The great outdoors
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Outdoor picks

Hama-Rikyu Gardens - Park/garden: Tsukiji
[Open 9am-5pm (enter by 4:30) daily.]
Sitting on the Tokyo Bay waterfront in the shadow of the skyscrapers of Shiodome, this massive garden was once part of a shogun's villa, with two ponds that were used for wild-duck hunting. It contains the only tidal pond in Tokyo, with a lock that...
Meiji Jingu - Shrine: Harajuku
[Open sunrise to sunset daily.]
One of Tokyo's major tourist destinations, Meiji Shrine is especially popular at New Year's, drawing more than three million visitors during the first three days of January. (The main New Year's Day ritual is held at 7am on January 1.) Other...
Takaosan - Park/garden: Hachioji
Located less than an hour from Shinjuku station, Mount Takao is a popular hiking destination, drawing some 2.5 million visitors every year. There are several different trails to choose from, and the climb from base to summit, standing 599 meters...
Tama Zoo - Zoo: Hino-shi
[Open 9:30am-5pm (enter by 4pm). Closed Wednesdays.]
The goal of Tama Zoo is to display animals from various parts of the world in naturalistic habitats. Spread out over the vast 129-acre grounds are three distinct ecological areas - the Asiatic Garden, African Garden, and Australian Garden. There's...

Gardens

Jindai Botanical Gardens - Park/garden: Chofu-shi
[Open 9:30am-5pm (last entry 4pm). Closed Mondays.]
Tokyo's largest botanical garden, Jindai is planted with 120,000 trees and bushes representing 4,500 different species. The 750 cherry trees in the cherry grove turn this into a major destination during hanami season, and the plum and rose gardens...
Kiyosumi Gardens - Park/garden: Kiyosumi-Shirakawa
[Open 9am-5pm (enter by 4:30) daily.]
The garden area here is laid out around a large pond inhabited by turtles, carp and ducks and other birds. Kiyoumi Gardens is best known for its collection of exotic landscape stones gathered from around Japan, many of which are used to create...
Koishikawa Korakuen Gardens - Park/garden: Iidabashi
[Open 9am-5pm (enter by 4:30) daily.]
Construction on this vast, 70,000-square-meter landscape garden began in 1629 by members of the Mito Tokugawa family. The garden presents visitors with a series of walks over bridges and ponds and artificially constructed hills, offering vistas of...
Kyodo no Mori Museum - Park/garden: Fuchu-shi
[Open 9am-5pm (last entry 4pm). Closed Mondays.]
An open-air folk-history museum, Kyodo no Mori houses a number of historical buildings including farmhouses, stores and a townhouse. The main building has exhibition rooms focusing on local history and a large planetarium. The park is also...
Shinjuku Gyoen - Park/garden: Shinjuku Gyoen-mae
[Open 9am-4:30pm (enter by 4pm). Closed Mondays.]
The lovely gardens here include sections with three distinct styles - English landscape gardens, French formal gardens, and Japanese traditional gardens. There are several ponds, and a couple of teahouses where you can stop for green tea and sweets...

Parks

Hibiya Park - Park/garden: Uchisaiwaicho
A pleasant oasis of greenery in the middle of Tokyo's business and shopping districts, the park features two large flower gardens and two domed music/event stages that often host concerts and festivals, especially on weekends. Dating back to 1903,...
Himonya Koen Kodomo Dobutsu Hiroba - Park/garden: Meguro-ku
[Open 10-11:30am, 1:30-3pm. Closed Mondays.]
Predating the era of cat and rabbit cafes by many years, petting zoos offer a friendly, interactive animal experience for young kids (and their parents) without the cover charge or the expensive cafe au lait. The one here lets you play with...
Inokashira Park - Park/garden: Kichijoji
You live in Tokyo and so you know all you ever need to know about life in the fast lane. But to savor the city at its most engagingly indolent, you take the trip out to Inokashira Park. This spot in Kichijoji is a place to unwind, sip a few beers...
Jingu Gaien Nikoniko Park - Park/garden: Shinanomachi
[Open 10am-5pm daily.]
This popular children's park inside the Meiji Jingu Gaien grounds features rather elaborate slides, simulated waterfalls and log cabins.
Tokyo Port Wild Bird Park - Park/garden: Ota-ku
[Open 9am-5pm (Nov-Jan -4:30pm; last entry 30 minutes earlier). Closed Mondays.]
Open to the public since 1989, the Wild Bird Park (Tokyoko Yacho Koen in Japanese) is a 24-hectare nature preserve built on reclaimed land in Tokyo Bay. Within the park are several diverse habitats fashioned to attract a variety of wildlife, with...
Yatsuhigata Nature Observation Center - Park/garden: Minami-Funabashi
[Open 9am-5pm (enter by 4:30pm). Closed Mondays.]
Yatsu Higata, a 1000-acre mudflat connected to Tokyo Bay, is one of the better bird-watching spots in the Tokyo metropolitan area. The wetlands here are an excellent place to see migrating shorebirds during their stopover in Japan, with good...
Yoyogi Park - Park/garden: Harajuku
[Open summer 5am-8pm; winter 5am-5pm daily.]
This sprawling park next to Harajuku station (and adjacent to Meiji Jingu shrine) draws a big, diverse crowd on Sundays, but is much quieter during the week.

More outdoors

Edo-Tokyo Open-Air Architectural Museum - Museum: Koganei
[Open April-Sept 9:30am-5:30pm; Oct-March 9:30am-4:30pm (last entry 30 min earlier). Closed Mondays (or Tues if Mon is natl holiday).]
This massive open-air museum features preserved and reconstructed examples of Tokyo's Edo-era architecture. Besides merchants' mansions and crowded shops, there's also a mausoleum and a bathhouse. The visitor's center was once a pavilion of the...
Ichigaya Fish Center - Sports facility: Ichigaya
[Open 9am-8pm daily.]
Located right next to Ichigaya Station, this well-stocked fishing hole has a special section for children. Tropical fish, marine plants and tanks are sold in the large aquarium shop next to the fishing area.
Institute for Nature Study - Park/garden: Shirokanedai
[Open 9am-4:30pm (enter by 4pm). Closed Mondays.]
Enjoy hiking through 20 hectares (49 acres) of densely wooded grounds at this nature-education park just a few minutes from Shirokanedai station. Unlike most of Tokyo's well-manicured parks and gardens, the goal of this park was to recreate the...
Nihon Minka-en - Museum: Mukogaoka Yuen
[Open 9:30am-5pm (last entry 4:30pm). Closed Mondays.]
Also known as the Japan Open-Air Folk House Museum, this sprawling park is home to two dozen old houses that were built between the 17th and 19th centuries. The buildings were transported from various parts of Japan and reconstructed here, and they...
Tokyo Riding Club - Sports facility: Sangubashi
If you're bored with the ski machine and the stairmaster at your gym, why not limber up with a little horseback riding? Tokyo Riding Club has everything you need - horses, saddles, stirrups - and it's conveniently located inside Yoyogi Park, so you...