Home » The best photo guide for Shinjuku Gyoen

The best photo guide for Shinjuku Gyoen

Shinjuku Gyoen is a popular park in Tokyo.  It is a great place to rest and relax even though it is near one of the world’s busiest train stations. But for photographers like me, it is a terrific place.  You can find something interesting there for every season.

cherry blossom tree

The park is spacious.  With its natural beauty, it is perfect for picnics.  Even in the cooler months, people still have them on the lawns. 

chrysanthemum flowers

Spring and autumn are especially popular because they are the flower seasons.  The most popular of which are the cherry blossoms.  To be honest, I don’t like crowds, but I still recommend this place.  The pictures are worth it. 

Shinjuku Gyoen has three areas.  They are:

  1. Japanese Traditional Garden – has some large ponds with bridges.  They give it that “Japan” feeling. 
  2. French Formal –  is very romantic with its rose garden and lanes filled with sycamore trees.  In autumn, the trees lose their leaves and cover the ground. Both are great for photographs.  Photographers and their models often use it.
  3. English Landscape – it has a huge lawn with Nishi-Shinjuku’s skyscrapers popping up over the trees.  Nature versus urbanity!   The contrast is superb. 
Shinjuku Gyoen English Landscape Garden
The enormous lawn of the English Landscape Garden.

A brief history of Shinjuku Gyoen

  • Hideyoshi Toyotomi gave the area to the Naitō clan.  They built a residence and garden there during the early Edo period.  After the Meiji Restoration, the house and grounds became an experimental agricultural center. 
  • A botanical garden followed, only to become an imperial garden in 1879.  Like much of Tokyo, the air raids of World War II destroyed the gardens. Fortunately, they were rebuilt.
  • On May 21, 1949, the garden became a public park.  Since January 2001, the Ministry of Environment has controlled it.  Its official English name is “Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden.”  Gyoen means “imperial garden.”
  • In 1989, the park was the site chosen for the funeral rites of Emperor Shōwa.  His grave is at Musashi Imperial Graveyard near Mount Takao.
cherry blossoms hanging from tree

Why do photographers like Shinjuku Gyoen?

  1. The main attraction is the cherry blossoms in spring.  Shinjuku Gyoen’s are among the best in Tokyo.  People come from all over the world to see them!
  2. There is a greenhouse that houses over 500 species of plants.  It is a very brilliant structure, made of glass.  Inside can get steamy, so be careful of moisture on your lens.
  3. Chrysanthemums festival in autumn
  4. Roses in spring and autumn at the French Formal Garden
  5. Starbucks for a break
  6. Shinjuku skyline
  7. Taiwan Pavilion.  Japanese living in Taiwan donated it to commemorate Crown Prince Hirohito’s wedding.
Chrysanthemums and NTT DOCOMO Yoyogi building

Photography tips

  • Spring and autumn are the best seasons for flowers.
  • It can get very crowded. You might need to wait if you want your photo free of people.
  • Be careful with cameras inside the greenhouse.  High temperatures and humidity inside might cause moisture to condense on lenses.
  • The park can be brutally hot in summer, so keep hydrated.

Where is Shinjuku Gyoen?

It is a ten-minute walk from JR Shinjuku station`s south exit.  Other stations are nearby, but this one is the most convenient.

If you need a little extra help, here is a Google map:

Opening hours

  • From August 1 to August 28, the park opens at 7:00 am on Saturdays, Sundays, and national holidays.  Entry will only be through the Shinjuku gate till 9 am.  After that time, all gates will be open.
  • From October 1 to March 14, Shinjuku Gyoen is open from 9 am to 4:00 pm, with the gates closing at 4:30 pm.  The greenhouse is open from 9:30 am to 3:30 pm, with the doors closing at 4 pm.
  • From March 15 to September 30, it is open 9 am to 5:30 pm, with the gates closing at 6 pm.  The greenhouse is open from 9 am to 5:00 pm, with doors closing at 5:30 pm.
  • Finally, from July 1 to August 20, it is open from 9 am to 6:30 pm, with the gates closing at 7 pm.  The greenhouse is open from 9:30 am to 6 pm, with the doors closing at 6:30 pm.
  • Shinjuku Gyoen is closed Mondays.  But, it is open every day during the cherry blossom and the chrysanthemum seasons.
  • The greenhouse is open from 9:30 am to 4 pm, with the last admittance at 3:30 pm.
  • Over the New Year period, the park is closed from December 26 to January 11. 
French Formal Garden at Shinjuku Garden
Autumn in one of the lanes of the French Formal Garden.

How big is Shinjuku Gyoen?

It is large.  From the Shinjuku gate to the far end, it is at least a kilometer, with a circumference of 3.5 km.  That can make for a long trip if you need to go back to  Shinjuku station (which most people do).  The park has few hills, except on the Japanese Traditional Garden side.  It is an easy place to walk.

red rose

Admission costs

Tickets are 500 yen, and you can pre-book them through this website.

Limited tickets

Admissions are limited to 2000 tickets per hour.  If numbers exceed that, entry to the park will be restricted.

Shinjuku Gyoen cherry blossoms

Other photo spots in the area

Wrapping Up

I’m sure this park will impress you.  It has something for every season.  The flowers on display are amongst the best in Tokyo.  It is a beautiful place and should be on every photographer’s itinerary.  You could easily spend several hours there exploring every nook and cranny.

Shinjuku Gyoen is a true urban oasis.   So, while taking photos there, take a break from time to time.  Sit on the grass and enjoy the view.  I’m sure you’ll love it. You can see its website here.

Taiwan Pavilion at Shinjuku Gyoen

My bonus tip

Shinjuku Gyoen has a belt of trees around it.  So if you stand in the middle of the park on a winter’s day, the city sounds will be muted.  It is a tremendous feeling.

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