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The most beautiful garden hotels in Tokyo

The Japanese capital of Tokyo might be the largest metropolis in the world, but it’s remarkably green, writes Natasha Dragun.

Nature is particularly revered on the grounds of the most beautiful garden hotels in Tokyo; the Hotel New Otani Tokyo, the Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo and The Prince Sakura Tower Tokyo & Takanawa Hanakohro.

There’s something in the air. A subtle perfume that is at once intoxicating and invigorating. Fairy-wing-like petals in pale pink sway to the ground when the wind picks up. It’s a gentle reminder of why Tokyo looks and smells so good in spring: cherry blossoms.

Tens of thousands of these magical trees line the capital, blooming once a year in the celebrated season. Of course, you can experience sakura in many parks and gardens. But perhaps the best vantage is from one of these unique hotels in Tokyo, where a homage to nature is just as important as a comfortable stay. And better yet, at these three stunning accommodations, the foliage is a year-round experience.

Come for the blossoms; linger for the leaf-peeping.

Hotel New Otani Tokyo

The immense gardens at the Hotel New Otani Tokyo date back 400 years, when daimyō Katō Kiyomasa owned a residence on the site. The whopping four-hectare grounds became part of the hotel in the lead-up to the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games. Today, however, they’re almost as big a hit as the sporting event itself.

The estate is home to enormous, rare jade, akadama and fossil-flecked stones. In fact, you can even visit a Stone Garden. Shrouded by fragrant pines, and with rake marks depicting the ripples of mountains, tranquillity comes easy here. Plus, there are ponds – some home to hundreds of big-lipped koi in a rainbow of colours. And that’s in addition to the heron, ducks and bush warblers that call the estate home.

Cross Seisen Pond, over the lipstick-red traditional taikobashi bridge, to discover ancient stone lanterns beside waterfalls. You’ll also want to keep an eye out for shrines hidden amid Japanese nutmeg and plum pine trees. In addition, there’s even a teahouse. And every evening, the garden is set aglow with an illumination show curated by lighting designer Motoko Ishii. Fittingly, it’s all LED, making it as environmentally friendly as it is engaging. It’s also open to non-hotel guests.  

Tour the ancient gardens of the Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo

It’s easy to think you’ve been transported to the rainforest with all the greenery of the Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo. Known as one of the most beautiful hotels in Tokyo, wander through the gardens to discover fern-enveloped waterfalls and wild camellias that spring to life when winter descends. This area has been celebrated for its rare blooms for some 700 years.

Guests can sign up for a tour of the nearly seven-hectare gardens, revealing a grand three-storey pagoda. It was built around 600 years ago, incredibly without the use of a single nail. There are also stone monuments, shrines and temples, and a sacred tree that dates back more than five centuries.

Plants are dusted with snow in winter, followed by a kaleidoscope of flowers in spring. Next, summer brings fireflies. Meanwhile, autumn signals the fiery hues of deciduous plants, which your guide will point out. This is in addition to the plethora of animals that find refuge here. Non-guests are also welcome to visit independently.

The Prince Sakura Tower Tokyo & Takanawa Hanakohro

The late Kusuoka Teiji worked on the Japanese gardens that envelop The Prince Sakura Tower Tokyo & Takanawa Hanakohro. If you recognise his name, that’s because he also designed the famed grounds of Tokyo’s Imperial Palace. Calling upon landscaping royalty means that the two-hectare grounds are a jaw-dropping union of flowers. There are also approximately 210 cherry trees of 17 varieties.

As with every Japanese garden worth its weight in views, there’s a pond with carp, a sakurabashi bridge across the stream, a temple dedicated to Kannon (Goddess of Mercy), and a bell tower. You don’t have to be a guest to enjoy these grounds. But, if do happen to be staying, you can enjoy gloriously spacious rooms and suites with stellar vistas from the hotel’s garden-view rooms.

Japanese garden at The Prince Sakura Tower Tokyo
Japanese garden at The Prince Sakura Tower Tokyo

Explore Tokyo’s relaxing green spaces

Alongside beautiful garden hotels in Tokyo, the city has an array of stunning parks, walking trails and green spaces.

Start with a trip to Ueno Park. This was Tokyo’s first public park and home to many of the city’s finest tourist attractions. After soaking in the sweet smell of cherry blossom, stop off at some of Tokyo’s best museums. These include the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, the Tokyo National Museum and the National Museum of Nature and Science.

Next, head to the Imperial Palace East Gardens. This is the only part of the inner palace that is open to the public. It’s a popular spring cherry blossom viewing spot in the city centre. Don’t leave without wandering around the peaceful Ninomaru Garden or taking an up-close look at the ruins of Edo Castle.

Finally, those who’ve packed their hiking shoes might want to check out Mount Takao. Just 50 minutes from Tokyo, the Mount Takao natural recreation area offers some of the best hiking trails and scenic views within easy reach of the city centre. You can even see Mount Fuji from the summit on clear days. Back down the mountainside, there’s a temple, monkey house and statues scattered around the many hiking trails to discover. Takao is especially busy in the autumn and spring when leaf-changing and cherry blossom viewings are at their peak.

Main image: Japanese gardens in Spring © Hotel New Otani Tokyo

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