(Botanical, Agricultural, Nature, Town & Prefectural Parks)
JAPAN’S BEST NATIONAL PARKS
1 Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park Visit Mt Fuji and its lakes along with the millions of tourists both local and foreign who flock there throughout the year. The sacred volcano aside, Odakudani’s bubbling and egg-boiling sulphur springs, Hakone’s lake resorts, onsens and the Feudal-Era Tokaido Highway are reasons to visit. Then there are those who head for the coastal panoramas of Izu Peninsula. Access: The most popular route for sightseeing Hakone is the circular route that includes a ride on a two-car mountain tram, a cable car, a ropeway, and a boat. For access see infoAccess to Izu: Take the local train from Shinjuku to Odawara (90 minutes) via Odakyu Railway Line. Rent a car from Odawara and use it to drive around Izu (and Hakone and the Fuji lakes as well if combining them on a trip). For a review of Izu Peninsula and drive-there-directions, see this link.
2 Nikko National Park A UNESCO World Heritage site, this national park’s fame lies in its ornate Toshogu Shrine and its mausoleum for Tokugawa Ieyasu, and in its magnificent 400 year old cryptomeria trees, and lakeside resorts. See access info.
3 Japan Alps National Park These are Honshu’s most impressive mountain ranges many of which tower to heights over 3,000 meters. Kamikochi is a focal point for trekking and viewing/climbing the Alps and is more easily accessible than other mountains for family treks. Kamikochi is often combined with a stop at the Kurobe Dam where you can cruise and see Kurobe River Gorge which has the world’s highest rates of sediment erosion. The site of the 1998 Winter Olympics is also here, so you can expect the national park’s ski offerings to be excellent. And the World Heritage sites in the mountains such as Shirakawago village are so unique that a trip there will form an important experience for understanding the rice (and silk) farming culture of Japan. Access: From Shinjuku take a Highway bus to Kamikochi or alternatively from Matsumoto Station if you are combining the trip with a visit to the castle there. Penshon-Shirufurei located at the Sawando public car park is a good place to stay overnight, as the car park is also the stop for a bus to the Kamikochi trails. Most visitors take the trail that follows a mountain stream to the beautiful Taishoike-pond where you can see the effects of Yakedake’s eruption, and then further through a wooded trail to the Kappabashi (Kappa bridge) where you can see a larch tree-lined river and magnificent snowy scenes of the Japan Alps and their glorous peaks if you are lucky with mist-free conditions. For more detailed planning and access info (Kamikochi) and also for Shirakawa-go here.
4 Ise-Shima National Park: Visit this national park for its rugged coastal scenes of isles, inlets and capes, as well as for its ancient history of pearl culture. Within this park lies the birthplace of the first cultured pearl in the world. Visitors come to see the female female oyster-abalone divers and pearl museum. The other important historically significant reason to visit the park is the Ise Grand Shrines, Japan’s most important Shinto pilgrimage point. Other family attractions include a world-class aquarium and two theme parks. More info here
5 Seto-Naikai (Inland Sea) National Park: A sea park that is studded with islets and that will give the visitor a sense of Japan’s geographical context as an archipelago. The most famous attraction here is Miyajima, home of the breathtakingly beautiful Itsukushima Shrine. Access: Cross the Seto Inland Sea via the Shimanami Kaido route linking Honshu with Shikoku. Or take one of the regular ferries sailing between Honshu, Shikoku, and Kyushu. Most visitors will not want to miss the cruise on the waters of the Seto Inland Sea. Access info
6 Unzen-Amakusa National Park: Here you can climb Mt Fugen (1,229m) and other attractions that allow you to grasp the power of and the devastation that follows a volcanic eruption. Like Hakone’s popular Owakudani, you will also want to take a walk through the Hells which are the park’s own sulfur springs. Onsens, as you can expect, are popular with the park’s visitors too. Make a virtual visit via video clips that show you the walking route on Mt Heisei-Shinzan to view the effects of the eruption of the Unzen-Fugendake volcano. Impressive site, a must for the compulsive arm-chair traveler.
7 Towada-Hachimantai National Park: Visit north-central Tohoku’s most popular park for its hiking trails, beautiful lakes, onsens and skiing. Access: The park is shared by 3 prefectures but access can difficult without a car as there is no bus connection between the Tazawa and Towada lakes. Be warned that the bus services are infrequent. From Tokyo, Lake Tazawa at the southern end of the park is more easily visited from Tokyo (for hiking in summer and skiing and onsens in winter). Make a separate trip to the northern Lake Towada and the picturesque Oirase Stream with its river hiking trail.
8 Shikotsu-Toya National Park: This national park in eastern Hokkaido has still active volcanoes that have erupted in recent years damaging some of the hotspring resorts which have been quickly restored. Attractions include Toya and other lakes, scenic volcanoes, and famous hot-spring resorts like Noboribetsu. Toya-ko is particularly popular when there is a hanabi (fireworks) event. Visitors will also want to visit the Ususan and Showa Shinzan volcanoes in the vicinity. See access info here .
9 Daisetsuzan National Park: The largest of Japan’s 28 national parks, Daisetsuzan is great place for trekking and one of the best nature reserves for alpine/forest habitat or wildlife study. Daisetsuzan has three volcanic chains and 30 mountains that are over 2,000 m and consequently many geological wonders such as the Sounkyo Gorge. Best visited during summer and early fall seasons for treks but winter offers ski attractions. Access: Take the breath-taking cable-car ride up Sounkyo’s sides. Higashikawa is a popular base for visiting the national park, for transportation info, see this page.
10 Akan National Park: The highlights of the park’s attractions are the beautiful Lake Mashu which at one time held the record for the clearest lake in the world (now second Russia’s Baikal), Lake Kussharo as one of the largest mountain lakes in Japan, and the marimo algae that grows at the bottom of Lake Akan (which is the world’s only ball-shaped algae). The park offers lots of good hiking trails but visitors should give themselves plenty of time to get around as connections between the lakes and resorts are infrequent and access can be a problem. Fishing, canoeing in summer and skiing in winter are popular activities. Access: Drive if you can, or try the Akan bus connections. See access info
A – Z LIST OF PARKS & GARDENS
(Japanese traditional gardens are listed separately below this A-Z listing)
Agriculture, Forestry and Livestock Center, Saitama Phone: 048-536-0311 784 Add: Sugahiro, Konan-machi Access: 4-minute walk from Chikusan Shiken-mae bus stop. Catch the bus bound for Ogawa-machi at the north exit of Kumagaya Sta., Takasaki Line, or the bus bound for Kumugaya Sta. at Ogawa-machi Sta., the Tobu-Tojo Line. Closed: Mondays (excluding national holidays), the day following a holiday (except if this day is a weekend or holiday), and over the New Year.
Agriculture and Forest Park, Saitama Phone: 048-583-2301 Access: 5768-1 Honda, Kawamoto-machi / 4 km from Takekawa Station, Chichibu Line.
Akao Herb and Rosemary Garden, Itami. Phone: 0557-82-1121 for directions and info. 12 gardens in all. Flowers through four seasons, crafts, herb products and “soft-cream” to be enjoyed.
Ainosato Herb Garden in Hiroshima
Akasaka Yama Koen, Kashiwazaki, Niigata Prefecture. Visit the lovely garden with its artificial waterfall, stroll by the stream, and up to the first hill to a picnic and park (with slides and swings) area. Beyond the first hill, there is a larger playground, a planetarium and the Kashiwazaki City Museum. Access: Route 8 in Kashiwazaki City. (Enjoy Japanese tea afterward in the Tea Ceremony Museum adjacent to the park.)
**Akebono Kodomo-no-mori Koen Park, Saitama Prefecture. A park with trees and beautiful lawns, the kind that is perfect for toddlers and little people. Especially since it’s a little magical with all the kinoko-hiroba (mushroom plazas) and little mushroom huts. For must-see pictures, click on this link to a photo gallery.
**Akebono-no-yama Nogyo Koen An agricultural historical museum with hands-on agricultural facilities and is therefore popular with families. Very scenic open space for those with very young kids. There is a picturesque if incongruous Dutch windmill. Visitors flock here for the seasonal flowers, such as tulips, rape flowers, sunflowers and cosmos. Other facilities include a barbecue restaurant, athletic field and more. Access: 1) Take the bus headed for Akebono-yama Koen from the north exit of Abiko Station. A 10-minute walk from Akebono-yama Koen Iriguchi 2) Take the bus headed for Fuse from the No. 4 bus stop at the west exit of Kashiwa Station. A five-minute walk from Fuse Benten (the last stop)”. 3) Take the bus headed for Mitsui Danchi from Kita-Kashiwa Station.;10-minute walk Tsuchiyatsu Iriguchi Source
Alpine Botanical Garden, see Access map
Akatsuka Botanical Garden, Itabashi, Tokyo. Over 600 kinds of trees, plants and flowers. Access: Take a train to Narimasu Station on the Tobu-Tojo and Yurakucho Lines out of Ikebukuro. Then take Bus no. 2 headed for Akabane Station (board at bus stop #1) and get off at the Tokyo Daibutsu-mae stop at Akatsuka 8-chome. Turn and walk back to the corner. You will see a sign for Tokyo Daibutsu-dori. Go right and walk for 3 minutes down the hill. Go past the next traffic signal and turn left onto the second small street. The garden is just past the Jorenji Daibutsu.
Akita Prefectural Museum of Agricultural Science Park
Amami island Botanical Gardens (Japanese)
Aobanomori Kouen (Aoba forest Park), Chiba city, Chiba A very large park with an adjacent Natural History Museum. Access: From Chiba station, take the bus which takes about 15 minutes to reach the park.
Asahiyama Prefectural Park, Kannon-cho. The peak of Mt. Asahiyama is a wide area covered with natural grass. This is a major observation site overlooking the Kinkasan and Mt. Kurikoma and Matsushima For more info
Ashinoko Yaso-en (Wild Grass Garden), Ashinoko, Hakone, Kanagawa. Phone: 0460-3-7686 1,300 kinds of wild grass flower on the scenic side of a hill Access: Transportation 35 min. by bus for Hakone-machi from Hakoneyumoto Access: 10 min. walk from Hakone-machi bus stop. Free Parking for 10 cars.
Asukayama Koen or Park. Some 1,800 flowers are here for flower-viewing enthusiasts, but the main attractions at the park are usually the circular climbing aparatus and the life-size elephant slide. Also check out the life-size elephant slide. Its also a good place for train-spotting including the Shinkansen. Restaurant and snack facilities available inside the park. Phone: 03-3910-8882 for access info. 1-1-3 Oji, Kita-ku. A 5-minute walk from Oji Station (Keihin Tohoku Line) South Exit or either Asukayama or Oji Ekimae stations (Arakawa Line)
Atagawa Tropical & Alligator Garden (Japanese website)
Bonari Kougen Garden, Fukushima prefecture. A 40 sq. km garden featuring 50,000 flowers of 3,000 kinds including irises, azaleas and American confederate roses. Access: Bandaikogen Hill Iris Garden, 5 minute drive by car from Bandai Atami I.C. Phone: 024-984-4006
Botanic Garden of the Faculty of Agriculture, Hokkaido University
Camellia Park or Tsubaki Koen, Ooshima, Izu 8,000 camellia trees showcased in this park. Phone: 04992-2-9111 or check the Ooshima Tourist Association website for info.
*Chiba Koen (Chiba Park) The park features natural wooded areas, a lotus pond with boats, a summer splash-pool. Access: From JR Chiba Station walk for 5 minutes to the park.
Eco-Park, Higashi Village, northeast Okinawa prefecture. Entrance is 200 yen for adults and 100 yen for 6-11 yr-old kids. Access: Take highway 329 north to reach the village. An alternative is to take the Expressway to its northern termination at Kyoda, then follow the signs to the east side of the island. 6-11 years of age. Costs associated with participating are, as always, the costs of foods, souvenirs, amusements for the children, and film. Read a review.
Ecology Park at the History Museum and Institute of Chiba. An interesting observation field featuring 16.3 acres of preserved natural woodlands around Funada-ike Pond, reconstructed to showcase the different types of forest and grassland vegetation found on the Boso Peninsula.
Ehara Park, Shin-egota, Tokyo. Popular with preschool aged kids who like the wading pool (and moms too because it’s free) Access: 10 minutes’ walk from Shin-egota station on Toei Oedo Line or 15 minutes from Ekoda on Seibu Ikebukuro line.
Flower Festival Commemorative Park in Gifu prefecture bills itself as the world’s no. 1 Rose Garden
Fuchu Municipal Museum or Kyodo-no-Mori Museum Access: 6-32 Minami-machi, Fuchu city, Tokyo 183-0026; Phone: 042-368-7921 More info at here (Japanese only)
Fuchu-no-mori Koen, Higashi-Fuchu, Sengen-cho in West Tokyo. The park features a man-made stream, flower gardens, wading fountains, tennis courts, play areas and lawn picnic areas for the family. As a family sports square with forests, hills and water, surrounded by green nature of Musashino, there are many sports facilities for baseball, tennis, soccer, jogging and gate-ball. There is also an authentic Japanese garden where you can enjoy cherry blossoms in spring and red leaves in autumn. There’s a planetarium too. Access: 10 minutes walk from [Higasi-fuchu Sta.] of Keio Line.Walk north of the station or follow the signs to Fuchunomori Koen. The park is located behind Dream Hall (Fuchunomori Hall). Parking facilities available.
Funabashi-Andersen-Koen-Kodomo-bijitsukan A Hans Andersen theme park that features its rainbow forest and children’s workshops.
**Furano Tomita features the famous lavender fields of Furano, Hokkaido. Hokusei, Nakafurano-cho, Sorachi-gun, Hokkaido 071-0704 Phone: 0167-39-3939 Fax: 0167-39-3111
Hachiman-cho, Sagae City. Visit it for the cherry blossoms, children’s playground, arbor and the Sagae Hachiman Shrine. Access: 15 minutes’ walk from Sagae Station or 10 minute’s drive from Sagae I.C.
Hakone Ashinoyu Flower Center. Tropical foliage plants, fruit trees, begonias (elephant’s ears) and orchids of 1000 species, 6000 bulbs are exhibited.
40min. by bus to Ashinoyu bus stop from Odawara Stn. Adults ¥600 Children ¥400 Phone: 0460-3-7350
(Hakone) Ashinoko Yaso-en (Wild Grass Garden) Phone: 0460-3-7686 1,300 kinds of wild grass flower on the scenic side of a hill Access: Transportation 35 min. by bus for Hakone-machi from Hakoneyumoto Access: 10 min. walk from Hakone-machi bus stop. Free Parking for 10 cars
Hakone Begonia Garden is a huge garden with 100,000 begonia plants of 600 kinds – something in bloom all through the year. Phone: 0460-5-8383
Hakone Detached Palace Garden (Onshi Hakone-Koen) This garden park has an observation tower that offers a panoramic view of Lake Ashi, Mt.Fuji and the surrounding scenery. 50min. by bus to Hakone-machi bus stop from Odawara Stn. Phone 0460-3-7484
Hakone Shitsugen Hana-en (Hakone Wetlands Garden) Open from 3/20 – 11/30 (9:00-17:00hrs) Kanagawa prefecture. Phone: 0460-4-7293 Fax: 0460-4-6871 A park in Hakone that showcases the wetland habitat. Seasonal alpine wildgrasses and wetland vegetation. More info here.
Hitsuji-yama-koen, Chichibu. Phone the Chichibu Tourist Association for info & directions: 0494-21-2277 A park that is famed for its splashes of pink from the vast flower beds filled with 330,000 (11 species) shiba-zakura plants. The park has throngs of crowds from spring onwards.
Hana Park Fiore-kobuchisawa, Yamanashi prefecture A park in Kiyosato, Chuo area with views of Mt Fuji, the southern alps and Mt Yatsugatake. 16 ha featuring 200,000 tulips and 70,000 Casa Blanca lilies in season. Visit the Kids Place and Konchu Museum (Bug museum) as well. Phone: 0551-36-6611
Hananomiyako-kouen, Yamanakako. The park features Mt Fuji as its spectacular backdrop along with 300,000 square meters of spring tulips, summer sunflowers and other seasonal flora of 150 types. A herb garden as well as an English garden are also among the attractions. Phone: 0555-62-5587
Harano Agricultural Museum
Hattori Ryokuchi-koen. An expansive park with playgrounds, flower beds, water features in summer, horse rides. Nearby 10 minutes walk away is another playground with slides and swings and a rowboat-and-paddleboat-pond. Access: A short walk west from Ryokuchi-koen Station on the Midosuji Line.
Hibiya Park, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo. Once the grounds of Edo lord, Matsudaira Bizennokami, it later served as Meiji-era military parade grounds, and then became the westernized urban-style park in Japan. The outdoor music halls and the public hall facilities were forerunners of modern culture.Higashiyama Zoo & Botanical Gardens, Nagoya. (website in English, Japanese) A decent botanical garden accompanies the zoo grounds. For access info phone: 052-782-2111
Hikarigaoka Park, Tokyo. Attractions include play-jungle-gym equipment, picnic areas, bird-watching observatory, and areas for skate boarding, in-line skating, basketball, tennis and bike riding. Sports facilities such as a baseball field, running track, gym and field for kite-flying are available. Access: Take the Oedo subway line from Shinjuku to Hikarigaoka station and walk 10 minutes on a no-traffic walk-way, or take a bus from Narimasu station (Yurakucho/Tobu-Tojo lines) Phone: 03-3977-7638
Himenosawa-Koen, Atami. From January onwards, the park displays in succession native flowers of fukujyusou, tsubaki, tsutsuji azaleas, hydrangeas, etc are spectacular. Athletic and hiking course. Phone: 0557-83-4995 (park office)
Hiratsuka-shi-soko-koen in Hiratsuka city, Kanagawa features a ball park, athletic course, onsen pool, sports center, petting zoo, artificial pond.
Hirugano Botanical Garden See Map and access info. (website in Japanese only)
Hokuto-shi’s Akeno Sunflowers Field, Hokuto-shi, Yamanashi Phone: Hokuto-shi Kankou Shoukou-ka 0551-42-1351 / Akeno Nogyo Shinkosha (Akeno Agricultural Promotion Organization) 0551- 25-2885. 80,000 large yellow blooms in the location used for the 2004 Japanese film “Ima Ai ni Yukimasu” (I’m on my way to meet you). They bloom through the month of August. Stay at Akeno Furusato Taiyoukan a modern style spa with an open air pool and bath located on a highland of Mt. Kayagatake. Japanese Southern Alps Mountains , Mt.Fuji and Mt.Yatsugatake, those are Japanese most superb mountains, are looked over magnificiently. are available,in which we can enjoy both nice view and fresh highland air. And this is a secret date spot for lovers. Access: 10 km east of Sudama IC Phone 0551-25-2601 山梨県北巨摩郡明野村浅尾 5259-950
Horikiri Shobuen Iris Garden in Katsushika city, Tokyo. Visit the garden – one of the notable sights in Tokyo for a long time since the Edo period – in June for the fine display of 6,000 or so irises of 130 varieties. Access: Via train to Horikiri Shobuen stop on the Keisei main line from Ueno then 15 mins walk southwest.
Hokkaido Daigaku Hoppo Seibutsuken Field Kagaku Center Shokubutsuen
Hokkaido University Botanic Garden A beautiful botanical garden, a nature preserve and cultural center in Sapporo.
Ikenodaira-Shirakabako Family Land, Shinshu, part of the Shirakaba Resort has has 200,000 lilies on display during July to August. There is a Kabutomushi-kuwagata World, a beetle park for kids as well.
*Ibaraki Nature Museum. (website in English) This is a good nature museum. There is a mammoth exhibit, prehistoric earth diorama, nature exhibits on Ibaraki, Sugao-marsh habitat, Mt Tsukuba and the Beech forest of Okukuji, as well as an outdoor flower garden and ponds.
Ikoi Forest, Yazawa, Sagae City. The park has a pond, house in the woods, athletic field and camping facilities. Access: 15 minutes’ drive from Sagae Station; and 20 minutes’ drive from Sagae I.C.
Ikoi-no-mori Park, Fukushima 5.4 hectares of natural parkland that has nature walking trails, a slide and field athletic courses.
Inariyama Park, Saitama prefecture An expansive wooded park with large grassy spaces sort of park good for outdoor games such as soccer. Access: Take the Seibu Ikebukuro line to Inariyama Koen Station(about 50 minutes from Ikebukuro).
*Inokashira Koen, Mitaka-city, Tokyo. What was once an important source of water supply for the town of Edo, Inokashira Pond has today turned into a beautiful park surrounded by the wood of trees. Access: 5-minute walk from Kichijoji(JR Chuo Line), 1-minute walk from Inokashira Koen(Keio Inokashira Line) Map info located right next to Ghibili Museum.
*Ishikawa Arboretum Managed by the Ishikawa Forest Experiment Station, the arboretum contains a flower tree grove, coniferous grove, symbolic tree grove, a deciduous broad-leaved tree collection, an evergreen broad-leaved tree grove, a minor products grove, cherry (1,000 trees/150 species) & camellia tree (850 trees / 140 species) grove, and a Japanese garden. 15,000 trees / 800 species represented here. There is a forestry museum as well. Access info here Visit the website for the picturesque scenes of sakura and snow-clad Japanese garden.
Ito Shyaboten-koen at Ito features 1,500 different types of desert succulent plants as well as pelicans, squirrels and monkeys at the park. Phone: 0557-51-111
Jigokudani onsen and nearby Monkey Park in Nagano is one the best places for mammal watching, specifically the Japanese macaque(known to love onsen soaks), shika-deer and serow.
Jindai Shokubutsu Koen. Once the only botanical garden in Tokyo, the nursery-turned botanical garden now has 100,000 trees and shrubs representing approximately 4,500 varieties including the rose, azalea, ume plum, bush clover, etc. Jindaiji Motomachi 5-31-10, Chofu city, Tokyo 182-0017)
Jionji Nature Park, Jionji, Sagae City, Yamagata prefecture. Visit it for the Hizendate observatory and over 90 acres of hiking trails. Access: 15 min. drive from Sagae Station; 20 min. drive from Sagae I.C.
Jyonobi Mura, Takayanagi, Niigata prefecture. The park has several features. There is Children’s playground, bicycle track, craft area, hiking trails, camping facilities and even an onsen make this park worth visiting. Basketball hoops, stilts and unicycles for use for free. (Note: Takayanagi village has a famous and colorful celebration called the Fox’s Wedding Festival. Access: A 25 min. drive from the Kashiwazaki IC on the Hokuriku expressway. After the toll gate follow the sign toward Tokamachi/Takayanagi. Follow the signs on Jyonobi mura all along the way.
Kaiseizan Park Rose Garden, Fukushima prefecture. 440 kinds and 810 roses make a spectacular display when in bloom in June and October. Access: in the center of Koriyama City. 15 minute drive from Koriyama Station. Phone: 024-924-2361
Kanagawa no Ken-ritsu Koen-Zamayamatoyamkoen, Zama Access: via Odakyu line to Zama stn a 15 min walk to the park. A “satoyama” (typical Japanese country landscape managed by volunteers, with minka buildings.
Kamine Park in Hitachi, Ibaraki prefecture has about 1000 cherry trees. The park also has an amusement park and a small zoo. Access: just north of Hitachi Station, see map for directions.
Kanaz Forest of Creation in Fukui prefecture. As the name suggests, this is no ordinary park but one designed to showcase the creativity and works of artists and ateliers. There is a art museum core and a garden around a lake. The modernist garden is a beautiful setting to explore on its own. (Japanese)
*Kanazawa-Bunko Koen. Adjacent to the Kanazawa zoo. A very hilly park with great flower-viewings (marigold in mid-summer), a botanical park though most people walk through all that just to get to the huge jungle-gym and adventure park with allegedly the longest slide in Yokohama. Access: Take the Keihin Kyuko Line which leaves from Shinagawa and goes through Kawasaki, Yokohama, and Kami-Ooka before you get to Kanazawa-Bunko (take an express train). From Kanazawa-Bunko station, you have to take bus No. 1 for about 12 minutes and get off at Natsu-yama-sakaue stop.Official website in Japanese only
Kashiwanoha Koen. A popular family park with free-admission facilities including a boating pond, gymnasium, botanical garden, Japanese garden and an adventure plaza (boken-no-hiroba). Access: Take the bus headed for Kashiwanoha Koen or the Kokuritsu Gan Center from the No. 2 bus stop at the west exit of Kashiwa Station. A five- to seven-minute walk from “Mitsui Jutaku-mae” or “Kashiwa-Nishiko-mae” bus stops. Location: 4-1 Kashiwanoha, Phone: 7134-2015) Source of access info
Kawazu-Bagateru Koen or “Bagatelle Park” at Izu, is a copy of the French style Bagatelle Garden in Paris. It features about 6,000 bushes of 1,100 kinds of roses. The garden can be enjoyed fro mspring through autumn. phone: 0558-34-2200.
*Kodomo-no-Kuni. Chuo, Kanagawa Prefecture. A great family park with a boating pond, petting and pony ride zoo, mini-steam engine and adventure-play-equipment. Mid-way between Tokyo and Yokohama (Take the Yokohama line) to Kodomo no kuni station (one stop on special line from Nagatsuka Station on the Odakyu Line) For access info see here and for an English review see here.
Kema Sakuranomiya Koen Osaka This is one of Osaka’s best sakura hanami spots, with the many unusual varieties of sakura that cannot be seen elsewhere. Access: near JR Sakuranomiya Station
*Kodomo-no-kuni, Chiba prefecture. Phone: 043674-3174 See pictures of the petting zoo.
*Kodomo-no-kuni at other locations: Kofu, Hokkaido, Ryozen-Fukushima, Yamanashi, Aichi see this link.
Kodomo-no-mori, Aoba-ward, Yokohama. Access: 17 Mitake-dai Aoba-ku, Yokohama city. Phone: 045-972-7700. Take the train to the Aoba-dai or Fujigaoka station on the Tokyu Line. Or take the bus bound for Shyosenin-mae. Some pictures of the park may be found here.
Kodomo-shizen-koen, Asahi-ku, Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture For info phone: 351-5024 Western Parks and Greenery Office (Seibu Koen Ryokuchi Jimusho) Fax: 352-3086 Access: A 20 minute walk from Futamatagawa Station (on the Sotetsu Line)
Koganei Park offers bike-rides, wide grassy areas, children’s playground, archery facilities, an all-year-round sledding hill where you can rent the sleds. You can find ume (plum), wisteria, cherry trees and tulips that make for good hanami when in season. Access: Take the train to Hana Koganei station on the Seibu-Shinjuku line or to Musashi Koganei station on the JR Chuo line and walk for 15 minute walk from there. Phone: 042-385-5611 Read this review
Kokuei-musashi-kyuuryou-shinrin-koen, Saitama. Phone: 0493-57-2111 The park features Japan’s largest trampoline, an adventure park course, “Musashi Kids Dome, water-splash spots for kids and a flower garden park with 500 sakura trees.
*Kokuei Showa Kinen Park, Tachikawa, Tokyo. A park that offers stream-splashing, cycling, a Japanese garden and tea-house, a sunken outdoor theater and maze for a game of pirates. There’s also a Hobby House (craft) and sports facilities. Access: Take the train to Nishi Tachikawa Station on the JR Ome Line which is one stop away from the Tachikawa Station on the JR Chuo Line.
*Koishikawa Botanic Garden, Botanical Gardens of Tokyo University. Excellent collection of plants in a pleasing arrangement with ponds, woods, greenhouses and beds. Scientific labels on the plants make for easy study. Go especially for the ume blossoms in March and the avenue of maples in November. Access: 3-7-1 Hakusan, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo. A 15-minute walk from Myogadani Subway Station on the Marunouchi line.
Komazawa Park, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo. This park is dominated by the huge gymnasium which was once used for the Tokyo Olympics. It mostly consists of a stroll on a elliptical concrete but tree-lined path that surrounds the gym. Access: Komazawa Koen 1-1, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo 154-0013. From Shibuya on the JR Line, get to the Komazawa koen bus stop via Tokyu bus bound for Denenchofu or from Ebisu on the JR Line take the Tokyu bus bound for Yoga and then walk for 15 minutes walk from Komazawa daigaku bus stop. Map info is available.
Koriyama Ryokusui-en, Fukushima prefecture. The garden offers 100 sq. kilometers of nature for forest walks, bird-watching, camping, barbecue, splashing in the Gohyaku River and rolling around on the lawn. You can also sample edible wild plants, akahara fish temupra and salted broiled trout at the rest house. Access: 15 minute drive from Koriyama I.C. Phone: 024-959-6764
Koriyama Rainbow Flower Park, Fukushima prefecture. A 20 sq. km park famed for iris viewing. Phone: 0248-73-0051 Access: 40 minute drive by car from Koriyama Minami I.C. Kinuta Park, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo. A green lung for the Tokyo area, the park serves as a family park with lawns and athletics facilities. Access: Kinuta koen 1-1, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo 157-0075) See access and map info
Kuju Hana Koen, Oita prefecture. Around 2 million colorful flowers from 200 different species bloom all over the vast grounds. Gelato made from strawberries and abundant herbs, or original herb meals and potpourri souvenirs are popular with visitors. A beautiful place to visit when summer or fall flowers such as Cosmos are in bloom. Phone: 0974-76-1422 Access: 850, Kuju-kougen, Oita Prefecture 878-0201.
Kuju Lavender Garden, Handa-kogen Heights in Kokonoe-machi Town. During lavender season, from the end of June to the end of July, 20,000 lavenders turn a vast area of 150 acres of the hill a beautiful purple. Access: Handa-kogen, Kokonoe-machi, Kusu-gun, Oita Prefecture.
*Kyoto Botanic Garden. Extensive collections of plants all labeled with their Latin scientific names. Of special interest are the bamboo collection, and collections of plums, cherries, lotus, medicinal and economic plants. Access: 15 minute walk from Kitaoji Station at the north of the subway line.
Kurumayama-Kogen in Nagano is a mountain (1,550-1925m) resort park that is self-contained with sports facilities, accommodation, ski lifts, nature hiking trails (8 or more), fishing, etc. 3 hr-drive from Tokyo on the Chuo highway.
Machida Dahlia Garden, Yamasaki-machi The largest dahlia Garden in Japan with 4,000 dahlias (500 varieties). The Garden is situated on a small hill in Yamasaki-machi. Access: 1213-1 Yamasaki-machi Phone: 042-722-0538 From Machida Station (near POP Building) , take the bus bound for Nozuta Shako via Honmachida, or the bus bound for Tsurukawa Station, and get off at Imaiyato. Or, from Tsurukawa Station take the bus for Machida Station via Honmachida, and get off at Imaiyato. Or, take the Yamasaki Danchi bus from Machida Bus Center, and get off at Kita Ichigo. Best viewed at the peak of summer – through August.
Machida Ebine Garden, Hon-machida. Attractions include about 100,000 calanthes, as well as lady-slippers, bagiboshi, and other wild plants. Access: 3132-1 Honmachida Phone: 042-724-2163 Take the Fujinodai Danchi bus from Platform #1 of the Machida Bus Center, and get off at Fujinodai.
Machida Peony Garden, Minken no Mori, Machida city. Most famous for peony viewing which takes place from around the last week of April to the first week of May. 1,200 plants in all are featured in this garden. The 1.6 hectare garden is located at the north side of Yakushi-Ike Park,
and is part of Minken no Mori, a park known for its oak forest. Access: Minken no Mori Park, 2274-1 Nozuta-machi Phone: 042-736-4477. From Machida Station (near POP Building) , take the bus bound for Tsurukawa Station wia Honmachida, of take the Nozuta-Shako bus via Honmachida: get off at Yakushigaoka-mae. Walk for 7 minutes from there.
*Matsumae Koen, Hokkaido. A park that brings together all the Satozakura (100 species) species of Japan. There are 8,000 cherry trees in all. Access: 2 hrs 20 minutes by car from Hakodate along Route 228. Follow signs to Matsumae Koen.
Medicinal Botanical Garden A botanical garden set up by a pharmaceutical university in Shizuoka prefecture.
Medicinal Plant Garden, Machida-city, Tokyo.
Medicinal Plant Garden of Kobe Pharmaceutical University Website has a lovely photo gallery of images of birds that have been sighted in the garden.
*Miharu Farm Herb Garden Herb gardens are de rigueur these days. Located on the hill of Abukuma, Miharu makes for a good stroll in its sprawling garden grounds which cover 70,000 square meters and a further 66,000 square meters of its herb farm. There痴 a greenhouse, a park, a herb store, a restaurant and a courtyard. Of course, you are welcome to shop at the store which sells the usual dried flowers, handicrafts, herb oils and soaps, herb tea, and various herb flavored foods including cheese, ham, and bread. Feast on exquisite herb dishes at the restaurant that also serves the garden’s own teas. Access: 20 minute drive by car from Koriyama Higashi I.C. or phone for directions: 024-942-7939
Minami-bou-paradaisu Minami Boso, Chiba. Phone: 0470-28-1511 A flower garden with a green hothouse and animal park where kids can go for pony rides.
Mino Park, Osaka is a cool, shady riverside park with its maple trees, is a “koyo” fall-leaf-color viewing spot. Access: near Mino Station on the Hankyu Mino Line.
Mito Municipal Botanical Park. A lovely park in Mito to spot seasonal flowers as well as for fall foliage.
Mizumoto Park, Katsushika-ku. Athletics station and obstacle course; water features, bird-watching area, craft activities and of course lots of flowering trees and shrubs within the 700,000m sq meter grounds. Access: Mizumotokoen 3-2, Katsushika-ku. Phone: 03-3607-8321 Keisei or Chiyoda line, Kanamachi station. A 15-minute bus ride from the station.
Musashino Park Grassy fields and forests along Nogawa River. This park is a part of vast green land over Musashino hills in combination with Sengenyama park, Tama cemetery and Nogawa park.Access: Maehara-cho, Koganei City. Tokyo. In front of [Tamacho Bus Stop] on Keio Bus for [Tamareien] or [Tamacho] departing from [Musashi-koganei Sta.] of JR Chuo Line. In front of [Musashinokoen Bus Stop] on Keio Bus for [Chofu Sta.] departing from [Musashi-koganei Sta.] of JR Chuo Line, Parking facilities available.
Musashi-Kokubunji Park, Izumi-cho, Kokubunji city, Tokyo Access: 7 minutes walk from [Nishi-kokubunji Sta.] of JR Chuo Line and JR Musashino Line,10 minutes walk from [Kokubunji Sta.] of JR Chuo Line, Seibu Tamako Line and Seibu Kokubunji Line, Parking facilities available This park is a new one opened to the public in 2002. This area is a part of designated zone of buried cultural property, and a lot of ancient clay pots and arrowheads has been found around there. In the northern part of it, there is a large round-shaped grass of which diameter is 160M. This grass square is expected to be an evacuate shelter in case of large disasters. In the south, there are copses and forests full of wild birds. Adjacent to the park, there is a ruin of “Musashi-kokubunji”, a very old temple, which is designated as a national historic site.
Musashinomori, Park, Asahimachi, Fuchu Access: 5 minutes walk from [Tama Sta.] of Seibu Tamagawa Line, Parking facilities available Large grass square, a big pond and a hill are features of this park
Nagai Koen in Southern Osaka has a botanical garden, a natural history museum and a sports stadium where the J-League soccer team Cerezo Osaka plays its home games.
Nagasaki’s Nature Parks and Trails, See this guide for detailed info.
Nagasaki Subtropical Botanical Garden
National Park for Nature Study 20 hectares of undisturbed tamed wilderness serves as a nature and conservation centre. Many guided tours and educational classes here but they are in Japanese. Access: 5-21-5 Shirogane-dai, Minato-ku, Tokyo. Walk for 10 minutes from Meguro Station on the JR Yamanote Line.
Niigata Prefectural Botanical Garden
Nishi Zao, outside Yamagata City, Yamagata Prefecture A park with a panorama view of the city featuring mazes, lots of gym equipment and slides in two large spaces in the lower and upper reaches of the mountain. Access: Take the Nishi Zao Kogen Line to Yasouen which is right opposite the park. Yasouen is itself a nature and plant-viewing park with educational and information facilities.
***Nikko Botanic Garden. Part of the faculty of Science Tokyo University, it is impressive for its comprehensive collections of cherries, azaleas, hydrangeas, magnolias, maples and bush clovers. Access: Hanaishicho 1842 Nikko Tochigi prefecture. 10 minute walk from Toshogu Shrine along the road to Chuzenji. Infrequent buses may be taken from Nikko railway station pass the Botanic gardens.
Ninoseki Shinsui Park. The park boasts of a multi-purpose field, hiking trail, water wheel, aquarium, arbor and is particularly spectacular during the cherry blossom season. Access: 10 min. drive from Sagae Station; 10 minute drive from Sagae I.C.
Nogawa Park Abundant green and open spaces that beckon soccer, frisbee throwing, kite flying and running around. Several playgrounds here as well. In Mitaka-shi, Tokyo, a 15 minute walk from Tama Bochimae station, JR Tamagawa line. Free entrance. Nature Observation Center(9:30am-4:30pm, Closed: Mondays and Dec. 29-Jan.3), Bird Observation shelter, Shop. Park information: 0422-31-6457 Fax: 0422-31-7471
Nozuta Park, Machida City. A multi-purpose park, with natural vegetation of the Tama Hills. This park has a tack and field competition ground, grass square and tropical botanical gardens. There are also facilities for tea ceremonies. Onoji Yashiki (the Old Mansion) is located in a beautiful formal garden. Access: 2035 Noduta-machi Phone: 042-736-3131. Take bus from bus stop no. 11 at the Machida Bus Center, or board the Nozuta Shako bus at Machida Station (near POP Building) and get off at Nozuta Shako. Walk 10 minutes to the park. Another way is to take the Nozuta Shako bus from Tsurukawa Station (bus stop) and to get off at Nozuta Shako.
Nunobiki Herb Garden in Kobe Access: Take the ropeway/cable car from JR Shin-Kobe Station Phone: 078-271-1131
Odori-koen Park is an airy long city center park with monuments, trees, fountains and seasonal flower beds, the park bordered by grid-like roads is more characteristic of Europe than Japan.
Oike Park, Tsukuba. A park with sports facilities and a pond, this is a good place to rent a row boat. Access: 1477-1 Hojo, off of Route 125 at the base of Mt. Tsukuba
Onioshidashi En Gunma prefecture. Phone: 0279-86-4141 Many picnic spots in this park with natural woods, a deer park, seasonal flower beds.
Omachi Alpine Museum A pleasant museum that introduces alpine vegetation, as well as art and artifacts related to alpinism (letters from Weston and a broken nylon rope item depicted in the novel “The Ice Ridge” by Yasushi Inoue) and the history of climbing the Northern Japan Alps. The tea room has a good view. (web info in English)
Osaka Prefectural Flower Garden
Orchid Sanctuary Dogashima
Rinshino-mori-koen, Shimo-meguro, Meguro, Tokyo. Phone: 03-3792-3800 Wooded park with pond well-suited to kids’ play. The park started as the Meguro Experimental Nursery in 1900, the name was subsequently changed to the Forestry Research Station and being used until 1978. This Station was moved to Tsukuba Research City and the parkland was opened to the public as Rinshi No Mori Park in 1989 after some overhauls. This park has many giant trees of over 100 years old. Access: 10 minutes walk from Musashi Koyama Stn of Tokyu Meguro Line,1 minute walk from Rinshinomori Iriguchi Bus Stop on Tokyu Bus for Gotanda Stn departing from Shibuya Stn of JR Yamanote Line
Roka Koshun-en Setagaya ward, Tokyo This used to be the house and garden of Roka Tokutomi, one of the most popular authors in the Meiji and Taisho eras. He and his wife, Aiko, spent the latter half of their lives here. He called his garden “Koshun-en” and lived there for 20 years until his death in 1927. Other than an old house,there are Roka Memorial Hall, his grave and some other facilities. Access: Kasuya, Setagaya Ward. 15 minutes walk from [Roka Koen Sta.] or [Hachimannyama Sta.] of Keio Line, Parking facilities available.
Rosemary Park, Minami Boso, Chiba A Rosemary garden and other herbs-garden park with a picturesque chapel. Rosemary honey for sale and other herb products for sale. Phone: 0470-46-2882 for directions.
Ryonan Park, Nagafusacho, Hachioji city, Tokyo. This park is situated along the Minami-Asakawa River. It was the cycle racing ground of the Tokyo Olympics, and opened to the public as a park just after the Olympics. It is divided into two zones, the open space with baseball grounds and children’s park on the other side of the river.
Sagae Park, Nagaoka, Sagae City. Visited for its azalea gardens, forestry experimental station and herb garden and sports facilities (stadium). Access: 20 minutes’ walk from Sagae Station. 10 minutes’ drive from Sagae I.C.
**Sagamihara Asamizo Koen. Sagamihara’s best park is usually featured in photos with its tall observation tower. Actually a combination of several parks, it has sprawling flower-covered fields and open spaces, fountains, playgrounds an athletic course, petting zoo and pony rides and even a botanical garden. Access: 2317-1 Asamizodai, Kanagawa prefecture. For other parks in Sagamihara city, see the city office’s online Living Guide.
Sai-no-Kuni Fure’ai no Mori Forest, Saitama Phone: 0494-56-0026 Access: 447 Nakatsugawa, Chichibu-shi. Short walk from Nakatsugawa bus stop. Catch the bus bound for Nakatsugawa at Mitsumine-guchi Sta., Chichibu Line.
Saitama Nature Park Phone: 042-934-4396 Access: 889-1 Miyadera, Iruma-shi 10-minute walk from Hagiwara bus stop. Catch bus bound for either Miyadera-Nishi or Hakonegasaki-eki at Kotesashi Sta., Seibu-Ikebukuro Line.
Saitama Mizu Yijyo Koen in Saitama is a water park that features a variety of pools to splash in, slide around in, etc. Phone: 048-773-6711
Saitama Prefectural Nature Study Center
Sayama Hill Flora & Fauna Interaction Center Phone: 04-2939-9412 Access: 782 Arahata, Tokorozawa-shi 15-minute walk from Shimo-Yamaguchi Sta., Seibu-Sayama Line.
Siebold Memorial Museum, Nagasaki prefecture. This is a memorial museum of Philipp Franz von Siebold(1796-1866) (English & Japanese) the German physician who was one of the first Europeans to study Japan in depth. Paved the way for later research and modern science, he conducted research not only on medicine but also on botany and zoology – many of the botanical species are still named after him.
***Sazanka Plateau Picnic Park and Shirakimine Plateau are flower-viewing spots for fields and carpets of the seasonal flowers. Take a virtual visit via video clips Click on the Ken-ou area.
Serigaya Park. Access: 5-1679 Haramachida. From Machida Station, walk for 10 minutes to reach the park. Lots of green, sculptures, pools for kids to splash around in, a watery flower garden with rabbit-ear irises, and a variety of playground equipment. The Machida City Museum of Graphic Arts is located on one side of the park.
Shimin Shikinomori (Shimin Citizen’s Forest aka Komaki City Park) Komaki city, Nagoya that includes a Forest of Insects, Citizen’s Forest and Adventure Park. The website is in English.
*Shimizu Koen is a lovely family park that has everything: wooded areas, fantastic adventure-camp-athletics course equipment, a man-made paddle-stream that is popular with toddlers in summer, fountains, petting zoo. The wooden pirate-ship jungle-gym is a hit with kids too. Access: Shimizu, Noda-shi, 908 banchi, Chiba Prefecture. (website in Japanese) See map
Shimizuzaka Park, Kita-ku, Tokyo. Access: Kita-ku, half way between Akabane Station and Jujo Station (west of the Saikyo line).
***Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden. Considered to be one of the most important of the Meiji era gardens and it is a blending of three styles: French Formal, English Landscape and Japanese Traditional. Intended as an imperial garden, it was redesigned by a French professor of horticulture and opened to the public after WWII. 58.3 hectares of land with 20,000 trees including tulip trees, planes, Himalayan cedars and bald cypresses. This is a good place to watch the annual Chrysanthemum Exhibition. Access: 3 minute walk from Shinjuku-gyoen-mae subway station on the Marunouchi Line or the Sendagaya Station on the JR Sobu Line, turn right outside the station, go under the railway line and then make a left turn. (website in English, Japanese)
*Shiretoko Museum Shiretoko was designated a World Heritage site in 2005 and this is the only place you can drop into in the area to learn all about the Shiretoko’s nature and wildlife.
Shinrin Koen (Musashi Kuryo Government Park (in English) in Saitama is a fabulous park that has an arboretum showcasing botanical plants, a fabulous athletic adventure park as well as an imaginative and creative playground/playland for kids, not to mention the cute little bus that you can get ride around the park in. Konchu Festa (Bug Festa) is held in summer till Sep 3 showcasing 20 species of “huge” and “cute” insects. Shokubutsu-en Botanical Gardens in Sapporo has thousands varieties of alpine plants and trees, local as well as species from around the world. Chuo-ku, Sapporo.
Showa-no-mori Koen The largest park in Chiba city, it offers lots of attractions from adventure and athletics-obstacle course equipment for kids, to flower-viewing gardens to sunny lawns (Sunshine Place) as well as camping facilities.
Showa Kokuritsu Kinen Koen, Tachikawa. Access: Closest station Nishi Tachikawa Station (on the JR Ome Line) or one stop from Tachikawa Station (JR Chuo Line) For a review of the park’s facilities, see here.
**Southeast Botanical Gardens, Okinawa. Renowned for being Okinawa’s most beautiful tropical gardens, the other attractions include its butterfly garden and bug gallery, petting zoo, kaleidoscope workshop and many more. Access: Drive towards Kadena Gate 3 from Kadena Gate 2 and turn right towards Chibana Housing as soon as the Kadena Gate 3 is on your left, drive on straight as the Gardens are just up ahead. See this review.
Tanbara Rose Garden in Ehime has 6 hectares of roses grown using a Dutch technique but uniquely improved here. Eleven kinds of roses in many colors bloom marvelously. 430 Tanouwagata, Tanbara-cho, Saijo City Phone: 0898-68-3375
Tanbara Park, Saijo, Ehime spreads from Mt. Ofudeyama commanding a panoramic view of the open sea of Hiuchinada to the ruins of Mimigane Castle. There are many facilities including a multipurpose open space, tennis courts, Mimigane Fort Play Yard, and trails. This is an enjoyable place for both the young and the elderly. Kumyoji, Tanbara-cho, Saijo City Phone: 0898-68-5580
Tambara Lavender Park, Gunma. The largest lavender fields in the Kanto region. Location: Tanbara Kogen, Numata city, Gunma Phone: 0278-23-9311. Access: Take train for Minakami via JR Joetsu line at Ueno stn towards Takasaki, Gunma and get off at Numata stn. Then take a taxi to the park. The park is a 2 hr-drive to get to via the Kan’etsu Jidoushado Highway. Photos of the park hereand here. Note that the area in the Tanbara Marshland – often referred to as “Small Oze” where various wild flowers bloom throughout the season – is a great place for hiking. Tanbara Highlands has the largest beech forest in the Kanto area and is located on the north tip of Numata City, Gunma Prefecture. On the west side of Mount Hotaka (2158 meters high above sea level) rage, and Mount Kanomata (1637 meters) and Mount Amagahage (1466 meters) also surround the city. The city itself in the woods, spreading out on the slope of a volcanic mountain range, between 1000 to 1600 meters.
Tayake-koyakei-fureai-no-sato, Tokyo. A satoyama park where citizens, families, children can volunteer to help maintain the paddies. Phone: 042-652-3072
Tojo Historical Museum, Matsudo. See photos of the garden.
Tokorozawa Airplane Memorial Park, Saitama. A sprawling park with playgrounds, grassy and flower spaces, rollerblading areas and an aviation museum with an IMAX Theatre. Access: A short walk from Koukuu Koen on the Seibu Shinjuku line.
Tokyo Yumenoshima Tropical Botanical Garden. 3 enormous glass domes house the 4,256 plants of 106 species including breadfruit, banana, coffee, palm and mango. Access: 7 minute walk from Shin-kiba Subway Station on the Yurakucho Line. Next to Yumenoshima Sports Centre.
Toritsu Shakujii Koen, Nerima-ku, Tokyo. Features two lakes with pedal boats for rental, a fishing area for kids (free) a baseball field. There are two temples just next to the park.Access: Nearest train station is Shakujii koen station on the Seibu-Ikebukuro Line. Walk for 7 minutes from the station’s south exit.
Tsukuba Botanical Garden, Tsukuba city, Ibaraki prefecture. See here for access info.
Tsuruma Park. Noted for its Rich forest cover and large grassy sports ground open to the public from Wednesday and the third Sunday of the month. Access: 3-1-1 Tsuruma From Minami Machida Station, a 3 minute-walk there.
Tsurumi Ryokuchi-koen and the Sakuya Konohana-kan in Tsurumi-ku, Osaka offer a collection of more than 2,600 species and 15,000 specimens from all over the world in its gigantic greenhouse. There are tropical water plants, arctic flowers, insectivorous plants. It has well-landscaped gardens and many varieties of flower beds and is said to be one of the best-designed and loveliest botanical parks in Japan. Location: 2-163 Ryokuchi-Koen, Tsurumi-ku Phone: 06-6912-0055 Access: 10 mins walk from Tsurumi-Ryokuchi Station on the Nagahori Tsurumi-Ryokuchi subway line
Shin-rin Koen, Saitama. Beautiful garden park with playgrounds, climbing and slide and rent-a-bike facilities. Access: 1 hour from Ikebukuro, take the Tobu-Toju line to its terminus.
Ueno Park, Tokyo. You can come here for a stroll and for sakura-viewing, but most people come here for the collection of museums that are here, read a review of those.
Uozu Buried Forest Museum (website in Japanese)
Utsubo Koen used as an airstrip by the kamikaze during World War II, is now better known for its summer roses and spring cherry blossoms. This park is located along the Zenpukuji River and there are 12 bridges in the park.The river flooded quite often in the past and considerable work on the river embankment was carried out from 1955, which made an artificial Wadabori Lake.King fishers have their habitats in this area which is very rare in a city life. Access: Get to the park which is located between Honmachi and Yodoyabashi stations via the Yotsubashi subway line.
Wadabori Park, Omiya, Suginami-ku Tokyo. Access: 15 minutes walk from [Nishieifuku Sta.] of Keio Inokashira Line,
Parking facilities available.
*Yakushi Park, Yakushi-machi, Yamagata prefecture. Features children’s playground, woods, fountain, ponds and cherry blossom-viewing. Access: 15 minutes by bus from Yamagata station.
***Yakushi-ike Koen, Nozuta-machi, Machida-city Yakushi-Ike Park is considered among the 100 most lovely sights of Tokyo. A Japanese landscape garden that is famed for its most enormous lotus pond that had been sown from lotus seeds more than 2,000 year-old (with the most enormous Oga lotus leaves) possibly the largest in Japan. It is also a great spot for hanami, with its 300 plum trees, others such as cherries, wisteria, irises and camellia. Inside the park is another garden called the Manyo Kusabana En Flower Garden that has a collection of more than 70 types of the flowers and wild plants mentioned in the Manyoshu (ancient collection of poems), some of which are endangered species. In addition, the garden cultivates 260 other varieties of wild plants. Other attractions include two old minka houses from the Edo period. Access: From Machida Station (near POP Building ) take the bus bound for Nozuta Shako via Hon-machida, or take the Tsurukawa Station bus. Get off at Yakushi-Ike. Phone: 042-734-8527
Yamanashi Flower Center in Yamanashi. is known for its spectacular displays of flowers, particularly tulips . (Website in Japanese)
Yamanashi Kenritsu Yatsugatake Center Fureai Yatsugatake Alpine garden where hikes through woodchip trails and panoramic alpine views are to be had. Trails lead through mountain vegetation such as yama-tsutsuji (mountain azaleas) and karamatsu pines. Phone: 0551-48-2900 for access and info.
Yamanakako-Flower Capital Park, Yamanashi is 8 times the size of Tokyo Dome and features 50 kinds of flower bed-themes. Throughout the year. Phone: 0555-62-5587 for access and info.
Yoro Park in Gifu Its attractions are reviewed here.
Yuyakekoyake-fureai-no-sato in Hachioji, Tokyo is a large satoyama park where citizens – families and children can volunteer their help in maintaining the paddy fields. This spot is known for itsChristmas illuminations.
JAPAN’S BEST TRADITIONAL JAPANESE GARDENS
(For details on each garden, scroll down this page to check under the alphabetical listing or consult the excellent Bowdoin’s Japanese Gardens)
1 Kyoto Imperial Palace (Kyoto Gyosho)
2 Nijo Castle
3 Nanzenji Garden
6 Katsura Villa
10 Kinkakuji & Ginkakuji
ELSEWHERE IN JAPAN
11 Kenrokuen, Kanazawa
12 Ritsurin Koen, Takayama
13 Korakuen, Okayama
14 Sankei-en, Yokohama
15 Zuisenji, Kamakura
16 Kairakuen, Mito
17 Motsuji, Hiraizumi
18 Urakuen, Inuyama
19 Kokouen, Himeiji
20 Shukkei-en, Hiroshima
21 Joeiji, Yamaguchi
22 Komyozenji, Dazaifu
23 Suizenji koen, Kumamoto
24 Sengan-en, Kagoshima
25 Shikinaen, Naha in Okinawa 26 Mt Koya痴 temple gardens
TOKYO’S BEST JAPANESE GARDENS
27 Imperial Palace East Garden
29 Koishikawa Korakuen Denpoin Temple Garden
30 Hama Rikyu Park
A – Z LISTING OF JAPANESE GARDENS
*Azalea Park at the Takagi Castle, Nagasaki Prefecture. A park that has scenic views and a graceful stone bridge. Click on the Ken-ou area at the website.
Bampaku Kinen Koen in north Osaka was the site of the 1970 World Exposition, and has five museums and a Japanese garden. Access: Take the Midosuji subway line to Senri Chuo and change to the Osaka Monorail, which will take you to Bampaku Kinen Koen Station.
***Byodoin temple‘s Phoenix Hall, Kyoto, is among the most architecturally and historically significant examples of Buddhist architecture. And it features the most beautiful of Japan’s Pure Land Gardens, now rare but that was a garden typical of the Heian Period. Access: Take one of the many local or rapid trains to JR Uji Station on the JR Nara Line and it’s a 15 minute walk from there to Byodoin.
***Daitokuji Temple Complex, Kyoto is considered one of the foremost places of zen Buddhism in Japan, and a visit for the zen-style buildings and the Daisennin zen rock garden is a must. Access: Take the Karasuma Subway Line to Kitaoji Station, and then a 5 minute bus ride or 15 minute walk to the temple.
***Daigoji temple complex, another UNESCO World Heritage site in Kyoto, has the famous beautiful garden that was built for Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s cherry-blossom-viewing/hanami-party of 1598. Not to be missed is the Bentendo small temple hall that has a picturesque garden setting with a graceful bridge. Access: From Kyoto Station, take the JR Tokaido, Kosei or Biwako Line to Yamashina Station and transfer to the Tozai Subway Line. Get off at Daigoji which is the final station on the Tozai Subway Line, then walk for 15 minutes to the temple.
***Hama Rikyu, Detached Palace Garden on the edge of Tokyo Bay. One of Tokyo’s best. Once an imperial garden retreat, the extensive stroll garden has a tidal pond and wooded surroundings that were formerly duck-hunting grounds. There’s also a teahouse. Access: 15 minute from Shimbashi Station, Tokyo (Ginza Line and JR Yamanote Line). Can also be accessed by boat from Asakusa via the Sumida River Line. The contrast with Shiodome’s skyscrapers makes for dramatic interest. Read a review…
***Imperial Palace East Gardens. The East Gardens were formerly the innermost defense parts of Edo Castle, the honmaru (“main circle”) and ninomaru (“secondary circle”). Today none of the castle’s main buildings remain, except for the moats, walls, entrance gates and some guardhouses. A Japanese style garden has been created in place of the buildings of the ninomaru. The garden is famed for its irises, azaleas, pines and cherries (plus of course the view of the old honmaru (donjon) keep of the original palace. Access: Make your way to Otemachi Station on the Subway Chiyoda, Tozai, Marunouchi, Hanzomon and Mita Lines and walk a short way to the Otemon entrance, or from the Tokyo station it’s a 5-10 minute walk to the gardens (Nearest landmark – the Palace Hotel in the Marunouchi District).
***Joeiji temple, Yamaguchi prefecture. The temple (not to be confused with the one in Kamakura) is famous more for its zen garden than for the temple itself. This is because the garden was built by Sesshu, a household name in Japan ・he was the famous monk, painter and garden designer Sesshu. The garden is featured in one of Sesshu’s landscape paintings. Access: From Tokyo, you would probably take the hikari shinkansen (5 hours) westward to Shin-Yamaguchi Station and then another train (20 minutes) to the central Yamaguchi Station. Joeiji is 6 km north of the central station. For more detailed see access info and maps.
***Kaira-kuen in Mito, Ibaraki prefecture is one of the most famous gardens particularly for its 3,000 ume plum trees, (over 100 species) and their spectacular blossoms in early to mid March. There are also many of cherry trees.l
*** Komyozenji Dazaifu, is a zen temple famed for its beautiful rock garden built during the Kamakura period. Combine with a visit to the adjacent Dazaifu Tenmangu, a graveyard set in a beautiful garden. Access: From Tenjin Station in central Fukuoka (also known as Nishitetsu Fukuoka Station), take a Nishitetsu limited express to Futsukaichi Station (12 minutes) and take a connecting train to Dazaifu Station (5 minutes) via the Dazaifu Line and then it’s a 5 minute walk to Komyozenji. See access map
***Katsura Imperial Villa (Katsura Rikyu) is considered by historians and architects as one of the finest examples of pure Japanese architecture and garden design. To visit, you must join a guided tour by the Imperial Household Agency and obtain permission to visit the villa in advance at the office of the Imperial Household Agency next to the Kyoto Imperial palace. Reservations over the internet are also possible. Access: Take the Karasuma Subway Line from the Imperial Palace or Kyoto Station to Shijo Station and transfer to the Hankyu Kyoto Line to Katsura Station. From the station, it’s a short walk to the villa. Or take the direct bus no. 33 from Kyoto Station, getting off at Katsura Rikyu-mae and walk for about 5 minutes to the villa.
Ken-min-no-mori Prefectural Park, Onna Village, Okinawa. A park with camping facilities, slides, jungle gyms, and grassy areas. For a review and access info, see this link.
***Kenrokuen, Kanazawa. Considered by many to be one of “Japan’s three most beautiful landscape gardens” or the best of them all, because the garden is the embodiment of perfection since it is thought to possess the six characteristics for a perfect garden: spaciousness, seclusion, artificiality, antiquity, abundant water. Its name literally means “Garden of the Six Sublimities”. Once part of the Kanazawa Castle grounds, the garden has many bridges that run over ponds, streams. It also has the subtly arranged waterfalls, rocks, landscaped flowers and teahouses.
Kinkakuji in Kyoto, once intended as a new residence for retired shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu was converted into a zen temple in 1408 upon his death. The Golden Pavilion building that is covered in gold leaf is world-famous. The total effect of the Golden Pavilion in the beautiful zen grounds is stunning. Access: From Kyoto Station, take direct bus no. 101 or 205 or take the Karasuma Subway Line to Kitaoji Station and from the station, a short bus ride to the pavilion. / Ginkakuji (the Silver Pavilion) in Higashiyama, that was built by shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa, was modeled after the Kinkakuji. Access: Ginkakuji can be accessed by direct bus no. 4, 17 or 100 from Kyoto Station.
Kiyosumi Garden in Koto-ku, Tokyo. Rocks collected from all over Japan laid out in a landscape garden. Access: 15 minute walk from Monzen-Nakacho Subway Station on the Tozai Line.
***Koishikawa Korakuen, Tokyo. One of Tokyo’s oldest and most elegant of its traditional Japanese gardens from the early Edo Period. Korakuen reproduces famous landscapes from China using a pond, stones, plants and a man made hill. At its best during late November for the fall colors and in late February for the plum festival and when the weeping cherry tree is in full bloom. Access: 7 minute walk from Korakuen Subway Station (Marunouchi Line) or 7 minute walk from Iidabashi Station on the JR Yamanote Line and Tozai and Yurakucho Subway Lines.
***Kokoen garden, Himeji city, is famous for the nine separate gardens representing the different styles of the Edo period. It is a fairly new garden however, built only in 1992 on the former site of the feudal lords’ west residence (Nishi-Oyashiki). Features include a tea garden, a pine tree garden, flower garden, bamboo garden and pond with waterfall. Access: From Himeji Station, walk for 20 minutes or take a 5 minute bus ride along the Otemae-dori Street to the Himeji Castle and then it’s a short walk from the castle’s Otemon (main) gate. You can take a nozomi or hikari shinkansen from Tokyo via the JR Tokaido/Sanyo Shinkansen line to Himeji Station (3-3.5 hours).
***Korakuen, Okayama prefecture is ranked as among Japan痴 top three gardens. The landscape garden’s features include woods, ponds, teahouses and pavilions, several shrines. You would of course also want to visit Okayama Castle which is adjacent to Korakuen. Access: Go to JR Okayama Station where you’ll take a streetcar bound for Higashiyama, but get off at Shiroshite Station (the third stop) and then walk for about 5 minutes to the garden.
***Kyoto Imperial Palace (Kyoto Gyosho) used to the imperial residence until 1868. Access: From Kyoto Station, take a 10 minute-ride on the Karasuma Subway Line to Marutamachi or Imadegawa Station. Imadegawa Station is closer to the agency’s office. You need to apply for permission (bring your passport) to enter the grounds there and to join a guided tour.
Maizuru Park, the grounds adjacent to Fukuoka Castle and Ohori Park and its lake which used to be the moat forming part of Fukuoka’s castle defenses. The castle itself is but ruins but Maizuru park is a good place to visit in spring when the cherry blossoms are in full bloom while Ohori Park has boating facilities and offers a 2 km trail that is used for joggers or walks. There is a classy French restaurant for fine dining. Access: Jyo-nai, Chuo-ku, Fukuoka. A 10 min walk from Ohori-Koen subway stn./Ohori Koen, CHuo-ku is a 7 min walk from Ohori-koen subway stn.
Meigetsuin Temple and Garden, Kamakura. Also known as Ajisai-dera, the temple is famous for its garden of hydrangeas (but it also has a stunning bamboo grove). Access: From Kita-Kamakura station on the JR Yokosuka Line, it’s a 10 minute walk to reach there. Read a review
*Meiji Shrine Inner Garden, Tokyo. Famed for 100 varieties of Iris in mid-June. Access: 5 minute walk from Harajuku Station on JR Yamanote Line.
***Motsuji Garden, Hiraizumi. The garden is famous as one of Japan’s rare still-existing Pure Land Gardens (a garden which reproduces the Buddhist ideal of the pure land or “paradise” and which was popular during the Heian period (794-1185). Founded in 850 and under the Fujiwara clan’s rule, the temple complexes here thrived and rivaled Kyoto. Motsuji was once part of Tohoku’s largest temple complex. Unfortunately, Hiraizumi was razed to bits by Minamoto Yoritomo after it became a refuge to Yoritomo’s rival and brother Yoshitsune, though so today inside Motsuji’s garden, only the foundations of the former buildings are left. Access: From Tokyo, take the JR Tohoku shinkansen to Ichinoseki Station from which you take a 7 minute ride on the local JR Tohoku Line to Hiraizumi. From the JR Hiraizumi Station, Motsuji is a 10 minute walk away. You can make the whole journey in about a little over 3 hours.
Mount Koya’s temple complex gardens. The headquarters of the Shingon sect Kongbu-ji Temple has sprawling grounds with a stone garden that is said to rival Kyoto’s best gardens. Visitors also come here to see the mausoleum of Kukai, Oku-no-In, in the east of Koya town, which is lit by thousands of lanterns which are said to have been lit since Kukai’s death over 1000 years ago. The mausoleum and the adjacent graveyard has a picturesque setting among giant Japanese cedar (cryotomeria) trees with winding paths. Another attraction is the Garan temple complex designed by Kukai on the western side of the town. The UNESCO designated World Heritage site is located in a 800m-high valley amidst the 8 peaks of the mountain. Access: Take the train from Osaka’s Namba Station via the Nankai Electric Railway to Gokurakubashi at the base of the mountain. Koya’s limited expresses take 80 (1610yen) while ordinary expresses take 90 minutes (850yen). A cable car from Gokurakubashi brings you to the top in 5 minutes (360yen) and a bus takes you to town (5-15 minutes). See more access info.
***Nanzenji Garden, Kyoto The main building called the Seiryo-den, is famous for its beautiful rock garden and the fusuma decorated by art of the Kano school. Some of the subtemple’s smaller gardens such as that of Nanzenin are visited for the spectacular fall foliage. Access: Take bus no. 5 from Kyoto Station or the subway via the Tozai Line to Keage Station. Or from Karasuma Oike Station (on the Karasuma Line) take the subway Tozai Line to Keage Station and walk for 10 minutes to the temple.
***Nijo Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage site. The famous Ninomaru palace building, as it is now known, was completed in 1603 as a residence for the Tokugawa shogun and his successors, and is famous for its Momoyama architecture, decorated sliding doors and squeaky floors that warn of intruders. Access: Via the Tozai Subway Line from Nijojo-mae Station or from Kyoto Station, via Karasuma Subway Line to Karasuma Oike Station and transfer to the Tozai Line.
Rakusuien (Garden) in Fukuoka is a beautiful lush circular garden surrounded by a traditional Hakata-style stone wall. There is open to visitors a teahouse, a replica of the one used by Meiji-era merchant Shimozaki Chikamasa.
***Rikugien, Tokyo. Rikugien literally means “six poems garden” and reproduces in miniature 88 scenes from famous poems. It has a central pond with islands, man-made hills. Its attractions include azaleas, 18th century Japanese gardenscape, koi (carp) and teahouses. Access: The garden’s Someimon Gate is a 8-minute walk from Komagome Station on JR Yamanote Line or Subway Namboku Line.
***Ritsurin Koen, Takamatsu. The garden, considered to be one of Japan’s most beautiful traditional landscape gardens and photos of its graceful bridge may be found in every calendar on Japanese gardens. Access: From Takamatsu station, take a train to either the Kotoden Ritsurin-Koen Station (which is a 5-10 minute walk from the garden) or to the JR Ritsurinkoen-kitaguchi Station (which is a 5 minute walk).
***Ryoanji, Kyoto Perhaps the most famous and photographed garden for its karesansui (dry landscape or rock garden) style. Access: A 5 minute bus ride (or 15 minute walk west of Kinkakuji). Or take the Keifuku Kitano Line bound for Arashiyama, but get off at Ryoanji-michi Station and it’s a short walk to the temple.
***Saihoji (Koke-dera or Moss Temple) on the southern foothills of Arashiyama, has one of Kyoto’s oldest and greenest gardens. Designed by the priest Muso Kokushi (1275 – 1331), the garden features little islands of moss set in a pond surrounded by yet more moss. Permission must be obtained prior to entering the gardens.
***Sankei-en Garden is one of Yokohama’s most-visited attractions, that has a splendid garden (touted by some as no. 1 in the Kanto area) with lakes and ponds that houses a collection of many ancient architectural samples (restored and moved from elsewhere) including a gassho-zukuri farmhouse, tea room, pagoda. The Moon-viewing Festival attracts a cult-like following and photographers who throng the lake-side and the moon-viewing pavilion in search of the perfect moonscape. Access: Take the bus no. 8 from platform no. 2 at Yokohama Station’s east exit (near Sogo department store) or Sakuragicho-station or Chinatown, as the bus makes its way past Sakuragicho Station, Chinatown, and through Kannai before it reaches the Honmoku-Sankeien-mae bus stop 30 minutes later (the bus stop is announced in English). (website in English or Japanese)
***Senganen (or Isoteien), Kagoshima’s most popular attraction – is a Japanese style landscape garden which belonged, along with the buildings on the grounds to the powerful Shimazu clan that ruled Kagoshima for 700 years. From the JR Kagoshima Chuo Station, take the “Kagoshima City View” bus line that runs every 30 minutes to Senganen.
Shiba Rikyu, Detached Palace Garden Access: Adjoining Hamamatsucho Station, JR Yamanote Line. Get a bird’s eye view of the garden by going up the elevator to the top of the World Trade Centre building to the observatory there – access from the same station.
***Shukkei-en, Hiroshima means shrink-scenery gardenand as the name implies, it was intended as a miniaturized reproduction of Chinese scenery with its small islands, pond and bridges and bonsai-ed trees. A pleasant stroll garden originally built for the local feudal lord’s villa in the 17th century. Access: From Hiroshima Station, walk for 15 minutes or take streetcar no. 1, 2 or 6 to Hacchobori and then transfer to streetcar no. 9 to just in front of the garden at Shukkeien-mae. Access to Hiroshima from Tokyo can be had via JR Tokaido/Sanyo Shinkansen’s direct nozomi trains (4 hours).
***Shikinaen, Naha in Okinawa is the garden that complements the Shuri Castle, a 17th century residence of the Ryukyu kings. The expansive Japanese landscaped garden complements the simple and graceful wooden Okinawan-styled palace buildings with their red tile roofs which are also a UNESCO World Heritage building. Access: First you must get on a flight to Naha, then take bus no. 1 which goes directly to Shuri Castle. Alternatively, if taking no. 5, alight at “Shikinaen-mae” bus stop, and walk to the park.
***Tenryu-ji, Kyoto. A UNESCO World Heritage site, the temple is ranked first among Kyoto’s “Five Great Zen Temples”. Tenryuji’s traditional garden is considered one of the oldest of its kind that has survived unchanged in a temple that has a history that goes as far back as 1339. Access: From Kyoto Station, ride the JR Sagano Line (San-in Line) which takes about 15 minutes to the JR Saga-Arashiyama Station and get off at the and then walk for 5 minutes to Tenryuji.
*Urakuen, Inuyama The Japanese style garden at the foot of Inuyama Castle is celebrated mainly for the Jo-an teahouse. Visit both the garden and the castle which is noteworthy because its donjon is Japan’s oldest and also because it offers panoramic views of the surroundings. Access: Take a 15-20 minute walk from either Inuyama Station or Inuyama-Yuen Station (the latter is closer) to Urakuen.
***Zuisenji, far eastern part of Kamakura. One of Japan’s best known zen temples and gardens, the pure zen rock garden was designed by one of Japan’s most foremost garden designers – Zen priest Muso Kokushi. Access: From Kamakura Station, it takes about 45 minutes to walk there. It can also be reached by taking a wooded hiking trail that starts from Kenchoji and that takes about an hour or more to complete. Alternatively take a bus from the Kamakura-gu Shrine, and then a short walk to the temple.
OTHER NOTEWORTHY GARDENS IN TOKYO:
-Akatsuka Botanical Garden and Manyo Medical Plant Garden
-Denpoin Temple Garden
-Horikiri Iris Garden
-Nanushi Waterfalls Garden
-Nezu Institute of Fine Arts Garden
-Shin Edogawa Garden
-Tokyo Metropolitan Medical Plant Garden.
To know more about the elements of a Japanese Garden, consult this introductory online guide to Japanese Gardens; for reviews of parks with photos, a good resource is to be found at the Homeschooling in Japan’s Outings page.