Do you want to visit a beautiful garden in Tokyo?
If you’re like me and love the hustle and bustle of the city, but you’d like a serene place to escape to, I have the place for you.
There are many gorgeous parks and gardens in Tokyo, but if you’re going to be in or near Shibuya, then you must visit Meiji Jingu Inner Garden (Gyoen).
Utsusemino Yoyogi no sato wa Shizukanite Miyako no hokano Kokochi koso sure
(Deep in the woodland of Yoyogi, the quietude creates an illusion of seclusion from the city.)
~ Waka poetry written by Emperor Meiji in honor of the garden
The Meiji Jingu Garden in Tokyo is centrally located in Shibuya City. This garden, once known as Yoyogi Garden, is a tranquil place. It’s green. It’s cool. It’s serene.
It is easy to get to with two nearby train stations: Shinjuku Station and Harajuku Station. The shrine and garden are next to Yoyogi Park which is a large public park that was the Olympic Village for the 1964 Summer Olympics.
There are two entrance gates. The North Gate is nearest to the shrine, and the East Gate is closest to the Harajuku exit.
Although it is a part of the Meiji Jingu Shrine, it requires a separate entrance fee of 500 yen, which is currently about $5 USD.
When my husband and I visited, we took the train to Shinjuku Station and walked from there to the shrine. You can read about my visit to the shrine here (post coming soon).
After our stroll around the shrine, we visited the Inner Garden through the North Gate and exited at the East Gate.
From there, we walked through the crazy Harajuku area which was at the other end of the spectrum: crowded, noisy, and a little chaotic, but oh so fun.
What’s in Meiji Jingu Inner Garden?
Many people come to the Inner Garden to see the irises in bloom, but there is more than a field of irises there, and it can be visited throughout the year for an ever-changing landscape.
There’s a lot of history, as well. It dates back to the Edo Period (1603-1867) and eventually belonged to the Imperial Family.
I love that Emperor Meiji designed this garden to show his respect and consideration for his consort, Empress Shoken.
And now to the irises!
The Iris Garden
Back in the Edo Period, the iris garden was a training field; Samurai’s children worked the rice paddies to learn the difficulties and importance of cultivating rice. Fun, right?
Later, in 1893, Emperor Meiji had the rice fields turned into a beautiful garden of irises for Empress Shoken.
According to the Meiji Jingu website, the garden has 1500 iris plants (150 different varieties in an array of blues, purples, and white). Staff of the garden count the number of blossoms every day!
Best Time to Visit
The irises begin to bloom in late May or early June with peak blossoming from mid-June to late June. Lucky for us, we were there at the perfect time!
If you love irises, take a look at my post about the beautiful Schreiner’s Iris Garden in Oregon, USA.
Emperor Meiji also had a teahouse built for the Empress as a resting spot for her when she visited the garden.
He must have really liked Empress Shoken, and rightly so, because she was awesome.
By all accounts she was a gifted intellectual who was instrumental in advocating for women’s education, she took over some of her husband’s duties when he was ill, and she established the Japanese Red Cross. Go, Empress Shoken!
Kiyomasa’s Well (Kiyomasa no Ido)
Another popular spot in this garden is Kiyomasa’s Well. It is said that Kiyomasa Kato, a famous Samurai, made this well from the natural spring.
Additionally, the water is a constant 15° C all year long, and it waters the iris garden as it flows down to the pond and beyond.
Until recently, the water from the well was used in tea ceremonies. I wonder why they stopped using it?
Expect a Queue
When visiting, you can expect a queue to see the well. Thankfully, the line is under the shade of trees, so it is a nice cool spot as you make your way to the front of the line.
A garden employee allows three people at a time to crouch down and dip their hands into the refreshing water. Just don’t put your hands inside the well, like someone I know. Not mentioning any names…ahem!
Anyway, can you imagine all the people who have come to this place for a sip of water? Thirsty Samurais (and their children), Shoguns, and the Imperial Family are just a few.
You, however, are not allowed to quench your thirst here (it is forbidden), so make sure you bring your own water bottle (refillable, of course) to stay hydrated!
The temperature was pretty nice the day we visited, but when the sun is out, it can get quite warm.
Azalea Garden (Tsutsuji-yama) & South Pond (Nan-chi Pond)
Throughout the garden, there are pink azaleas, rhododendrons, and wisteria that bloom in April. The garden must be beautiful at that time of year.
Water lilies bloom from June to September at the South Pond. You can also see fish, turtles, kingfishers, and herons in the area.
I spotted a couple of turtles sunning on a log. So cute!
Don’t forget to get your commemorative stamp on your way in or out. It’s located at the North Gate next to where you pay to get into the garden.
Accommodation in Tokyo
We stayed at Ito Ryokan, a traditional Japanese guest house while in central Tokyo. It’s a great way to embrace Japanese culture.
Have you visited any gardens in Tokyo?
If you visit or have visited the Meiji Jingu Inner Garden or other gardens in Tokyo, let me know in the comments below!
And don’t forget to Pin this for reference later…
Until next time…