A few meters from the busiest station in the world, Shinjuku Station, there is a place of peace in the middle of the hectic city.
Shinjuku Gyoen National Park is a large green area with beautiful landscapes that provide a sense of tranquility. The park was formerly the residence of a feudal lord during the Edo period. Then when the Meiji era arrived, it first became a botanical garden and later became a garden for the use of the Imperial family.
Normally when important people from abroad visited the country the area was used as a recreation area.
In 1906 the design of the complex was completed. Unfortunately the complex was almost totally destroyed by bombing by US forces in 1945. At the end of the war the place was gradually rebuilt and passed into the hands of the government. Therefore in 1949 Shinjuku Gyoen National Park was opened. Although the park became public property, its name is literally preserved as “Imperial Gardens”.
In 1989, the funeral rites of Emperor Hirohito were performed in this park. The park today has three sections. A Japanese style garden with a beautiful lake and a bridge that make a beautiful photographic postcard.
Then there is a spectacular French style garden and finally an exquisite English garden. The park has an area of 58.3 hectares with a circumference of 3.5 km. In the gardens there is a traditional Japanese tea house.
The garden has 1,500 cherry trees which are adorned with their vivid colors in late March or early April. During the cherry blossom season, the park is one of the public’s favorite places to perform hanami. Hanami literally means “to see the flowers”, it is a centuries-old tradition in Japan. Usually you go in a group or as a couple and have a picnic while observing the wonderful landscape created by the sakura (cherry) flowers.
It takes about two or three hours to get to know the whole park, and it is much better if you go on a sunny day.
A curious fact for anime fans is that Shinjuku Gyoen National Park was the main setting for the movie “The Garden of Words” and in real life you can visit the towns where the anime was based.
The park has a beautiful traditional Japanese tea house where you can enjoy a drink while looking at the landscape that shows the contrast between the big city and nature.
If nature and tranquility are akin to the visitor’s personality, then visiting Shinjuku Gyoen would be a delightful experience. The area is quite wide, therefore it is recommended to wear comfortable shoes and prepare to walk.
It’s a perfect place to talk quietly or perhaps take a break from busy Tokyo life.