Summer is a living nightmare for most in Japan with temperatures only getting higher in recent years. As a professional gardener living and working in Tokyo for the past seven years, I have no choice but to leave our lovely air-conditioned office and head to whichever garden we are working on. However, the truth is I don’t like to be cooped up indoors for too long and perhaps you don’t either?
If I had my way, I would spend all of the summer months lying in the shade, running my hands across a mossy stone, enjoying the sound of trickling water, and the cicadas singing in the trees. It might be difficult to escape the heat but if you crave outdoors, here are my top picks for gardens in or near Tokyo which help make summer bearable.
These gardens can be viewed from indoors, have a lot of shade, or running water to keep you cool, at least in mind.
Gardens to enjoy from inside
Asakura Sculpture Museum
My secret garden spot in the famous Yanaka Ginza in Nippori. A unique water garden to be enjoyed in silence without any digital devices allowed inside the building.
For a long time the number three among the Japanese gardens and a true gem within Tokyo. It became quite popular lately but has still enough space to sit down at one of the many low tables and enjoy a cup of Matcha green tea.
Takao Komagino Garden
This garden near famous Takao mountain is often overseen although it hosts a nice dry landscape garden which can be enjoyed from inside the traditional Japanese house.
In Hanno City in Saitama prefecture, easily accessible from Ikebukuro station, lies this temple with manifold gardens surrounding it. The masterpiece is a jouge-nidan-shiki garden, a garden built over a great difference in height.
Shady gardens with running water
My personal favorite in Tokyo! This garden is so completely different from any other garden in the city with the teahouse sitting on top of a steep rift line and the pond below. However, here I recommend bringing some mosquito repellents.
Suikeien in Shibamata Taishakuten Temple
On the way to the famous Yamamoto-tei lies this temple with an impressive pine tree in front and huge wood carvings around the central building. Still, the garden is not too crowded and there is a place to enjoy some free water and tea and a portico running around the garden with a pond, stream, and well.
Hakone Art Museum
Around two hours from Shinjuku situated in the heart of Hakone hides this museum a wonderful garden. The lower garden is an airy moss garden with teahouse where Matcha can be enjoyed during hot or rainy days and the upper garden is an open space with huge rocks and merrily rippling mountain stream.
Garden Tours in Tokyo and Japan
If you would like to book a garden tour in Tokyo or Japan conducted by a garden professional, please visit Tokyo Garden Tours. (A service provided by Real Japanese Gardens.)