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Traditional Tea in a Modern City: 4 of Tokyo’s Best Parks

2015.11.08

Ideal for a stroll, our recommended city parks

Spring and autumn are the perfect times to take a relaxing stroll among trees with either freshly sprouting leaves, or rich autumn colours. Tokyo has a number of parks ideal for both these seasons.

While located in the centre of Tokyo, these parks boast a quiet atmosphere and a size might be surprising given their location. What’s more, one can enjoy traditional green tea and sweets in their tea houses or tea rooms.

Feel free in a garden with both history and pedigree

1. Hamarikyu Gardens (Chuo ward)
Hamarikyu Gardens, located in Tokyo’s Chuo ward, is famous for being the location of Tokyo’s only seawater pond, “Shiori pond, as well as a 300 year old black pine planted during restorations carried out by Tokugawa Ienobu. It also boasts the Nakajima teahouse where one can drink tea by where bridge crosses the pond. A traditional green tea and Japanese sweet set can be had for only ¥510.

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Hamarikyu Gardens
TEL:03-3541-0200
Entry Fee:General Public: 300 JPY, 65 years and over: 150 JPY
Opening hours:9:00~16:30(Garden closes at 17:00)
http://teien.tokyo-park.or.jp/en/hama-rikyu/index.html

2.Rikugi-en (Bunkyo ward)
Bunkyo ward’s Rikugi-en, along with Koishikawa Kōrakuen Garden, is one of two surviving Edo period Clan Gardens in Tokyo. Known as a “strolling, mountain and pond-style garden”, the centre point is a stunning pond. Overlooking the quiet pond stands the popular “Fukiage teahouse”.  A green tea and Japanese sweet set here also costs ¥510, with the seasonal “namagashi” (Japanese sweets used in a tea ceremony) being a popular choice.

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Rikugi-en
TEL 03-3941-2222
Entry Fee:General Public: 300 JPY, 65 years and over: 150 JPY
Opening hours:9:00~16:30(Garden closes at 17:00)
http://teien.tokyo-park.or.jp/en/rikugien/index.html

3. Kyu-Iwasaki-tei Gardens (Taito ward)
Kyu-Iwasaki-tei Gardens, located in Tokyo’s Taito ward, is a popular spot that while in the heart of the city still manages to stretch over 5,000 square meters, and borrows from the architectural styles of 19th century Europe.
Aside from the green tea available in the gardens’ tea house, one can also try a green tea flavoured affogato.

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Kyu-Iwasaki-tei Gardens
TEL:03-3823-8340
Entry Fee:General Public: 400 JPY, 65 years and over: 200 JPY
Opening hours:9:00~16:30(Garden closes at 17:00)
http://teien.tokyo-park.or.jp/en/kyu-iwasaki/index.html

4. Shinjuku Gyoen(Shinjuku ward)
Shinjuku Gyoen is known for it’s unique landscape that combines a French garden shape, English garden scenery, and a Japanese garden into one. In addition, the garden is home to many historical structures related to the emperor and imperial family, one of which is the Rakutei teahouse, where a green tea and Japanese sweet set costs ¥700. This structure was originally built as a royal resting place for the emperor in the Meiji period, when it was the location of a duck hunting ground. However it was destroyed by bombing raids in 1945, and rebuilt in 1987. A building of class and refinement, one can enjoy tea at their leisure.

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Shinjuku Gyoen

Entry Fee: Adults 300 JPY, Elementary and middle school students 50 JPY, infants free.
Opening hours:9:00~16:00(Garden closes at 16:30)
Closed:Monday (Tuesday in cases where Monday is a national holiday), Year end and new year period (12/29~1/3)
https://www.env.go.jp/garden/shinjukugyoen/english/index.html

The tea houses mentioned above are suitable for even those unsure of the manners required for the traditional tea ceremony. Be it among the sakura blossoms of spring, or vivid red leaves of autumn, why not take a stroll before relaxing with some traditional green tea?

Photo: © Tokyo Metropolitan Park Association