- A brief overview
- Yoyogi Park and the Meiji Jingu Shrine
- Shinjuku Gyoen
- The East Gardens of the Imperial Palace
- Call it a day
A brief overview
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.
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.
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.