What can you imagine about Shinjuku? It is labeled by the government as a shopping area. Full of branded goods and tall buildings. Yes, you can find all of that soon once you arrive at Shinjuku station. Lumine Est, Odakyu Department Store, Odakyu Mylord, Lumine 1 shopping mall, Lumine 2 shopping mall, Keio Department Store, Keio Mall and Odakyu Ace have direct access to Shinjuku Station. This is good for commercial reasons because Shinjuku station is served by JR East, Odakyu Electric Railway, Keio Rail Corporation, Tokyo Metro and Toei Subway.
Photo by Rob Young on Flickr
With all of this wave of shopping and popular stuff, let’s find some alternative for relaxation. Unpredictably, between the towering buildings in this area, you could find an extremely wide garden named Shinjuku Gyoen. The location is just 10 minutes from Shinjuku Station or 5 minutes from Shinjuku Sanchome Station.
With 58.3 ha (144 acres), Shinjuku Gyoen has three styles of gardens: The English Landscape Garden, The Japanese Traditional Garden and The French Formal Garden. The park was originally constructed as the site of Lord Naito’s (feudal lord of the Edo era) private mansion, then—when the samurai fell from power—as an imperial garden (completed in 1906) and re-designed as a national garden after World War II to become an area not just for picnics and pet walking, but also as an important national role since the Meiji Era. Shinjuku Gyoen was opened for the public in 1951.
Since 2006, Shinjuku Gyoen has held the responsibility of preserving endangered plant seeds as a seed preservation base garden for the Japan Association of Botanical Gardens. Not just that. In 2009, it had conducted ex-situ conservation based on the Basic Policies Concerning Ex-Situ Conservation of Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora in Japan.
The greenhouse has about 2,700 species of plants and all are treated well. From the entrance, they will directly lead you to a path from the front until the end. You could enjoy tropical plants, tropical pond/marsh plants, the Okinawa section, tropical lowlands plants, the Ogasawara section, dry land plants, tropical mountain plants, Special Exhibitions 1 and 2 and also Prewar Greenhouse remains. The greenhouse that we could see nowadays is really different from its former and has been reconstructed in 2012 and appears as an environment-conscious greenhouse.
Photo by Takanori Nakanowatari on Flickr
Support for Shinjuku Gyoen as a function to preserve endangered plants began in 1875 with the construction of an unheated greenhouse on the site of Naito Shinjuku Experimental Grounds (former name of Shinjuku Gyoen) of Ministry of Home Affairs. In 1893, a heated Western-style greenhouse was built and began to play a pioneering step in Japanese Greenhouse horticulture. By this way, they could provide training and guidance to greenhouse experts. Besides, in this place Japan's first cultivation of tropical orchids and tropical/subtropical plants began. Other than that, the greenhouse is also used for cultivating plants to be presented to the Imperial Family.
Japanese people and foreigners alike spend most of their time to have a picnic. But there are some rules that must be paid attention to. People are not allowed to:
- Play badminton, ball, frisbee etc.
- Bring alcohol inside the park
- Smoke cigarettes
- Pick plants and feed animals
- Build tents
- Play musical instrument and radio etc.
- Bring pets (only assistance dog allowed)
- Ride bicycles and tricycles
- Take pictures for commercial shooting and model photo shooting
This garden provides great facilities such as toilets, rest areas, benches and vending machines in many places. To guard against mosquitoes, it is better to wear long sleeve shirts and trousers or you may use mosquito repellent lotion instead.
Address: 11 Naito-machi, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 160-0014, Japan
Opening hours: 9am – 4:30pm (last admission 4pm); greenhouse open 9:30am – 4pm (last admission 3:30pm)
Closing days : Mondays (if Monday is a national holiday, the park is closed the next day), 29 Dec – 3 Jan
*except : 25 Mar – 24 Apr (during cherry blossom season) and 1- 15 Nov (Chrysanthemum Exhibition)
- Adults: 200 yen
- Elementary and junior high school student: 50 yen
- Kids 6 years old and under): Free
Admission is free for people with disabilities