Kyu Shiba Rikyu Gardens – a photographer’s guide

Kyu Shiba Rikyu Gardens snow lantern
A snow lantern at Kyu Shiba Rikyu Gardens.

Kyu Shiba Rikyu Gardens has been called the most beautiful park in Tokyo. It is a fairly accurate comment. It has a large pond, islands, trees, rambling paths, and flowers for every season. And on top of that, with some skyscrapers not too far away, it has a great backdrop. It’s popular for photographers!

There is a pond with carp and turtles. It has three islands, with bridges running to two of them, which is fun to explore. Nakajima (the one in the center) allows you to shoot 360′. You can even take pictures of the wildlife on and in the water.

What I love most about the park is what is inside and outside. Over recent years, there has been much construction nearby. Those buildings provide great contrast. It’s the twenty-first century Tokyo against the Edo Japan of more than one hundred years ago.

The skyscrapers and pond together make for great photographs. Flowers and towers together. And on a good day, if the wind and sun cooperate, you can get some great reflections in the water. For this type of shot, Kyu Shiba Rikyu Gardens is excellent.

white cherry blossom trees and Tokyo Tower
The is Tokyo Tower between the buildings.

Another thing I like about the park is the several small hills. They are easy to climb and offer a change of perspective once you get to the top. Some of their paths are concrete, so going up shouldn’t be difficult.

If you are lucky, you can see couples doing their pre-marriage wedding photos. A photographer and makeup artist accompany them. With the girl in a kimono and her husband-to-be in a hakama, they make for great photos. This place is popular for these photoshoots. Please ask their permission before taking pictures close-up, though.

blue hydrangea bush
The park is famous for hydrangeas too.

Why do photographers like Kyu Shiba Rikyu Gardens?

  • Cherry blossoms in spring
  • City views
  • Hydrangeas in summer
  • Park wildlife (birds and turtles)
  • Tokyo Tower (not a great view, though)
  • Tōrō (giant stone lanterns)
people picnicking under cherry blossom trees
Picnicking at Kyu Shiba Rikyu Gardens.

Photography tips

  • No tripods allowed.
  • For building reflections in the pond, go to its south end and look north for them.
  • Photographs of Tokyo Tower aren’t easy to get as some skyscrapers block views. You’ll need to walk around and find the best spots.
  • The tall buildings cast shadows over the park at different times of the day. That can be problematic.
  • The best time to visit the park is spring (cherry blossoms) or autumn (the leaves!).
  • On my last visit (March 23, 2023), there was some construction work at Kyu Shiba. There were barriers, concrete, etc. I had to work around those things.

Other photo spots near Kyu Shiba Rikyu Gardens

Kyu Shiba Rikyu Gardens details

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

Wrapping up

Kyu Shiba Rikyu is fantastic for photography! Unfortunately, it’s lost a few points recently. That is due to the view of Tokyo Tower being lost. If it were still possible to get pictures of it, it would rank higher. That is a real pity. Anyway, it is what it is.

Kyu Shiba’s best thing is its size.  It’s compact so you won’t need much time there. That is probably a good thing as Tokyo Tower and Hama Rikyu Gardens aren’t far away. Actually, many other good photo spots are near. You’ll be able to get some pics and move to your next location. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below.

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