Hotel Chinzanso – the Sea of Clouds garden

Hotel Chinzanso pagoda garden view
Entsukaku pagoda is on the hill and Sea of Clouds is underneath.

Hotel Chinzanso is one of Tokyo’s most luxurious places to stay. It’s a favorite of many guests. I haven’t stayed there, but I’ve visited it. And I can say it has a huge drawcard for photographers. The garden has a Sea of Clouds. What’s that? Well, it is something unique and beautiful.

The garden is superb. It ranks right up there with others in Tokyo. There is so much in it. It has everything you’d want in a Japanese garden. Might it replace Shinjuku Gyoen or Showa Memorial Park? Maybe not, but I’m sure you’d enjoy it. Make sure to read this article entirely. Chinzanso has one major drawback for non-guests.

autumn maple leaves
Autumn at Hotel Chinzanso.

What is the Hotel Chinzanso Sea of Clouds?

The Sea of Clouds is a mist. It is artificially created and covers the hotel’s pond and around it. I’m sure you’ve seen images of mist-covered mountains and lakes. That is the effect at Hotel Chinzanso.

Even during the daytime, the effect is impressive. I haven’t seen it at night, but the pictures look incredible. The mists rise about twice an hour. In the early evening, it happens more. You won’t have to wait long.

Hotel Chinzanso misted path
Imagination this path lit at night!

What is the garden like?

The garden is beautiful. It’s filled with things that make it an unmistakable Japanese beauty. But there is a problem. It’s on a big hill. You’ll be going up and down a lot. Stairs are everywhere.

Shiratama Inari Shrine
Shiratama Inari Shrine.

I’m not complaining. It is a garden, after all, and we need to walk in it. You need to be aware of these things before you go.

At the bottom is the garden. Everything of interest is above it. That is just as well. You’ll get the best photos of the sea of clouds from above.

What can you see in the Hotel Chinzanso garden?

  • Benkei Bridge
  • Entsukaku pagoda
  • Famous trees
  • Garden restaurants
  • Pond in the middle
  • Seven Gods of Luck statues throughout the garden
  • Shrines with a torii gate
  • Weddings (the hotel has several chapels)
Entsukaku pagoda
Entsukaku pagoda.

Best spot for Sea of Clouds photographs

The above list is extensive. And each item on it is worth a photo. But the Entsukaku pagoda will be the priority for most people. With the pond in the foreground, it makes a great picture.

And the best place to take it is from the balcony-type area at the rear of the hotel. You need to walk through the building to access it. The best view is there.

A note of caution about the garden

When the Sea of Clouds is activated, a lot of water is put into the air. It makes the ground in the garden wet. Be careful in case you slip.

Hotel Chinzanso details

See the hotel’s location, opening hours, and other details on the official website.

Wrapping up

The Sea of Clouds is a great Tokyo photography spot. I can’t wait to go again. But next time I do, it will be in the evening. Those pictures should look spectacular with the ground lit up. So expect those to be here one day.

Hotel Chinzanso garden pond
The hotel and its pond.

But the garden at Hotel Chinzanso is more than that. There are so many things sprinkled around it. You could finish a photo session there and want to go back again. It is an incredible place.

One last thing. And this isn’t so good. On my way out of the hotel, I noticed a sign I didn’t see upon entry. You need to be a guest or have a reason for going there, like a restaurant reservation. The general public can’t walk in and use the facilities willy-nilly. I was lucky no one stopped me. Oops. But now I know there are entry requirements.

The entry requirements might be due to the pandemic a few years ago. Hopefully, they will disappear one day. It would be good if everyone could enjoy the Sea of Clouds.

Hotel Chinzanso and its Sea of Clouds camera gear:

  • Camera Body: Fujifilm X-T3
  • Lenses: Fujifilm XF 10-24mm f/4 R OIS and XF 16-55mm F2.8 R LM WR

For articles about nearby photo spots, look at:

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