Photo:Kakidai on Wikimedia Commons

Kiyosumi Gardens–A Hidden, Peaceful Paradise of Tokyo

Hidden in the middle of a busy city lies Kiyosumi Gardens.

A hidden, peaceful paradise. Full of trees, plants, a large pond and some interesting and cute animals.

The garden is known for its wide array of stones, of all sizes and shapes. It is said the garden dates back to the Edo-period and was a former mansion site of a wealthy man named Kinokuniya Buzaemon in 1716. Then in 1878 Iwasaki Yataro (the founder of Mitsubishi) purchased the land and turned it into a place of recreation for his employees and distinguished guests. It was decorated with valuable stones collected from all over the country. The full story is in the leaflet you can collect for free upon entering. They provide this leaflet in different languages English, Japanese, Chinese. There is also a signboard by the ticket booth with a map of the garden and its history in greater detail.

Once you have purchased your ticket at the low price of 150 yen per-person and walked through the gate, the feeling you get as you enter the garden is like entering something out of a Studio Ghibli film ‘My Neighbour Totoro’. It has fairytale beauty and wide open spaces.

Greenery surrounds you, that makes you question how it could be so hidden from the surrounding city area. (The surrounding area itself is worth exploring as I had to walk down a street lined with quirky and interesting scarecrows, some taking form as the Genie from Aladdin and Queen's Freddie Mercury, also small shrines and temples).

Stepping stones act as the main pathways and gave a childlike excitement, wanting to hop from one to the other as you descend closer to the pond. Once down by the water you will notice all sorts of creatures swimming around and a snapping turtle may even surface to say hello. They are very interested in human visitors, so getting close to them isn’t an issue, although I'd advise against trying to touch one, you may lose a finger or two. Ducks, large fish and even storks are also seen in the gardens. Along with all sorts of insects, large dragonflies, butterflies, beetles. You are able to walk across the water by large stepping stones and small bridges take you to little islands.

A large building sits out onto the pond and can be rented out for gatherings, weddings and other occasions. A cafe is also present although I had brought my own lunch so I didn't go inside. There are benches throughout the garden and a few toilets spread out, so you are able to sit and enjoy the scenery for as long as you want to. There is no limit to the time spent inside the garden so make sure to pack a picnic and you can have lunch in this beautiful place in the designated eating areas. The Garden opens at 9am and closes at 5pm. They do not allow admission after 4:30.

To be able to get to this hidden beauty spot, there are many options you can take and can access the garden easily from several different stations. The closest station is Kiyosumishirakawa, an easy 1 minute walk. And it is only a 10 minute walk from Tokyo station. You can also access this garden by a 25 minute walk from Shinjuku Nishiguchi station, using the Hanzomon and Oedo lines. These stations run till late into the night, so even after the garden closes you can feel free to wander around the local area, trying out different nearby restaurants and cuisine. 

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