Visit 3 of Tokyo’s Most Famous Parks with this 1-Day Walking Course

Tokyo is famous for its vast network of expansive public parks and green spaces. If you are visiting the city and staying in or near Shinjuku or Shibuya, three of Tokyo’s best and most famous green spaces are all conveniently within walking distance of each other. A day of park hopping is a refreshing way to spend your time—burning calories and exploring history and nature. Read on to find out how to wind your way through three massive parks (and more) within one day.

2018-12-17   Travel Tips, Visit: Parks & Nature, Tokyo,

A brief overview

One of the many meandering paths near the Meiji Jingu Shrine.

How much time you spend in each park is entirely up to you. Including breaks and diversions, expect to spend a full eight-hour day exploring some of Tokyo’s most beautiful locations.

Yoyogi Park opens as early as 5 a.m., so our journey will start there (I’ll leave your starting time up to you). After that, we’ll proceed to Shinjuku Gyoen. Our final stop will be the East Gardens of the Imperial Palace. Each park has numerous entrances and exits, so pay close attention to the specific ones mentioned to save time and avoid backtracking.

Yoyogi Park and the Meiji Jingu Shrine

Home to countless festivals, cherry blossom parties, and a plethora of recreational activities, Yoyogi Park is the perfect place to experience how Tokyo locals enjoy the great outdoors. Take a stroll through the park and you’ll see birdwatchers, cyclists, and pet-owners with their dogs frolicking in the dog run.

There’s even a pony park if you’d like to take a peek into the Tokyo equestrian scene. Yoyogi Park is vast and the landscaping is varied, so give yourself plenty of time to explore it to the fullest.

Consider starting your journey by entering the park on the west side, near the National Olympic Memorial Youth Center. Make your way through the park and exit on the opposite side near the historic Yoyogi National Stadium.

Just because the Meiji Jingu Homotsuden (Treasure Museum) is temporarily closed for renovations doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy Shibafu Park. The skyscraper in the background is the famous Park Hyatt Tokyo.

This will guide you right to the entrance of the Meiji Jingu Shrine—easily one of the most serene and historic locations in Tokyo. After visiting the grand shrine and exploring its surroundings, be sure to exit the area via the Kitasando Entrance and head east on the large street that parallels the elevated expressway.

The view upon leaving the Meiji Jingu Shrine. Shinjuku Gyoen lies on the other side of the NTT Docomo Yoyogi Building pictured here.
After leaving the Meiji Jingu Shrine, Just follow the elevated expressway to reach Sendagaya Station and Shinjuku Gyoen.

Shinjuku Gyoen

After following the expressway for about 10 minutes, you’ll see Sendagaya Station on your left. Head north to the other side of the station to reach the Shinjuku Gyoen Sendagaya Entrance Gate. Unlike the other parks in this article, there is a 200-yen entry fee. That being said, you’ll find Shinjuku Gyoen to be well worth the price of admission.

Regardless of the season, you’ll be amazed by the beauty and tranquility to be found here. Need a morning snack? Just drop in one of the two teahouses found within.

The East Gardens of the Imperial Palace

Upon leaving Shinjuku Gyoen via the Okido Gate, continue your journey east along Shinjuku-dori (Street), one of Tokyo’s main thoroughfares. This is the perfect time for a late lunch and an opportunity to take a quick detour through Arakicho for some down-home dining with the locals.

With a full stomach, you should have plenty of energy to continue down Shinjuku-dori until the skyscraper-lined street ends at the moat of the Imperial Palace, the final destination on this journey. Start working your way around the palace clockwise until you spot the unmistakable Kita-hanebashi-mon Gate, where you’ll be able to enter the expansive East Gardens.

Although admission is free, you’ll still need to check in and receive a pass at the security checkpoint. Although not a park in the traditional sense of the word, there are plenty of places to relax and learn about Japanese history in the East Gardens of the Imperial Palace.

Call it a day

By the time you finish exploring the East Gardens of the Imperial Palace, the sun should be setting and a well-deserved dinner is in order. Depending on your energy level, you could return to Arakicho for a night on the town, or perhaps take a leisurely stroll back to your hotel, picking up whatever meal catches your eye on the way.

 Whatever you decide, rest easy knowing that you made the most of your day with a unique walking course filled with beautiful sights and historical significance.

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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.


Address 1 Chome-6 Tomigaya
Tōkyō-to 151-0063
Hours 5:30 - 00:40
Price Fares depends en the distance
Close None
Access Chiyoda Line
Phone None
Language Japanese