I love Tokyo. There’s no doubt about it. There’s so much to do, explore and yummy food to eat. It’s truly a city that does not turn off. Which at times, can be overstimulating, exhausting and overwhelming (kinda like family during the holidays, lol).
What’s fantastic about this metropolis, is the easy ability and accessibility to escape to nature deep within the city centre.
In contrast to Tokyo’s skyscrapers, chaotic pedestrian walkways and bright neon signs that fill up every inch of a picture. Parks, gardens, and nature in Tokyo are beautifully folded into the landscape. And when I visit Tokyo, I tend to retreat to nature for a quick recharge (and to hear my inner voice again).
There’s something about the serenity, breathing in nature, listening to waterfalls, birds and smelling the trees that increases my love for Tokyo more and more.
A few reasons, why it’s important to connect with nature.
-It’s a chance to learn about new flora and fauna.
-It’s a great setting to rest your feet and recharge your energy.
-It’s a great opportunity to take a moment, to be in the moment.
-It’s a perfect spot to have a snack or picnic and watch the world go by.
-Being in nature can decrease stress, negativity and reduce anxiety.
-It’s a place to beat the heat and step into the shade.
-It’s a great place to escape the tall buildings and replace them with tall trees.
-It’s a chance to find inner calmness and serenity inside city walls.
-Engaging with nature has positive benefits to well being and happiness.
-Learn about the history of the nature park and garden.
-Walking and sitting in nature has everyday and long term physical health benefits.
Places to find nature in Tokyo.
Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden
Seeing Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden today. One would never of guessed this well, manicured plot of land is a survivor from being destroyed during World War II. After turning over ownership from the Imperial Family to Japan’s Ministry of the Environment. The government opened the gardens in 1946 to the public.
Originally, this area was residence to the Naitō family. A feudal family (known to have a network with a samurai clan) during the Edo period in 1603 to 1868.
Today it is the largest and most visited national park in Tokyo. Almost 60 hectares (148 acres) that spans with entrance points in Shiboya and Shinjuku.
The plot of land is home to 3 large gardens; a traditional Japanese (being one of the oldest in Tokyo), a French formal garden and an English garden.
Yoyogi Park and Meiji Shrine
Yoyogi park and Meiji Shrine is a two-fer. Both located in Shibuya and connecting to Harajuku Station. These two plots of land are adjacent to each other. The combined area is 124 hectares (310 acres) of wooded forest, ponds, gardens and open space.
This area hosts a lot of festivals, ceremonies and celebrations.
Before becoming a lovely city park in 1967. Yoyogi Park was a residential area for US military personnel, then in 1964 served as the Olympic Village for the Tokyo Olympics.
Meiji Shrine will be celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2020. Which will be coinciding with Tokyo hosting the 2020 Summer Olympics. This special shrine was built in 1920 in honor and dedication to Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken. 100,000 trees were planted on what was once barren area of land, that has now formed a heavily forested area next to the bustling area of Shibuya and Harajuku.
The Imperial Palace in Chiyoda City, is where the Imperial Family have resided since 1868. Surrounded by a moat and tall stone walls, the grounds cover Kitanomaru Park.
Though a very touristy area to visit. It’s vast openness still provides space. Easily separating you from skyscrapers, massive crowds and the bustling streets of city life.
Named after a Japanese scientist and NASDA astronaut (veteran of 2 NASA space shuttle missions) Dr. Mamoru Mohri. This traditional Japanese style garden is a well known to see the cherry blossoms, when they are in full bloom.
Located in a business hub in Roppongi Hills, Mori Garden is where you will find Tokyo’s heart.
Well, a heart structure named “Kin no Kokoro” (by Jean-Michel Othoniel).
Mori Garden is a beautiful oasis with a pond, little waterfalls, a fish pond and greenery.
The fish in the pond are said to be the offspring of the fish that Dr. Mohri brought with him to space. Baby Space Fish! Doo, doo, doo, doo doo….no?
In the busiest section of Roppongi is Hinokicho park. It’s a great spot to catch a bit of tranquility after shopping in Tokyo Midtown Mall.
Pick up a lunch at any Midtown food cafes and have a lovely break on one of its many benches.
The park has nice open spaces with paths leading you to small calming waterfalls. There’s also a playground areas for children.
There are plenty of shrines in Japan. Over 81,000 shrines, in fact. In the city, there’s no exception. Shrines seem to be on every street and alley way. I found a shrine (picture below) as I was meandering around Tokyo’s side streets.
At a first, it could have been easily passed. But I noticed how there was a break between buildings and a small entrance was surrounded by trees. This area was perfect! No one in sight. I felt completely comfortable and surrounded by nature.
There was a little bridge that went over a little busy stream. And paths that led up and around to the shrine.
Birds were bountiful here and it’s a little hidden gem that I was so thankfully to stumble upon.
Cheers to finding nature gems in the heart of hustling and bustling cities.