Summer is slowly warming up our hearts, and we’re constantly looking for an excuse to get outside and soak up the sun. Yes, the cherry blossoms were beautiful and a classic start to Japanese spring, but there’s more to Tokyo than the little pink petals. For fans of the outdoors, here is a roundup for eight beautiful parks in the city, perfect for those who need a breath of fresh air but can’t afford to take a day off (we’ve all been there).
The Institute for Nature Study
With the goal to keep Japan’s rich flora intact within metropolitan Tokyo, the Institute for Nature Study is located in the heart of the city, in Minato ward. With a mix of various trees and plants, the Institute is absolutely beautiful to visit, no matter the season – see the leaves changing in the fall, and the buds blossom in the spring. It’s a place where green thumbs will love to test their knowledge and artists can sharpen their skills (and you will see many of them).
Odaiba Seaside Park
There aren’t many seaside parks in Tokyo. If you’re in need of a beach day, you’ll be more lucky heading for Chiba or Enoshima. Odaiba is the best urban beach day you can find. With loads of green space, it’s perfect if you’re looking to go on an all-day stroll with a couple of interesting stops along the way, from the renown Gundam to a chiba-sized replica of New York’s Statue of Liberty.
For inspiration on what to do while you’re these, consult our family-friendly area guide here.
Located right between Hamamatsucho and Shinbashi stations along the JR Yamanote line, the former Imperial Gardens offer some of the most stunning views of green spaces in Tokyo. From a field of bright, yellow rapeseeds contrasting with the blue of the office buildings behind it, to a perfectly maintained traditional Japanese garden. Because it’s so close to the water, you’re sure to always have a soft breeze to keep you cool, and being next to big stations gives visitors the luxury to stop by for dinner on the way home.
Nezu Museum Garden
The Nezu Museum is one of the many small but priceless galleries in Tokyo, with their collection featuring works from the biggest names in pre-modern Japanese art. But their garden is a real gem, hidden behind the luxury stores of Omotesando. Find beautiful statues and monuments through the branches, and a beautiful tea house among the trees. In the spring, irises bloom in dozens, creating a vibrant sea of purple at the center of the garden.
While not technically a park, Aoyama Cemetery has been notoriously known as the perfect place to go for a long, meditative walk. We’re not suggesting you walk right through the rows of tombstones, but the paths surrounding the lots are absolutely beautiful. Aoyama Cemetery is also a popular cherry blossom viewing spot, with the trees creating an eerie sakura tunnel.
If you don’t mind a little commuting, Mizumoto Park in Katsushika Ward is a beautiful park and famous among nature photographers. With many flower beds to capture, a walk through the park is colorful throughout the spring and summer. In the fall, the park is a popular destination to see the leaves change to red and orange. Half of Mizumoto park is open field, perfect for those with kids or who want to lounge around on a Sunday afternoon; the other half is lush forests.
Showa Memorial Park
Especially in the spring and summer time, the Showa Memorial Park is simply fun. With bright fields of poppies and tulips to brighten your day, it’s a great spot to be if you’re feeling a little down. This one is definitely more for those who want to take a walk and less for those who would rather sit and enjoy the view. In the winter, it’s home to one of Tokyo’s many illuminations.
For those who don’t want to relax but burn some serious calories amidst nature, Todoroki Valley is the perfect place to go for those who would rather not have to commute too long. Located in Setagaya Ward, it is often referred to as Tokyo’s hidden secret and the trail takes between 20 and 30 minutes to complete – great if you’ve been meaning to get back into hiking. The park is filled with picturesque red bridges and secret shrines.