Hamarikyū Teien  (浜離宮恩賜庭園)

The Hamarikyū garden is a large strolling garden directly next to Tokyo bay. It was built by the shogun Tokugawa in the Edo period (1603-1868). The garden’s ponds are connected to the Tokyo bay so the water level of the ponds changed with the tide. Large parts of the garden were reed fields, and the southern garden was used by the Shogun’s family for falconry and duck hunting.

With the Meiji Restauration in 1868, the Tokugawa shogunate fell and the imperial family built a detached villa on the grounds of the garden. This is also where the garden’s name comes from – Hama (浜) means “beach”, “seashore”; and rikyū (離宮) means “detached palace”. Teien (庭園) is a word for “garden” or “park”.

The garden has meandering ponds interconnected by little streams. There is a tea house on the middle island (中島 – Nakashima) of the southern pond, a plum grove (visit in late February to March), a 300-year-old pine tree and a field of wildflowers (cosmea and rape flowers). It is a nice garden to take a long walk. Because the garden is large, you rarely meet other visitors.

A free audio guide in English is available at the ticket gates – it has several guided tours, but it also allows you to roam around freely and just gives you information when you come to an important part of the garden.

  • Introduction
  • History
  • Buildings
  • Bridges
  • Mountains
  • Highlights
  • Flowers
  • Anikas Impressions
  • Around Hamarikyū garden

20 pages full of information about the Hamarikyū garden
38 pictures of the gardens


The eBook is delivered as PDF.

Feel free to pin these pictures to your Pinterest board:


How to get there
To get to Hamarikyu gardens, take the Yamanote line to Shinbashi (新橋駅) or the Oedo line to Shiodome(汐留駅)。Walk eastwards from there.
There is also the possibility to go by boat from Asakusa to the garden. But since the boat is quite low, often you don’t see more than the quay walls. The entrance fee to the garden is included in the fare.

1-1 Hamarikyu Teien, Chuo, Tokyo

03-3541-0200 ‎

300 Yen

Opening hours
9am – 5pm (last entry at 4:30pm)

Closed around New Year between December 29th and January 1st.

Aoi-den and Kasui-en  (葵殿 佳水園)

Both gardens are now on the ground of the Westin Hotel Kyoto. Visitors can enter before sunset for free.
“Aoiden” was built by the garden master Ogawa Jihei (7th generation). It is a stroll garden that utilizes land features and enables the water from the Biwako River to drop into a waterfall basin 15 meters below. “Kasuien” was built by his eldest son Hakuyo.

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How to get there
Take Kyoto city bus number 5 from Kyoto station towards Yagura-soshajo-mae (岩倉操車場前). After 11 stops and around 30 minutes, get off at Jingu-dori (神宮道). After getting off the bus, walk 5 minutes in direction of traffic.

Kyoto-shi, Higashiyama-ku, Keage, Sanjo

Murin-an  (無鄰菴)

Murin-an is a typical strolling garden of the Meiji period (1868-1912). It was built between 1894 and 1896 by Yamagata Aritomo, a Prime Minister of Meiji period Japan. As much as he loved the Japanese garden culture, he also had a deep interest in Western culture. The villa on the grounds of Murin-an has dark rooms, painted walls and a paneled ceiling and is a rare example of western style architecture.

The garden was realized by the Japanese master gardener Ogawa Jihee. The garden uses the eastern hills of Kyoto as a viewpoint, which let it appear as an extension of the mountain scenery. This technique is called shuzan – 主山. It has a small stream that is fed by the waters of Lake Biwa, Japan’s biggest lake. Large parts of the garden are lawn, probably an influence of English landscape gardens. The Japanese style villa has a tea room – why not sit down on the veranda and have a bowl of fresh Matcha green tea while admiring the garden?

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How to get there
Murin-an is in the neighborhood of Nanzen-ji and Heian-jingu shrine in eastern Kyoto. It is situated south of the Kyoto Zoo. Take the city bus number 5, 57, 32 or 100 to Doubutsu-en-mae (動物園前 – Kyoto Zoo). When you get off the bus, walk south and cross the bridge, then go to your left, in eastern direction, following the Niōmon-dori (仁王門通り). Before Niōmon makes a right turn, there is a really small street to your right. Turn into that street and you will find a Murin-an’s small entrance gate to your left.

Opening hours
Apr. – Sep. 9:00 ~ 6:00
Oct. – Mar. 9:00 ~ 5:00

December 29th – December 31st.

410 Yen
Will be raised to 600 Yen from October 1, 2019

JP: 31 南禅寺草川町、左京区 京都市 京都府 606-8437
EN: 31 Kusakawa-cho, Nanzenji, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto 606-8437

Nijō Castle – Ninomaru  (二条城 二の丸庭園)

The Ninomaru gardens of the Nijō castle in Kyoto have been designed by garden master Kobori Enshu. The palace was built for the first Edo shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu in the early Edo period (1603-1868). There are numerous cherry and plum trees, which bloom between March and April.

The garden has a large pond with three islands that symbolize Horai-San, and the crane and turtle mountains of the Taoist mythology.

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How to get there
From Kyoto station, take city bus number 9 to Nijo-jo mae (二条城前) – it should take around 16 minutes.

JP: 〒604-8301 京都市中京区二条通堀川西入二条城町541番地
EN: 541 Nijojocho, Nakagyo Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 604-8301

Opening times
8:45am to 5pm (last entry at 4pm)

Closed between Dec. 26th and January 4st,
and every Tuesday in January, July, August and December.

600 yen

Kyōto Gosho (Kyoto Imperial Palace)  (京都御所)

The Imperial Palace in Kyoto has been the seat of the Emperor from the Heian period (794-1185) until the end of the Edo period (1603-1868). After the Edo period, the Tenno and his court moved to the Old Edo, which then became the official capital of Japan and changed its name to Tokyo – Capital of the East.

The palace and garden are within the old palace enclosure but were built much later, during the Edo period (1855). The style is loosely based on the Heian shinden-zukuri style, with large gravel courtyards and a small pond garden.

Access to the garden is only granted free of charge. Tours are held in Japanese, Chinese, and English. English tours are available at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. You can apply for them by visiting the Visitors Room on the right side of the entrance.

[Updated: 10/2018]

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How to get there
From Kyoto station, take the Karasuma line to Marutamachi station (丸太町, 4 stops, 7 minutes). From there, enter the Kyoto-gyoen and go to the entrance of the Sentō-Gosho in the center of the park.

If you prefer to go by bus, take the city bus 205 and get off at the bus stop Furitsu-idaibyouin-mae (府立医大病院). The bus stop is to the east of the Kyoto-gyoen, enter the park and walk in a westwards direction.

JP: 〒602-0881 京都府京都市,上京区京都御苑
EN: Kyoto Gyoen, Kamigyo-ku, Kyoto-shi 〒602-0881

Opening hours

September & March 9 a.m. – 3:50 p.m. (Last admission) 4:30 p.m. (Closing time)
October – February 9 a.m. – 3:20 p.m. (Last admission) 4 p.m. (Closing time)
April – August 9 a.m. – 4:20 p.m. (Last admission) 5 p.m. (Closing time)
Closed: Mondays (if Monday is a holiday, the palace will close on Tuesday instead.)
December 28 – January 4

Entrance is free.

Katsura Rikyū  (桂離宮)

The Katsura Rikyū or Katsura Imperial Palace (also known under the name Katsura Detached Palace), has been built for Prince Toshihito in the early Edo period. Since the prince was very well read, the gardens feature many references to the Japanese classic “Tale of the Genji”. The architecture and the gardens of the palace are remarkable. There used to be five tea houses in the garden, of which four remain until today. The tea houses and the Old, Middle and New Shoin (drawing room, study room) are exquisite examples of Japanese architecture.

The garden features a large variety of decorative features like stone lanterns, gates, hand washing basins and different styles of laid paths, stepping stone paths and Japanese garden fences.

This eBook features the famous Ishi-doro or stone lanterns of Katsura Rikyu.


Introduction to stone lanterns (石燈籠)
Introduction to the Katsura Imperial Palace (桂離宮)
Stone lanterns along the garden paths:
Ball-shape lantern – Mari-gata Tōrō (毬形灯籠)
Stone lantern – Ishi-dōrō (石燈篭)
Water-firefly lantern – Mizubotaru-dōrō (水蛍燈篭)
Christian lanterns – Kirishitan-dōrō (キリシタン燈籠)
Snow-viewing lantern – Yukimi-dōrō (雪見燈籠)
Triangle lantern – Sankaku-dōrō (三角燈籠)
Three-lights lantern – Sankō-dōrō (三光燈籠)
Buried stone lanterns – Ikekomi-dōrō (活け込み燈籠)
Oribe stone lanterns (織部燈籠)

8 pages with
25 pictures about the stone lanterns of the Katsura Rikyu garden.

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Katsura Rikyu is located in Kyoto’s west. The easiest way to get there is to take the Kyoto City bus 33 from Kyoto station and get off at the “Katsura Rikyu mae” bus stop. You can also take the Hankyu Kyoto train until Katsura station and walk from there in 15 minutes in eastern direction.

JP: 〒615-8014 京都府京都市西京区桂御園
EN: Katsuramisono, Nishikyo Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 615-8014

Reservation required at the Imperial Household Agency.
Same-day reservations are ok.
A contingent of tickets is available each day from 11 am on a first come first-served basis.

1000 Yen Admission fee.
Only visitors above 12 years are allowed.

Sankei-en  (三溪園)

This beautiful landscape garden in Yokohama is one of Japan’s youngest gardens. Construction works began in 1902 and it was opened to the public in 1906. The founder of the garden, Sankei Hara, a silk trader from Yokohama, has collected numerous buildings from all over Japan. Japanese buildings can often be dismantled and put together in another place. This is what Sankei did to preserve these historically significant buildings.

The garden has several ponds and streams. In the outer garden, next to the main pond, the Main Hall and three-storied pagoda of Tōmyō-ji temple in Kyoto have been rebuilt.

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How to get there
From the Yokohama main station, take bus number 8 towards Honmoku-Shako (本牧車庫) and get off at Honmoku-Sankei-en-mae. From there, walking in south western direction, follow the signs toward the park entrance.

58-1 Honmokusannotani, Naka Ward, Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture

500 yen

Openting times
9am – 5pm (last entrance 30 before closing time)
Not open between December 29th and 31st.