井の頭恩賜公園1/6
Photo: Kisa Toyoshima
Ueno Park2/6
Photo: Kisa Toyoshima Ueno Park
Yoyogi Park3/6
Photo: 公益財団法人東京都公園協会Yoyogi Park
Imperial Palace East Garden4/6
Photo: Keisuke Tanigawa
Imperial Palace East Garden5/6
Photo: Keisuke Tanigawa Imperial Palace East Garden
Hibiya Park6/6
Photo: Keisuke Tanigawa Hibiya Park

The best parks in Tokyo

Spend a leisurely afternoon at these Tokyo parks – don’t forget the sunscreen and the beer

By Kasey Furutani
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As the weather starts to warm up, we’re ready to spend some sunny days in the great outdoors to soak up as much Vitamin D as possible. Tokyo might look like a concrete jungle, but the big city is also home to plenty of greenery, both hidden neighbourhood gems and large central parks. Pack a bento picnic, arrive early to avoid the midday heat, and laze the day away in one of Tokyo’s best parks. 

RECOMMENDED: Read our guide on how to go out safely in Tokyo

Let's get recreational

Yoyogi Park
Yoyogi Park
Photo: Keisuke Tanigawa

Yoyogi Park

Attractions Parks and gardens Harajuku

Tokyo’s answer to the New York Central Park, Yoyogi Park is a sprawling greenspace filled with forests and fountains, group exercisers and day drinkers. Just a few minutes away from Harajuku Station, the park is perfect for an afternoon picnic or jog in the city centre, and is so large it never feels crowded, although you might have trouble finding a bench on a sunny Saturday afternoon. Yoyogi Park is also home to monthly events showcasing Japanese and international food and culture – but that’s currently on hold due to the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic. 

Inokashira Park
Inokashira Park
Photo: Kisa Toyoshima

Inokashira Park

Attractions Parks and gardens Kichijoji

Inokashira Park stretches from the heart of Kichijoji towards Mitaka – you can even walk to the Ghibli Museum from the park entrance. Most popular for spring cherry blossoms and autumn momiji (maple leaves), the park also boasts a large lake, often filled with couples riding in swan-shaped boats. Be careful though: legend has it the goddess Benzaiten will curse boating couples with a breakup, so make sure to pay your respects and apologies at the park’s Benzaiten Shrine. Children will love the Inokashira Zoo next to the lake, which features small animals like guinea pigs and squirrels.

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Showa Kinen Park

Attractions Parks and gardens Tachikawa

Located in western Tokyo’s Tachikawa ward, Showa Kinen Park is 160 hectares of greenery, seasonal flowers (tulips and cherry blossoms in particular) and multiple children’s play areas. There’s plenty to do in the large park, but it’s best to rent a bicycle and spend the day cycling throughout the whole area. Don’t miss the Japanese garden or the lake, which offers pedal boats and canoes. Showa Kinen has something to offer in all four seasons: winter illuminations, late-blooming spring cherry blossoms, a summer water park and gorgeous autumn foliage. 

Ueno Park
Ueno Park
Photo: Kisa Toyoshima

Ueno Park

Things to do Ueno

Established back in 1873, Ueno Park is one of Tokyo’s oldest public parks. Ueno Park doesn’t offer much in terms of greenery or nature or grass lawns to lay your picnic mats, except for the spring cherry blossoms that draw hordes of hanami viewers onto the hard pavements. Instead, the park is filled with cultural attractions. You’ll find four museums on site: the Tokyo National Museum, the National Museum of Nature and Science, Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum and National Museum for Western Art. Plus, there’s the Ueno Zoo, famous for its adorable pandas.

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Hibiya Park
Hibiya Park
Photo: Keisuke Tanigawa

Hibiya Park

Attractions Parks and gardens Hibiya

Right around the corner from ritzy Ginza is Hibiya Park, Japan’s first western-style park, built in 1903. There are plenty of benches to relax on while gazing at the fountains and flower gardens. Located near the Imperial Palace, Hibiya Park has a deep feudal history: you’ll find Hibiya Mitsuke, which is a preserved part of the front gate of Edo Castle, and Shinji Pond, which is part of the old moat. The park is also home to a 400-500-year-old ginkgo tree which was saved from destruction by Dr Seiroku Honda, the park’s designer. 

Sumida Park
Sumida Park
Photo: Kisa Toyoshima

Sumida Park

Attractions Parks and gardens Asakusa

Stretched along the banks of the Sumida River, Sumida Park is most famous for its summer fireworks display, when thousands of people line up to watch the show. The park is beautiful during the day as well – 1,000 cherry blossom trees and breezy river weather make it a perfect place for a picnic post-sightseeing in Asakusa. It also makes for a nice stroll from Tokyo Skytree to Sensoji Temple. Tip: get there during sunset and you’ll see a glorious golden sky over the river as Tokyo Skytree begins to sparkle. 

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Imperial Palace East Garden
Imperial Palace East Garden
Photo: Keisuke Tanigawa

The East Garden of the Imperial Palace

Things to do Takebashi

The East Garden of the Imperial Palace is open to the public and completely free. Formerly the site of Edo Castle, the East Garden surrounds the Emperor and Imperial Family’s living quarters. You'd want to stroll through the Ninomaru Garden, a traditional Japanese garden dating back to the Edo period, when it's exceptionally beautiful in autumn, as the momiji (maple leaves) turns from bright green to red.

North of the garden is Kitanomaru Park, where you can rent a rowboat (from March to December) and float along the Chidorigafuchi Moat, where cherry blossoms bloom in abundance come spring. Kitanomaru also has a large lawn for picnicking and is home to the Nippon Budokan, National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo and the Science Museum

Rinshi-no-mori Park

Attractions Parks and gardens Musashi-Koyama

Rinshi no Mori is more like an off-the-beaten-path forest than a neighbourhood park. Whatever you call it, this 120,000sqm park in Meguro was originally the Meguro Experimental Nursery in 1900 (later the Forestry Research Station) before becoming a public park in the 1980s. Grab some shade beneath the plentiful trees, including towering zelkovas, poplars and camphors, as well as some unusual and foreign species. There are two playgrounds to keep the young ‘uns entertained and the jogging paths are nicely lined with trees to keep you cool. This is a park with bountiful nature – bug spray is a must unless you want to be eaten alive.

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Kasai Rinkai Park
Kasai Rinkai Park
Photo: Kisa Toyoshima

Kasai Rinkai Park

Attractions Parks and gardens Kasai

With a Ferris wheel, aquarium and bird sanctuary, Kasai Rinkai Park is filled with activities for the whole family. Near Tokyo Bay, the park aims to preserve the area’s natural habitat. Be sure to stop by the Crystal View Observatory, a large glass building where you can gaze out across the park and Tokyo Bay from higher ground. In between sightseeing, take a breather on the sprawling lawn, perhaps with a bento lunch, and take in the fresh air. Entrance to the park itself is free, but you’ll have to pay admission to the Tokyo Sealife Park and Ferris wheel.

Tokyo's great outdoors

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