Experience the Teahouses of Shinjuku Gyoen

Although Shinjuku Gyoen is most revered for its beautiful gardens and scenic vistas, exploring the forest paths of this massive, tranquil greenspace will reveal several attractions hidden within. Among them you’ll find two teahouses, Rakuutei and Shoutentei, near the center of the park. Each one serves a different purpose: Rakuutei offers a more traditional experience while Shoutentei is casual and contemporary.

2018-10-29   Travel Tips, Visit: Parks & Nature, Tokyo,


Rakuutei: a convenient yet traditional experience

Rakuutei

If you are looking for a traditional Japanese tea-drinking experience but don’t have time or the budget for a formal one, Rakuutei is an excellent option. To find Rakuutei within the seemingly endless greenery of Shinjuku Gyoen, just follow the numerous wayfinding signs while enjoying the sights and sounds of the park along the way.

Some of the beautiful scenery near Rakuutei.

Once you arrive at the teahouse, don’t be intimidated by the not-so-traditional vending machine that stands between you and a fresh bowl of delicious green tea. Entering Rakuutei is actually deceptively simple. Insert 700 yen into the machine and the button for the only option available, a tea and desert set, will light up. Press the button, take your ticket, open the sliding wooden doors, and head right in.

You’ll immediately be greeted by a kimono-clad server who will guide you to your seat. Although the tea and sweets are traditional, the experience is meant to be very tourist-friendly. So, you don’t have to worry about removing your shoes or participating in organized, formal procedures. That being said, it’s a good idea to be quiet, reverent, and slowly savor the experience.

Although there is no English guidance for what to do, the process is pretty simple. First, you’ll receive a small Japanese dessert to prepare your palate for the relative bitterness of the tea. A few minutes later, you’ll receive your bowl of tea. After that, simply enjoy the experience for as long as you like. You’ll find the fresh green tea to be a perfect match with the light, mildly sweet seasonal dessert.

Although the experience isn’t formal, taking a pause in your day to enjoy some freshly prepared green tea is the perfect way to get a quick taste of Japanese culinary culture.

Shoutentei: for those on the go

If you need a quick pick-me-up after exploring the vast reaches of Shinjuku Gyoen, then Shoutentei is the perfect place for a break. Shoutentei offers a more affordable, modern take on tea with the kind of drinks that you may find at a local coffee shop (e.g. hot/cold green tea lattes).

A more contemporary way to enjoy green tea.

Something for everyone

The next time you find yourself exploring Shinjuku Gyoen, a place that demands multiple visits, don’t overlook its teahouses. Whether you are looking for a slice of traditional Japan or a quick and casual recharge, you’ll find what you need at Rakuutei and Shoutentei.

For smartphone users, please click the link below to go to the Tadaima Japan website which includes additional location details:

Experience the Tea Houses of Shinjuku Gyoen

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AUTHOR

Anthony

Anthony

Writer / Translator

Originally from Riverside, California, I've been living, working, and writing in Japan since 2009. Japan has become my second home, and I'm especially fond of Shinjuku, Tokyo. That being said, I also love getting out into the countryside and exploring the entire country. Through Tadaima Japan, I hope to share the wonders of Japan with a wider, international audience. Check out my articles if you enjoy exploring on foot, convenient cafes, and affordable dining.

Information

Address 11 Naitomachi,
Shinjuku,
Tokyo 160-0014
Hours 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Price 200 yen (park entrance fee); 700 yen (green tea set)
Close Mondays (if Monday is a public holiday,
the park is closed on the following day instead)
December 29 – January 3
Access Five-minute walk from
Shinjuku-gyoenmae Station (Exit 1)
via the Tokyo Metro
Marunouchi Line
Phone +81-(0)3-3350-0151
Language Japanese
English
Website https://www.env.go.jp/garden/shinjukugyoen/english/index.html