Amid the Tokyo metropolis, you can find large patches of green with people basking in the rays of sunlight, immersed in conversation and distracted from the bustling city. Sometimes, work and life become oh-so stressful and you may often forget to relax and take a break. This comes to the fore in the beginning of the new year, which coaxes you to examine your priorities and formulate resolutions. With this in mind, we’ve collected our lineup of parks in Tokyo, where you can take a mindfulness break as you refresh your mind, ground yourself in the fruits of nature, and embark on a peaceful introspective journey.
A fault line where a splendid verdancy emerges through the cracks of cemented streets, Yoyogi Park is centered between some of Tokyo’s most trendy and busy areas, namely Shibuya and Shinjuku. As one of Tokyo’s largest city parks, it offers diverse nature and experiences, covered in fields and forests dappled with ponds. The Fountain Pond, named for the large fountain at its center, is bordered by benches and shaded with a diverse green canopy of trees that include Japanese zelkovas and gingko. There are also areas for congregation along with expansive fields for picnicking. In all, the park offers visitors a chance to enjoy both peace and quiet as well as stimulation.
Closest Station: Harajuku Station
Shinjuku-gyoen National Garden
This garden is profuse with Edo-era history. It was originally the feudal Naitō family’s area of residence and was later turned into a public national park. Each season offers a diverse spectacle of colors, with an autumn palette of red, orange and yellow reborn into a vibrant green and pink during the spring months thanks to the more than 12 varieties of cherry trees within the garden. With its various fields, taking a stroll through the park is an unforgettably tranquil experience. Further, featuring over a century of horticulture work, the Shinjuku-gyoen Greenhouse displays a dazzling array of tropical and subtropical flora available for public viewing year round.
Closest Station: Shinjuku-gyoemmae Station
Diverging from the neon polychrome of Ueno-Akihabara with streets that gush with activity along the Ueno-Ameyokocho Shotengai, wayfarers can delight in the ample green and many activities available at Ueno Park. For those looking for more activity rather than tranquility, Ueno is perfect! From the zoo—which showcases successfully bred giant pandas—to temples, shrines, and museums, the park is definitely worth a day trip. The Shinobazu Pond can be found, which inspired many Edo-era artists and is resplendent with lotus flowers during the summer months.
Closest Station: Ueno Station
Not too far from the Imperial Palace in Chiyoda Ward, Hibiya Park is at the crux of Tokyo’s major business districts and accordingly is a favorite for businessmen looking to take a break from work life. This park is particularly famous for its open-air concert venue and its various tennis courts. There is also much to take in, with seasonal flowers, towering trees still holding onto their colors during the winter months, and a magnificent fountain at its center. Orbited by joggers moving along the streets near the Imperial Palace, offers a perfect repose for an eclectic range of Tokyoites.
Closest Station: Kasumigaseki Station
Showa Kinen Park
The Showa Memorial Park was opened in 1983 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Emperor Showa’s reign, and boasts a multihued variety of flora punctuated with sport facilities and museums. The National Showa Memorial is worth a stop, which displays the lives of different Japanese families during the 1940s. The park’s trees fade into autumn colors during early November, usually ahead of time compared to Tokyo’s other parks, making it a popular destination for those who love fall foliage. This park is also perfect for families, with ample activities for children, including a waterpark, a sports area, and a bonsai museum, which contains a play area.
Closest Station: Nishi-Tachikawa Station
These gardens are criminally overlooked by visitors, who unfortunately miss its mainstay, the tidal pool. Nestled at the mouth of the Sumida River and engulfed by Tokyo Bay, the Shioiri-no-ike tidal pond is the only remaining seawater pond from the Edo era. Park-goers searching for the pond enjoy the freshness of the sea air and the gentle ripples that wrinkle the water. On an island within the tidal pond, visitors can find a teahouse perfect for taking in the natural beauty of the park. Its popularity grows during February with the emergence of plum blossoms and late March, when the beloved cherry blossoms are on full display.
Closest Station: Yurikamome Shiodome Station
As Tokyo’s first suburban park, Inokashira Park is a perfect destination for those looking for activity during the weekends, especially alongside the tranquil Inokashira Pond at its center. During the spring season, the flora is characterized by faint blushing of pinks of cherry and plum trees. It also offers a variety of attractions: visitors can visit the Benzaiten Shrine, along with a petting zoo and an aquarium that children will surely enjoy. During the weekends, Tokyoites flood to the park where vendors, artists, and street performers set up shop. Also, just nearby is the Ghibli Museum in Kichijōji, which is perfect for anime lovers.
Closest Station: Kichijōji Station
Odaiba Kaihin Koen
Odaiba, popular for its entertainment and shopping districts, also boasts its own patch of greenery. The Odaiba Kaihin Koen is right on the edge of Tokyo Bay, with a full view of the Rainbow Bridge. As a green oasis in a busy district, this park also offers an opportunity for shoppers to decompress after traipsing through the island’s busy streets. The park also has its very own Statue of Liberty, a gift from France in celebration of the two countries' close ties. Although the park is accessible by train, be sure to check out the many water buses that stop by its shores!
Closest Station: Odaiba Kaihin Koen Station
Consecrated by the Meiji Shrine at its center, these gardens were erected to revere and commemorate the rule of Emperor Meiji. It leaves a lasting impression on visitors, with gingko trees that appear as if they were meticulously pruned and configured. Along with its natural beauty, there are sports facilities such as a track and field stadium and a sumo facility. And of course the shrine is a not-to-miss landmark and is a perfect example of the architectural beauty Japan offers, providing insights into the country’s aesthetic and historical traditions.
Closest Station: Gaiemmae Station
Built around Zōjōji Temple and boasting a full view of Tokyo Tower, Shiba Park is a bridge between the city experience and nature. Historically, Shiba is believed to be the first park to be designated as a “public park” in Japan. This destination is popular for those seeking spirituality, and for young people to bring their dates. Although often overlooked, these qualities impart this park its own special flavor.
Closest Station: Hamamatsuchō Station
Jake Benjamin Roiter