Even though Tokyo is the world’s largest city, it is famous for immense green spaces and lush parks and gardens. Shinjuku Park, Ueno Park, and Yoyogi Park may be some of the most famous for viewing cherry blossoms, but my favorite spot in the city to see the cherry blossoms in Tokyo is a mere stone’s throw away from Tokyo Dome.
Koishikawa Korakuen Gardens (小石川後楽園) may be relatively small in size, but it packs a major punch both in two key aspects of the cherry blossoms: different types of landscapes for shooting and floral diversity. Inside these gardens not just cherry blossoms await. A wide array of other flowering bushes and plants line the pathways and trails to create a scene unlike any other green space in Tokyo.
After passing through the gates (there is a nominal entrance fee, so come prepared), one is quickly greeted by a weeping cherry in full bloom and a park sign. Unlike other parks and gardens in Tokyo last weekend, Koishikawa Gardens already had many trees in full bloom.
Tokyo Dome is in the background of this shot so you can see how close these two places really are.
Famous for its ponds, I started off walking around one of the park’s smaller ponds and took some photos of trees quickly reaching full bloom.
Juxtaposed against Tokyo’s modern skyline, traditional Japanese garden design and old footbridges create a nice contrast between perceived images of old and new Japan.
As you can see below, people were not the only ones out taking in the cherry blossoms: a pair of turtles were also checking out the scenery.
A few more paces and a few more ponds later, I encountered a different species of tree which boasted pink blossoms. Rock gardens and formations in the middle of this lake provided a nice change of scenery.
Once I was finished walking around this pond, I turned to the right and walked directly under a path which was blanked in stunning white blossoms, all in full bloom. Their rich smell provided a nice accent to the incessant sound of camera shutters clicking and children playing with their siblings.
On the other side of this walkway, more images of a stereotypical Japan waited.
On my left side was a perfectly straight walkway through another large pond.
On the right side was a traditional orange footbridge behind a stone walkway which crossed through the same body of water. I feel as if both of these images are symbolic of Japan.
After walking a bit further to the right and climbing some steep, rocky, stairs, Koishikawa Gardens’ most beautiful image became visible. Scrunched between a teeming footpath, a stagnant pond, and leaves in the foreground, a vibrantly blooming tree filled a magnificent scene. This was the image everyone at the park hoped to capture. In the midday sunlight, everything seemed perfect.
Deeper into the garden, more kinds of trees were in full bloom, this time in pink.
The final park of my stroll through Koishikawa Korakuen Gardens is what makes this garden my favorite place in all of Tokyo for blossom viewing: it is an ecologically diverse environment! While the cherry blossoms may be the most famous flowering plant in all of Japan, some marvelous other plants were in full bloom near the park’s exit.
Red and white bushes lined one walkway in the park.
Another pathway even had a yellow flowering bush! Even though these flowers were not quite ready to bloom their color added even more to a beautiful scene inside the park.
The final plant waiting at the garden’s exit was one of the most interesting plants of the day. Even though it boasted no flowers, this bush had some marvelous red leaves which were changing color for the season as well.
While there are many more famous and more well known spots inside of Tokyo to see cherry blossoms and other flowering plants, Koishikawa Korakuen Gardens is my favorite. The diverse scenery and the diverse ecology make it a must-visit location whether you are checking out the flowers next year or the plants at any time of year. I will be sure to come back here during the fall to see how the park looks during the peak fall colors period.