Memos from Asia

5 Family-Friendly Parks in Tokyo

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When most people think of Tokyo, they conjure up images of skyscrapers, office buildings, and millions of people jam-packed onto trains.

However, what most people don’t know is that Tokyo has an abundance of beautiful parks and gardens, some of which are the most majestic worldwide.

With summer here and people looking for ways to escape the heat, taking the family to the park is one great option. What better way to enjoy the day, strolling through the park and sitting down to a picnic under a Japanese oak tree.

Below, I’ve compiled a list of five family-friendly parks in Tokyo for all to enjoy.


(Photo Credit: Kakidai, CC BY-SA 3.0)

At nearly 144 acres, the park is separated into several areas, all having their own unique theme. It’s called Shinjuku Gyo-en (新宿御苑) in Japanese.

Shinjuku National Park boasts an English style garden with beautifully manicured lawns perfect for families to enjoy a picnic lunch. At its most beautiful in summer and autumn, the French garden is host to an incredible array of roses and tall trees.

The park itself, located in Shinjuku, was formerly part of Kiyokazu Naito’s (a feudal lord) private residence. In years gone by and under Royal Family ownership, the park featured a ninehole golf course and a zoo. You’ll also find several large greenhouses that act as important research facilities in the cultivation of fruits and vegetables.

A sprawling, centuries-old park in the heart of Tokyo that nurtures an ecosystem among the skyscrapers.

Admission to the park is only 200yen.


Tokyo, Japan – October 11, 2015: View of Meganebashi (Eyeglass Bridge) bridge from Kokyo Gaien, the large plaza in front of the Imperial Palace in Tokyo. The bridge in the back was formerly a wooden bridge with two levels (Nijubashi – Double Bridge), and hence the name.

Higashi Gyoen Park belongs to the Imperial Palace Gardens and is the only area open to the general public. Inside the park, you can find Samurai horse stables which date back to the 1500s and the remains of Tokugawa Ieyasu’s castle.

The garden itself is magnificent, with wide-open space that showcases the incredible beauty of Japanese landscaping.

With minimal shade, though, the garden is best avoided during the hot summer days; however, there is a lovely air-conditioned rest stop near the top of the hill that offers spectacular panoramic views.

Admission to the park is free.


Ueno Park in Spring

Having visited this park on numerous occasions, I definitely place it high on Tokyo’s best parks. Housing the oldest zoo in Japan and a children’s zoo, the park offers a great day out for family and friends. The children’s zoo is hands-on and allows the kids to feed animals such as rabbits, chickens and miniature horses (my daughter’s personal favorite)

Ueno Park is also regarded as one of the best spots to enjoy the Cherry Blossom season, and you’ll find over 1000 trees along its many walkways.

The park is surrounded by Lake Shinobazu, offering the perfect place for a picnic or a relaxed stroll. Paddleboats are also available for hire.

Admission to the park is free.


Hamarikyu (also Hama Rikyu) Public Gardens and modern skyscrapers of Shiodome Area

Hama Rikyu is a traditional Japanese style garden situated on Tokyo Bay. The park offers easy access and is only a 10-minute walk from Shimbashi JR Station.

The traditional style gardens with their beautiful bonsai and rock formations are hidden treasure’s just minutes from Tokyo’s hustle and bustle lifestyle.

In its early days, the park acted as an Imperial Garden and served as a duck hunting ground during the Edo Period. Walking through the park, many of these old buildings and relics can be still be seen; and even the remains of an ancient moat are still visible. An exciting way to travel to the park is by water taxi. It’s about a 30-minute ride and relatively cheap, costing about 1000 yen or $12.


Rikugien is often considered Tokyo’s most beautiful Japanese landscape garden. Built around 1700 for the 5th Tokugawa Shogun. Rikugien literally means “six poems garden”.

Widely regarded as Japan’s most beautiful traditional style garden, the park is a must-see for tourists.

The name Rikugien itself means “six poem garden.” Spectacularly the garden features 88 scenes from famous Japanese poems.

Rikugien offers wide-open spaces and numerous pathways that wind their way around the entire park. Several Tea Houses are situated in the garden, open to the general public; they offer the perfect opportunity to participate in a traditional Japanese tea ceremony.

The park is beautiful year-round but is best viewed during autumn, showcasing the surrounding maple trees’ beautiful colors.

Located only 10 minutes from Namboku Subway Line, the park is easily accessible.

Admission fee 300 yen.

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