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
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
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