Tokyo boasts 7,000 parks of different sizes and styles, but the Shinjuku Gyoen National Park is considered to be the best among them along with Rikugien park. It occupies a vast territory of 58.3 hectares with about 20,000 trees all up including 1500 large cherry trees of 75 varieties.
It’s no surprise that a visit to the Shinjuku Gyoen National Park garden is one of the more popular things to do in Shinjuku and it offers a nice contrast and respite from the hustle and bustle of the Shinjuku station area.
Traditional Japanese, French, and English landscape designs are represented in the park.
Shinjuku Gyoen National Park is exceptionally beautiful and is even the favorite place for the Japanese government to hold official receptions.
At the end of the 19th century, the Shinjuku Imperial Botanical Garden was redesigned as the Shinjuku National Garden by a French landscape architect Henri Martine. The opening ceremony of the Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden was held in 1906.
During World War II the park was greatly damaged and In 1949, after certain restoration work, the park was given to the nation by the Imperial family.
Cherry Blossom Season In Shinjuku Gyoen Park
From the middle of February to the end of April every year the park is fantastically beautiful.
During the cherry blossom season, the park becomes one of the most popular and crowded places in the country for hanami (cherry blossom viewing) parties.
There are 75 species of cherry with a different blooming periods, so visitors can enjoy various kinds of cherry blossoms for quite a long term. The colors vary from white to deep purple.
Chrysanthemum Exhibition In Shinjuku Gyoen
In the first part of November, thousands of people gather in the park to admire the blooming of chrysanthemums cultivated according to traditional methods as well as new techniques.
The chrysanthemums were introduced into Japan from China around the eighth century. The Chrysanthemum Exhibition was an annual court function performed at the Akasaka Imperial Villa from 1878 until 1929 when it was moved to Shinjuku Gyoen.
During the war, the exhibitions were not held. But the chrysanthemum stock wasn’t lost and in 1949 full-scale gardening resumed. On the territory of the garden, a greenhouse with a considerable collection of tropical plants is situated.
The first greenhouse was built in 1875. At that moment it was non-heated and occupied the territory of 100 square meters, where different western fruits and vegetables were cultivated.
By 1896 the construction of the heated greenhouse in western style was completed. Tropical plants and fruits that grew there were used for the Imperial court function. After World War II, when the garden was turned into a national garden, the greenhouse was continually converted from a plant cultivation house into an ornamental plants house.
Because of this the Palm Room, Subtropical Room, and Tropical Water Lilies Room were constructed. Nowadays, around 128 families 650 genera 2373 species of tropical and subtropical plants from all over the world are cultivated in the greenhouse.
The Imperial Families Park of Choice
During Meiju and Taisho era the garden was a favorite walking place for the Imperial family where they also played golf and tennis. The Imperial rest house was constructed in 1896. It was a modern building in the western Stick Style (the architectural style that came into fashion in the USA in the 1860s).
In Japan, there are few existing western-style wooden houses built in the Meiji era, so this house is considered to be an important cultural property. In 2000, assiduous repair works were carried out and the interior of the house was restored carefully. Since 2001 on the second and fourth Saturdays the Imperial Rest House is open to the public.