Tokyo may be a metropolis, but it’s no concrete jungle. Some of Japan’s most beautiful landscapes can be found right in the city.
Tokyo often conjures up images of a bright, neon playground, but nestled among the flashy skyscrapers are a plethora of natural havens. The city is sprinkled with lush gardens and parks that bloom with life in spring and blaze with colour in autumn.
Rikugien Garden is right off of Tokyo’s central Yamanote train line. Designed around 1700 by a Tokugawa shogun, the garden is quite large: it’s estimated to take about an hour to stroll the whole area. Rikugien is especially celebrated for its stunning autumn scenery, including romantic nighttime illuminations in the fall.
Showa Memorial Park is about a 30-minute train ride from the city centre. It was opened in the 80s to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Emperor Showa’s reign. With wide-open lawns and lots of trees for shade it’s the perfect spot for picnics—especially under the delicate cherry blossoms in spring. At 160 hectares, walking the whole park would be a challenge, but bicycle rentals are available for a reasonable fee. The bike trails are the best way to experience this expansive park in its entirety—from the dynamic foliage to the gorgeous seasonal flower beds.
Koishikawa Korakuen garden is a true oasis in the city. It sits next to the hustle and bustle of Tokyo Dome stadium, but the moment you set foot inside this garden the surrounding noise is muffled by the trees, leaving only serene quiet and birdsong.
For those looking for something more rigorous than a stroll, Mt. Takao and the Todoroki Gorge are great for hiking. Mt. Takao is roughly an hour outside of central Tokyo and has a number of hiking trails of varying difficulty. And the Todoroki Gorge is Tokyo’s only natural ravine. Instead of the sculpted elegance of Tokyo’s gardens, Todoroki Gorge offers a wilder, less designed but equally attractive beauty. A musical river, hidden temples and a peaceful waterfall add to the enchanting ambience of the ravine.
Only in Tokyo are the clean lines of the city so seamlessly blended with the vibrant beauty of nature.
Official Tokyo Travel Guide: gotokyo.org
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