A forest in the middle of Tokyo? That's right. Whether it was nature studies that brought you to this plant loving country, or you just enjoy the sight and scent of flowers, then look no further, as we have selected the three best spots for autumn leaves, marshlands, ponds, and natural beauty in Japan:
Institute for Nature Study
(image by flickr.com)
This large green forest zone known as the Institute for Nature Study which remains in the heart of Tokyo has been designated as a Natural Monument as well as a Historic Site, and is a garden museum that has retained its natural appearance. The history of this land and the people is said to have begun from the lifestyles of people from ancient times according to the discovery of earthenware and mounds of shells from around 2500 years ago. During the Heian Era between the 9th and 12th centuries, rice fields were cultivated, and during the Muromachi Era (1337-1573), residences for powerful families were built there. In the Edo Era of the 17th century, gardens were also constructed as the residences for the daimyo (feudal lords). The old pine trees within the park that are known as The Fabled Pine and The Great Serpent Pine are said to be remnants from the age of the daimyo gardens when they were planted. Currently, unlike other botanical gardens, the zone is being preserved based on the idea “of retaining its original natural form as much as possible” as its lush natural scenery expands to the point where it’s hard to believe that it is part of the urban landscape.
Within this green zone which inhabits one corner of a quiet residential area, a beautiful scene has been created by deciduous and coniferous trees that traverses through the nature of the four seasons and puts the minds of visitors at ease. When you put your ear to the quiet and the sound of water from the fields of Japanese pampas grass and reeds, the ponds and the small stream flowing in the park, you feel that you are in another world and forget that you are in Tokyo. Take a stroll here while observing the naturally inhabiting insects and wild birds and relax while enjoying the splendid vista of the naturally blossoming flora. At the Institute for Nature Study, there are educational activities actively held such as a Sunday observation society where people can get an even closer look and deeper understanding of nature.
Admission: ¥ 310
- Guidebook from Planetyze about Institute for Nature Study
- Reviews from TripAdvisor about Institute for Nature Study
- Tours of Institute for Nature Study
Nikko Botanical Garden
(image by upload.wikimedia.org)
The garden was established in 1902 as a research and educational area for alpine plants and cold-weather flora. Afterwards, part of the former Tamozawa villa and the adjoining area were donated to the garden to create a total area of 106,980㎡. There are rivers flowing within the huge garden, and with Japan’s first Western-style horticultural site of Rock Garden and the bog gardens which use an abundance of water, you can view an alpine landscape that re-creates a highland beech forest among other things.
The spring is the time to see the cherry blossoms and rhododendron. The rhododendron which blooms in mid-April is related to the representative azalea that marks a Nikko spring. Immediately afterwards, the cherry trees start blossoming heralding the arrival of the season. From spring to summer, Mizubasho Pond is a place to see. In mid-April, skunk cabbage (mizubasho) blossoms in the hundreds as their white spathes become very noticeable. Violet irises provide color around the pond in early summer. There is one spot for autumn foliage. 21 out of the approximately 28 wild species in Japan are cultivated here. From late October to mid-November, you can enjoy the changing colors of autumn everywhere in the garden. The garden path running alongside the Daiya River becomes a red carpet of fallen leaves. Nikko Botanical Garden is closed annually from December 1st to April 14th. Winter plants are few because of the cold region, and with the dangers of snow accumulation, maintenance is necessary.
At the Tamozawa River flowing inside the garden, there is the Kayoimi Bridge. When this area was part of the Imperial villa, the Imperial family led by the Emperor went back and forth over the bridge. Refined stone lanterns stand silently, and you can catch a glimpse of what a Japanese garden of that time was like.
Admission: Adult: ¥ 400 / Child: ¥ 130
- Guidebook from Planetyze about Nikko Botanical Garden
- Reviews from TripAdvisor about Nikko Botanical Garden
- Tours of Nikko Botanical Garden
Hakone Botanical Garden of Wetlands
(image by upload.wikimedia.org)
Japan’s first wetland garden that starts from Hakone where 1700 species of flora live in the wetlands and marshes that exist between the high and low mountains of the nation. Closed during the winter.
Hakone Botanical Garden centers on the plant life thriving in the rivers and marshes originating from the wetlands. One particular feature is the walking path where you can look around the primeval wetlands from the lowlands to the mountains, and the wetlands that formed thereafter in order.
There are 8 zones within the garden: deciduous broad-leafed forests, dry grassy plains, low moors, Japanese moor grass plains, high mountain flower fields, high moors, the Sengokuhara wetlands and hygrophyte forests.
The flowers of more than 100 types of plants bloom in the garden. October is the peak time for Japanese pampas grass in the adjacent Sengokuhara. The grass that spreads out all over turns gold under the sun to become a shining carpet, a magnificent sight. As the autumn gets into full swing in the garden, the area is surrounded by the colors of flowers such as violet bellflowers and gold toad lilies. Right by the entrance, grass from mountains and fields from other countries is planted. Worthy of note are the unusual water plants from abroad. On the information board at the entrance, the best times to see the flowers are listed at any time.
Admission: Adult: ¥ 700 / Child: ¥ 400