Kyu Shiba Rikyu Gardens has been called the most beautiful park in Tokyo. I think it is an accurate comment. It has a large pond, some islands, lots of trees, 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. It doesn’t get better than this!
A pond, complete with carp and turtles, is the centerpiece. It has three islands, with bridges running to two of them, and that makes walking around a lot of fun as there is much to explore. Go to Nakajima (the island in the centre) over one of the bridges and you can shoot 360'. With fish, turtles and birds getting up close to the rocks, you can get some nice pictures.
What I love most about the park, is not only what is inside, but also on the outside. Over recent years a few huge buildings near it, have been, and still are being constructed. They provide such a great contrast. To see those buildings tower over the pond is inspiring. And on a good day if the wind and sun cooperate, you can get some great reflections in the pond.
Another thing I like about it is that there are 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 them as they can be a bit slippery after rain.
And if you are lucky you might be able to see couples doing their pre-marriage wedding photos. Usually they are accompanied by a photographer and makeup artist. 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 people do a pre-wedding photo shoot there. Just make sure to ask their permission before taking pictures close-up though.
This park has almost perfect, but not quite! Crea Tower, a new building under construction next to the World Trade Center, has blocked the view of Tokyo Tower from some parts of the park. That is a real pity.
Overall, Kyu-Shiba-rikyu Gardens is a good place to to see and only costs 150 yen. After you finish there, you could check out the temple of Zojoji and Tokyo Tower, which are very close. There is another park, Hama-Rikyu Gardens which is much larger and very beautiful but quite different in layout, not too far away. Kyu-Shiba's website can be seen here.
How do you get to Kyu-Shiba Rikyu Gardens?
The park is easy to find. Use the Yamanote line to get to JR Hamamatsucho Station and leave via the North exit. Kyu-Shiba is just a one-minute 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!