characters to Elvis-type leather jackets and poodle skirts. The park is an open rehearsal space for bands and theater troops, and each visit will yield an unpredictable artistic experience.
- The Nature Education Park in Shirokanedai is 50 acres of carefully-maintained primal Japanese forest. Only 300 visitors at a time are allowed into this ecological preserve, a chunk of forest and marsh-land that was once part of a 17th-century feudal estate. English-language brochures are available to describe the huge array of rare flora and fauna thriving in this patch of urban wilderness. Outside the Nature Education Park are the lawns and sculpture garden belonging to Tokyo’s Metropolitan Teian Art Museum.
- Rinshi no Mori Park was originally an experimental nursery, established in 1900 for purposes of forestry research. When the forestry agency changed the location of their facilities, Rinshi no Mori was opened up to the public. Over the years, some of the trees have become giants, with trunks measuring over 9 feet in circumference, and many are rare or endangered species that grow in few other locations. Rinshi no Mori Park also features streams and ponds, a toddler wading pool and a day campground.
- Rikugien Garden was built 300 years ago for a Shogun of the Edo period, and its name means “Six Poems Garden.” The trails and bridges of Rikugien wander around the lovely central pond, and feature 88 different miniature scenes depicting specific historic poems. Nurtured by the Japanese government as a special site of scenic beauty, the garden offers a new artistic view from each turn in the path. Visitors can pause for a refreshing cup of tea and a chance to feed the giant koi in the ponds.
Image by Daderot, via Wikimedia Commons