Kyu Shiba Rikyu Gardens has been called the most beautiful park in Tokyo. I think it is a pretty accurate comment as even though it is a very small park, it is indeed beautiful. The garden has a large pond with some islands, lots of trees everywhere, rambling paths and flowers for every season. And on top of that, with the World Trade Center and Tokyo Tower not too far away, it has a great backdrop. I've been to this park numerous times and enjoy it immensely.
The pond would have to be the centerpiece. It is quite large, filled with carp and turtles. There are three islands in it with bridges running to two of them, which makes walking around a lot of fun, especially with a camera. Go to Nakajima (the island in the centre) over one of the bridges and you can shoot 360'. With wildlife that gets up close to the rocks, you can get a lot of good pictures.
For myself though, the thing l love most about Kyu-Shiba is what surrounds it. There are quite a few huge buildings so close and in recent years construction of new ones continue. They provide such a great contrast. To see those buildings tower over the pond is pretty awesome. And if you are really lucky with the wind and sun you can get some great reflections in the water. The only negative thing I can say about them is a new building, Crea Tower, which is next to the World Trade Center has blocked the view of Tokyo Tower from some parts of the park.
Another thing I like about Kyu-Shiba is that it has several small hills. They are quite easy to climb and offer a change of perspective once you get to the top. Just be careful climbing up some of them as they can be a bit slippery after some rain.
The park is a great place to see couples take their pre-marriage wedding photos. Usually they walk around with their photographer and makeup artist and they take photos at the best spots. With the girl in a kimono and her husband-to-be in a hakama they make for some great photos. Almost every time I've been to Shiba Rikyu I've seen a couple do a pre-wedding photo shoot there. Just make sure to ask their permission before taking pictures close-up though.
Overall, Kyu-Shiba-rikyu Gardens is a pretty good place to go as it has so much to see. On top of that it only costs 150 yen. After you finish there, if you had nothing else planned, you could also check out the temple of Zojoji and Tokyo Tower, which are very close. There is another park not too far away, Hama-Rikyu Gardens which is much larger and just as beautiful but quite different in layout. Kyu-Shiba's website can be seen here.
How do you get to Kyu-Shiba Rikyu Gardens?
Kyu Shiba Rikyu Gardens are extremely easy to get to. Use the Yamanote line to get to JR Hamamatsucho Station and leave via the North exit. The gardens are just a one minute walk away. Here is a Google map to help you:
The gardens are open from 9am to 5pm (last entry at 4:30pm). And as with all parks run by the Tokyo Metropolitan Park Association, they are closed from December 29 to January 3.
The price of admission into the park is 150 yen.
If you enjoyed this article you could have look at:
Edo-Tokyo Museum - it covers all of Tokyo's history from when it was a small fishing village right up to today
Imperial Palace - the home of Japan's Emperor
Japan Open-Air Folk House Museum - a mostly outdoors museum where you learn more about how the Japanese used to live
Rikugien - another of Tokyo's many beautiful parks
Seaside Top - one of Tokyo's older observatory's but still a good one!