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Given all of Tokyo's skyscrapers and salarymen, it's easy to assume that the city is a barren urban wasteland without a breath of fresh air to punctuate its high-tech and industrialized neighborhoods. But between all those glittering shopping centers and glass business buildings are pockets of beautiful parks, serene walking paths, and tranquil temple and shrine gardens — all helping you to slow down and take a breather. This list proves just how easy it is step into another much greener world, even in the middle of this bustling capital city!

Good for
  • Nature Lover
  • Peace and Quiet Seeker
  • Thrifty Traveller
  • Like a Local

12 Places

9 City Tips

Print
Map

12 Places

Yoyogi Park

Parks

Ueno Park

Parks

Tokyo Cruise (Sumida River)

Boat Tours

Imperial Palace Running Course

Jogging Paths & Tracks, Scenic Walking Areas

Rikugien Garden

Gardens, Parks

Koishikawa Korakuen Garden

Gardens

Hama Rikyu Gardens

Gardens, Parks

Mizumoto Park

Parks

Toneri Park

Parks

Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden

Lookouts, Gardens

Kamakura Hiking Trails

Hiking Trails

Hakone Kowakien Yunessun

Water Parks, Spas, Onsen Resorts

jessicawhylee's City Tips

  • The Japanese don't believe in tipping and will chase after you if you try to leave anything on the table! "What you see is what you pay" is a pretty solid mantra here.
  • Some restaurants charge a table surcharge via a drink purchase minimum or a pre-picked appetizer dish (otōshi); otherwise tax is usually included on menu items.
  • Cash is your best friend, even in metropolitan Tokyo, so be sure to carry around a few bills and handful of coins with you everywhere! Some places won't take credit cards at all.
  • Because the city is so dense, it isn't difficult to walk from one train station to the next. Take an urban hike!
  • Riding a Tokyo train is a "can't-miss" experience. Avoid overpriced day passes by purchasing a Suica prepaid IC card to get around on the JR East.
  • Prepaid IC cards like Suica and Pasmo (for the metro) can be used to buy things at a handful of stores, most konbini (convenience stores), and every vending machine in town.
  • You'll be hard pressed to find a trash can on the streets in Tokyo, as people are expected to eat seated indoors and to otherwise carry their refuse home. Keep the streets clean.
  • Hanami (flower-viewing) may be relaxing, but finding a good seat can be stressful. Arrive early to find and claim your picnic spot!
  • Tokyo is a pleasantly bikeable city, with myriad paths and even the occasional bike parking structure — so rent some wheels for a day and enjoy breezing through the city.
  • Yoyogi Park
    Parks
    See more photos
    jessicawhylee Says:

    Yoyogi Park, one of the largest and most popular parks in a city notorious for being tight-fisted with square footage, provides a relaxing change of scenery from Harajuku's diametrically opposed grungy backstreets and classy boulevards. Here, you're likely to see plenty of local clubs rehearsing for plays or having jam sessions out in the open air.

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Must See
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • The Tokyo Bay area may be a local favorite for bikers, but Yoyogi Park offers a more secluded ride. Rent a tandem bicycle with your friend and explore the well-marked bike paths!
    • Sundays are particularly busy, but busy doesn't necessarily mean bad! If you're lucky, you might even be able to catch the Japanese rock concert, that has likely drawn the crowd.
    • Head to the eastern side to catch rockabilly gangs greased up in pompadours and poodle skirts, or to watch some hip-hop dancers tear up the pavement!
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #6 of 274 things to do in Shibuya
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Breathe in the freshness 19/06/2019
    • Best Park Ever 18/06/2019
    • Yoyogi Park
    Address:
    2-1 Yoyogi Kamizonocho
    Shibuya 151-0052
    Tokyo Prefecture
    Phone:
    +81 3-3469-6081
    Other:
  • Ueno Park
    Parks
    See more photos
    jessicawhylee Says:

    At one point or another, museum-goers will inevitably find themselves wandering into Ueno Park, as it houses four of Tokyo's best museums within its grounds. But even if you're not into museums, you can always feast your eyes on Japan's first zoological garden, Ueno Zoo. Bring a bentō lunchbox and have a picnic by Shinobazu Pond, rent a bike or wander by foot along the many paths, or take your sweetheart onto the water for a soothing row in the middle of one of the biggest metropolitan cities in the world.

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Must See
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • If you're meeting a friend around the park, do like the locals and meet near the south entrance, at the statue of alleged "last samurai," Saigo Takamori, walking his dog.
    • Ueno Park is one of the most lively Tokyo spots for hanami (flower-viewing), so you'll need to be particularly aggressive to get a spot here. Perhaps try your luck elsewhere?
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #4 of 550 things to do in Taito
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Wide open space for the harried soul 21/06/2019
    • A big park 20/06/2019
    • Ueno Park
    Address:
    5_20 Uenokoen
    Taito 110-0007
    Tokyo Prefecture
    Phone:
    +81 3-3828-5644
    Other:
  • Tokyo Cruise (Sumida River)
    Boat Tours
    See more photos
    jessicawhylee Says:

    When you need to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city and parks aren't cutting it, try a river bus or the more traditional-style yakatabune (a roofed boat furnished with tatami mats and low dining tables) for a cruise down Sumida River. The more popular river routes run between Asakusa and Odaiba — you'll sail from traditional to modern architecture, starting with austere Sensō-ji and the intricate statues guarding Kaminarimon, and then passing under Rainbow Bridge and alongside the space colony-esque Fuji TV building. Somewhere in between is Asahi Beer Hall and its infamous golden Asahi Flame sculpture, which you'll want to photograph even if simply for the fact that it is called 'the golden turd' by locals!

    Good for
    • Like a Local
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • In summer, you can watch fireworks from yakatabune as you nibble on sashimi. Only take advantage of the all-you-can-drink deal if you're confident in your bladder retention!
    • There are several different tour boat companies, all of which offer different amenities, facilities, and sights; so do some window shopping to figure out which works best for you!
    Plan to stay:
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #3 of 11 Boat Tours & Water Sports in Minato
    • Half day activity for something different 18/06/2019
    • Cruise Delights 10/06/2019
    • Tokyo Cruise (Sumida River)
    Address:
    (Asakusa, Hamarikyu, Hinodesanbashi, Toyosu, Odaiba)
    Minato
    Tokyo Prefecture
    Phone:
    +81 120-977-311
    Other:
  • Imperial Palace Running Course
    Jogging Paths & Tracks, Scenic Walking Areas
    See more photos
    jessicawhylee Says:

    Winding around the perimeter of the Imperial Palace, protected from traffic danger, the five-kilometer Imperial Palace Running Course is a great place to get in a workout, offering fresh air and views of skyscrapers rising around you.

    Good for
    • Like a Local
    • History Buff
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • There are water fountains, restrooms, showers, and luggage storage facilities along the path, and markers are inlaid in the pavement to let you know how far you've run.
    • Be forewarned that pedestrians and cyclists are as welcome here as are joggers, so you may run into a bit of foot traffic around a few bends!
    • Most people typically follow the path in a counter-clockwise direction, so go with the flow to prevent some awkward sidestepping around oncoming joggers!
    • This area is safe at nearly all hours of the day and at night; police boxes are set up at intervals along the path to ensure joggers are looked after.
    • When you're done with your run, check out the East Gardens within the inner walls of the palace. The old Edo Castle ruins are a sight to behold!
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #50 of 429 things to do in Chiyoda
    • walking on clena streets 01/06/2019
    • Beautiful course 23/03/2019
    • Imperial Palace Running Course
    Other:
  • Rikugien Garden
    Gardens, Parks
    See more photos
    jessicawhylee Says:

    Rikugien is one of the most beautiful gardens to be found in Tokyo, emanating a tranquility befitting the six different elements of Japanese poetry after which it is named ('Rikugien' translates to 'six poems garden'). Each area is based off a scene described in ancient Japanese and Chinese literary texts, and it's easy to get carried off into that poignant, almost melancholy aesthetic as you wander through the weeping cherry trees and along the edge of the wooded pond. There's a small fee to enter this garden, but it's well worth the price for a peaceful retreat from the busy metropolis.

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • History Buff
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • Rikugien is beautiful year-round but is best known for its autumnal maple leaves. Have tea at the Tsutsuji no Chaya teahouse in late November/early December for the best views!
    • The more convenient Someimon entrance is only open at select times during peak seasons, so you'll probably have to walk all the way to the main gate for access the park.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #3 of 292 things to do in Bunkyo
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Pretty and peaceful 15/06/2019
    • Loved this little garden 11/06/2019
    • Rikugien Garden
    Address:
    6-16-3 Honkomagome
    Bunkyo 113-0021
    Tokyo Prefecture
    Phone:
    +81 3-3941-2222
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    09:00 - 17:00
    Other:
  • Koishikawa Korakuen Garden
    Gardens
    See more photos
    jessicawhylee Says:

    Another beautiful traditional Japanese garden, Koishikawa Kōrakuen reproduces in miniature famous landscapes described in iconic literature of ages past. You'll stroll through the flowering plum and cherry trees during the spring, or past dozens of fiery maple trees set ablaze during autumn. You won't be disappointed to part with the few yen's worth of entrance fee, even during the off season; this place is as lovely as gardens come.

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Like a Local
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • Renovations may be scheduled, so be warned that although the garden remains open to visitors, it might not be at its most tranquil when you visit.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #2 of 292 things to do in Bunkyo
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • I went late on a cloudy day, go when its sunny! 11/06/2019
    • Holiday 05/06/2019
    • Koishikawa Korakuen Garden
    Address:
    1-6-6 Koraku
    Bunkyo 112-0004
    Tokyo Prefecture
    Phone:
    +81 3-3811-3015
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    09:00 - 17:00
    Other:
  • Hama Rikyu Gardens
    Gardens, Parks
    See more photos
    jessicawhylee Says:

    Hamarikyū is not a traditional Japanese garden in the usual 'poetic sense' (with recreated models of literary fame). Rather, the ponds here consist of seawater and are directly linked to the whims of Tokyo Bay's tides. After you've admired the peonies, plum trees, and cosmos flowers, stop into Nakashima teahouse — which is located on an island in the middle of a pond — to enjoy tea and Japanese confectionaries.

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Must See
    • Like a Local
    • Beach Goer
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • One of the routes of the water bus tours makes a pit stop here at the Hamarikyū Gardens, so if that's something you want to do, schedule your trip ahead of time!
    • The New Year brings on many different festivities and performances, such as falconry and aikidō demonstrations.
    • There is a negligible fee to enter, but the gardens are well worth it.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #1 of 549 things to do in Chuo
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Wet day visit 22/06/2019
    • Only if you’re in the Area 19/06/2019
    • Hama Rikyu Gardens
    Address:
    1-1 Hamarikyu Teien
    Chuo 104-0046
    Tokyo Prefecture
    Phone:
    +81 3-3541-0200
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    09:00 - 16:30
    Other:
  • Mizumoto Park
    Parks
    See more photos
    jessicawhylee Says:

    If carefully manicured parks and gardens are too prim and proper for your outdoorsy nature, head a little farther out of town for a charcoal barbecue at Mizumoto Park. Built along the Koaidame flood control basin, Mizumoto Park offers up a few different multi-use fields, a dog run, and an outdoor stage. You can even go fishing in the 'wilder' sections of this park, and the multitudes of birdwatching stations are definitely worth checking out. Don't be afraid to visit year-round: In June the iris garden is in all its glory, but the metasequoias laden with winter snow are an equally lovely sight.

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • Dogs must always be kept on a leash here, and skateboards and rollerblades are prohibited. Bikes, however, are welcome!
    • Restroom facilities are scattered throughout the premises.
    Plan to stay:
    More than 3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #1 of 112 things to do in Katsushika
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Must visit if you are living in Katsushika-Ku 26/05/2019
    • A beautiful piece of Tokyo 11/12/2018
    • Mizumoto Park
    Address:
    3-2 Mizumotokoen
    Katsushika 125-0034
    Tokyo Prefecture
    Phone:
    +81 3-3607-8321
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    00:00 - 23:59
    Other:
  • Toneri Park
    Parks
    See more photos
    jessicawhylee Says:

    Toneri Park is a great location for a barbecue, camping, and birdwatching, and it's also very friendly to avid sportspeople, offering up athletic facilities like tennis courts, a baseball field, a track field, and a children's soccer ground. Bring the entire family, and splash about in the globe-shaped pond during the sticky summer heat!

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • Pile on that SPF! Toneri is still a young park with more wide open spaces than shady trees, so you'll be getting plenty of sun while you're out here.
    • There's a parking lot here, so if you'd rather not brave the trains, you can drive instead.
    • Be sure to make a reservation ahead of time for the BBQs and rent some equipment while you're at it. Check out the website for more details!
    Plan to stay:
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #2 of 88 things to do in Adachi
    • Nice walk 04/05/2019
    • GREAT OUTDOOR PARK 22/03/2019
    • Toneri Park
    Address:
    1-1 Tonerikoen,
    Adachi 121-0837
    Tokyo Prefecture
    Phone:
    +81 3-3857-2308
    Other:
  • Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden
    Lookouts, Gardens
    See more photos
    jessicawhylee Says:

    One of Tokyo's largest and most popular parks, Shinjuku Gyoen blends traditional Japanese gardens with both formal French and English landscape gardens. Among the more than 20,000 trees here, about 1,500 are different species of cherry blossoms that burst into bloom during the spring, making Shinjuku Gyoen one of the best places to camp out at during the hanami (flower-viewing) seasons. And don't forget to check out the greenhouses — the tropical paradises will make you forget that you're in the middle of Tokyo!

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • This garden is closed on most Mondays.
    • If you're around during the first two weeks of November, visit the Japanese garden for the brilliant chrysanthemum exhibit.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #1 of 410 things to do in Shinjuku
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Beautiful park and garden, an absolute must see 23/06/2019
    • All seasons park 23/06/2019
    • Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden
    Address:
    11 Naitocho
    Shinjuku 160-0014
    Tokyo Prefecture
    Phone:
    +81 3-3350-0151
    Price range:
    US$500 - US$500
    Hours:
    Tue - Sun
    09:00 - 17:30
    Other:
  • Kamakura Hiking Trails
    Hiking Trails
    See more photos
    jessicawhylee Says:

    If your pocketbook or schedule prevents you from making it all the way out to Nara or Kyōto, never fear! Kamakura, just an hour's train ride from Tokyo, offers up a Daibutsu (Great Buddha) statue of its own, and offers as much peaceful appeal as can be found more readily among the rich spiritual culture on the western coast of Honshū. At Kamakura, you have an array of options: You can visit a number historic temples and shrines, explore a variety of hiking trails, or take a leisurely stroll along the Yuiga-hama beach for a beautiful view of Japan's iconic Mount Fuji (if you're lucky).

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Beach Goer
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Like a Local
    • History Buff
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • Take care when you're hiking Kamakura's trails, as they're unpaved and can become quite narrow and/or steep. Travel with a buddy when it's sunny!
    • You can climb inside the Daibutsu statue for just a few yen coins. Hey, when else could you say you've been inside the Buddha's head?
    • If you choose to visit the touristy Enoshima island, just off the coast of Kamakura, consider picking up an Enopass for great discounts on the island's many attractions!
    Plan to stay:
    More than 3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #5 of 200 things to do in Kamakura
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • If you have the time, it’s worth a stop 02/06/2019
    • Tough 26/05/2019
    • Kamakura Hiking Trails
    Phone:
    +81 467-24-8409
  • Hakone Kowakien Yunessun
    Water Parks, Spas, Onsen Resorts
    See more photos
    jessicawhylee Says:

    This popular onsen (hot springs) resort is a little over an hour away from the urban center, but it's well worth the trek. The natural mineral waters bubble forth here from the volcanically active national park surrounding Lake Ashi. Treat yourself to a day trip, and spend the entire afternoon soaking your travel-weary bones before you head off to your next destination!

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Must See
    • Luxury Traveller
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • Some consider ryokan (traditional Japanese inns) overpriced tourist attractions, but it might be worth experiencing at least one.
    • Hakone is a popular day trip spot, and many will go just for the afternoon. But be forewarned! This may be the part of your trip that you miss the most, so make your visit count!
    • If you choose to stick around for more than a day, be sure to explore the botanical gardens, Hakone Shrine, and Owakudani's volcanic geysers.
    Plan to stay:
    More than 3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #1 of 2 Water & Amusement Parks in Hakone-machi
    • Gimmicky and poorly kept 24/06/2019
    • Hot spring option for families 13/04/2019
    • Hakone Kowakien Yunessun
    Address:
    1297 Ninotaira
    Hakone-machi, Ashigarashimo-gun 250-0407
    Kanagawa Prefecture
    Phone:
    +81 460-82-4126
    Price range:
    US$2,900 - US$2,900
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    09:00 - 20:00
    Other:
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