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Popular Tokyo cherry blossom-viewing park increases admission prices by 150%

32 Comments
By Casey Baseel, SoraNews24

While some of Japan’s most famous cherry blossom-viewing destinations are located in far-flung corners of the country or high in the mountains, you can still see dazzling displays of the flowers right in the middle of Tokyo. One of the best sakura spots is located just a short walk from Shinjuku Station, where you’ll find Shinjuku Gyoen garden.

The grounds are beautiful at any time of year, but particularly so in spring. Just inside the gates is a wide, grassy field ringed by cherry blossom trees, perfect for spreading out a blanket for a picnic, and more sakura await deeper inside as you stroll along the crisscrossing paths and bridges.

If  the name Shinjuku Gyoen sounds familiar, it might be because the garden was previously in the news for an unusual reason. Shinjuku Gyoen charges admission, but it was discovered that one employee had been regularly letting foreigners in for free because he felt too scared to tell them about the admission fee, with one estimate of the lost revenue coming to 25 million yen.

▼ Shinjuku Gyoen entrance

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However, Shinjuku Gyoen is about to see a major bump in its income, and not just because of the extra guests coming to see the cherry blossoms. Just days before the flowers started blooming in Tokyo, new ticket prices went into effect for the garden, and they’re now more than double what they were before.

As of March 19, adult admission to Shinjuku Gyoen is now 500 yen, a proportionally huge jump from its previous 200 yen. The new price was announced back in January, but it’s still startling to see the changeover happen right as so many people are planning to have hanami (cherry blossom-viewing) parties in the park over the next two weeks.

However, you could argue the ticket prices were long overdue for a revision, since they’d stayed the same since 1994. There are also a few extra niceties accompanying the increase, such as extended hours (the garden is now open until 6 p.m. in the spring and fall and 7 p.m. in the summer), and underway renovations include expanded bathroom facilities.

And another bright side is that even at more than double the old price, 500 yen is still a pretty reasonable admission fee to one of the largest green spaces in central Tokyo, especially when its trees are turning pink.

Sources: Tokyo MX, Ministry of the Environment

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

-- Won’t be in Japan in time for the cherry blossoms? Tochigi’s wisteria festival is just as magical

-- Solo sakura: Four reasons to have a one-person cherry blossom-viewing party

-- Sakura in Japan 2019: The best spots for hanami cherry blossom viewing

© SoraNews24

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

32 Comments
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Well, 500 yen is not that much money. I'll still go.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

Nothing spells appreciation of nature and its restorative qualities like cones, lines, and baton wielding guards.

17 ( +20 / -3 )

Used to go to that park every weekend for group yoga gatherings. For hanami I prefer much smaller and much less crowded parks. There are many if you look. If I did want to get drunk with the masses, I'd go to Inokashira Park in Kichijoji.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

I painted there but never during the cherry blossom. Still a good price for spending a whole day there. Next week we'll go and eat and drink at Himeji Castle along with tens of thousands of others.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

I’ll be doing my Hanami for free...:!

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Glad I live in the boonies where its free.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Ah my first ever Japanese park! A sunny and not too cold January 2013. I remember going..ooh we have to pay to go into a park? I then had a naughty 'kick about' with my then ex J girly's ten year old son. I got a good pic of a slightly fat me about to hoof a football! I'd just like to point out that football is not allowed in this park kiddies...but as my J girly said it was ok, I took her word for it. 500Y for this park...it's still worth it!

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

@jcapan, nail on the head! Gave up going to those "viewing parties" a while back. Cherry blossoms are nice but seeing them while walking or from the elevated trains is enough for me.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

No thank you. Loads of great places to go for free that are far more pleasant.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Japan will find nearly any reason to charge admission and make people form a line. It’s cheap but feels strange to pay to go into a park like this.

Always comes with the cones and guards as mentioned above. as well as the guy has to be making announcements all day into some type of microphone/speaker thing.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Osaka Coin Mint Museum you feet will not touch the ground while being carried along for the night-view.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

This is a public park?

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Don't worry next year I'm guessing there will be blossoms and you can (if its so important) find a free viewing of said blossoms. Or you could plant a tree and shuffle around it, take a photo in case you forget how a blossom looks like.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Shinjuku Gyoten is good but there are many more better and free of charge places to enjoy the cherry blossoms. And the majority of the offer splendid views.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Wish I owned property there. Nobody will pay me nothing to view my mesquite "trees" and cactuses (technically cacti).

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Bugleboy:

If I'm paying exorbitant amount of taxes, I'm expecting to get free healthcare, free education through uni, comfortable pension and unemploymemt...and free parks. If govt can't provide, disband. Paying fees anyway.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

500 is fine for hanami.

But they should have discounts for seniors.

Went on last Saturday it was not even five trees with hanami and 2000 tourists mostly Chinese Vietnamese Philpino of top of those.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

"with one estimate of the lost revenue coming to 25 million yen."

For ONE staff letting in foreigners for free, at the cost of 200 per person? So, this one staff let in 125,000 foreigners in? I have my doubts. Methinks it's just an excuse to justify the hike. And who would want to go anyway? Go so you can fight a crowd taking pics of the same thing they have 10,000,000,000 (by my estimates) pictures of already? Thanks, but I'll take the rather beautiful, small, and most importantly almost empty (of people) park near my house and also the walk along the river (the bank with a cherry blossom tree every few meters) any day.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

I will also give this park a very wide birth LOL!!

SIJapan,

That story about foreigners being let in for free is real but I think it was discovered a fair number of years ago, not recent news, but the guy had been waving in foreigners for many years until he was ""caught"" LOL!!

As for hanami, I have already seen tons & places awash in cherry tree's don't do much for me, I now prefer a short walk from my house down to the rice fields where there are a few spaced of tree's that often look pretty good. Get to share the scene with the frogs singing, crows, hawks etc, might get lucky & see a weasel(hitachi) or a few other critters, a snake is always a cool bonus & I will unlikely come across another soul, perhaps someone walking a dog, very chill!

6 ( +6 / -0 )

GW that's awrsom, love those critters.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

@jcapan

Nothing spells appreciation of nature and its restorative qualities like cones, lines, and baton wielding guards.

Indeed! Not to mention constant announcements made through multiple loudspeakers... nature appreciation at its best!

7 ( +7 / -0 )

You will pay for anything that make you happy, and pay more than ever, as simple as that.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

GW: "That story about foreigners being let in for free is real but I think it was discovered a fair number of years ago, not recent news, but the guy had been waving in foreigners for many years until he was ""caught"" LOL!!"

Oh, I have no doubt it's true the guy let people pass for fear of speaking to them, but where on earth do they get these crazy estimates all the time? It's like the brochures, probably advertising this garden, in fact, that will say, "An estimated 10,000,000 blossom pedals spread out at the peak times, and also in the park are 50,000 Azalea flowers!" Whenever people decide that speaking to me means rehashing a tourist brochure full of such stats, I joke, "Did you count them?" and it's deer-in-headlights. Point being, they have absolutely ZERO way of knowing, especially if the guy was letting people in without saying. No way he kept count of how many people he didn't charge.

As for the rest of your post, couldn't have said it better. Would much rather take a leisurely walk and "hana wo miru" than get mired in the mess of popular sights and people jostling for a better view, or fighting over spots to spread out blue tarp and get drunk, etc. A nice quiet view and some wabi-sabi is a whole lot better for the soul.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

If I did want to get drunk with the masses, I'd go to Inokashira Park in Kichijoji.

Clearly you have never been to Inokashira Park during hanami season. It is one of the worst for drunken debauchery

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Last year we finally made a visit to Yoshino in Nara. Train from Osaka. Well worth the experience.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Should go there. Walk in without paying. (They escort you out) Put your foot over the entrance. Take a step closer. Rinse and repeat. Leave. Come back 5 minutes later with 10 more foreigners and repeat, but spread out 10 meters between each of us.

Say, "I'll be back." Leave. Come back with a toy car and crash it into the security guard's shoes.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

They’ll only make more money if they can ensure that the ticketing staff don’t trouser the receipts.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It's a nice park. The last time we went there it was free due to it being Green Day, or similar.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I now prefer a short walk from my house down to the rice fields where there are a few spaced of tree's that often look pretty good. Get to share the scene with the frogs singing, crows, hawks etc, might get lucky & see a weasel(hitachi) or a few other critters, a snake is always a cool bonus & I will unlikely come across another soul, perhaps someone walking a dog, very chill!

people still want to live in the rat race that is the city when the best part about J living is the country, Im approx 50 min from the city by car, parks are free hardly ever crowded , parking is free , driving around is easy no need to take a bus of train. Housing is cheap, my home is about 3x bigger than your average city home parking for 4 vehicles and the mortagage is about half that of a city home. While Im classified as rural my city has about 70,000 people, 5 minutes from 3 supermarkets , 15 minutes from 2 shopping centers. Taxes about the same as city living but your not ripped off by all these extra charges that people have to pay living in the city, not to mention the air quality is much better. There come a time in life when convenience isnt worth what all cracked up to be. Even if I worked in the city id happily commute the 50min each way to live the lifestyle I have now, moving to a rural area was the best life choice Ive made for my family by far

1 ( +1 / -0 )

wtfjapan couldn't agree more. End of last year more from Kobe to the beach area of Tatsuno in a very large three bedroom house and three family rooms plus large parking and covered walking port for less rent than a one room in Tokyo. From my window I can huge fields of farming. Soon 5 minute walk to large MaxValue and two large pharma. Hospital five minute walk. Clean sea air. Huge river, Ibogawa nearby. Himeji Station short ride. Kobe 1 hour. Osaka 1/12 and Kyoto 2 hour. Short distance to one of the biggest shopping I've never seen. 24 hour food store. The kids play out on the streets and cycle to school. Beautiful.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Actually, there is a path around the outside of Shinjuku Gyoen. And there is a section of this path where there are benches where you can sit and look at the cherry blossems inside the park. It's free! At least it is free now.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

PS The benches are on the north side of the park.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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