Top choice gardens

in Ueno & Yanesen
©Takashi Images/Shutterstock
©Takashi Images/Shutterstock

Considered by many to be Tokyo's most elegant garden, Rikugi-en was originally completed in 1702, at the behest of a feudal lord. It is definitely the most highbrow, designed to evoke scenes from classical literature and mythology. But no context is necessary to appreciate the wooded walkways, stone bridges, central pond, trickling streams and wooden teahouses of this beautifully preserved garden. At one teahouse you can drink matcha (powdered green tea; ¥620) al fresco while overlooking the water.

There is almost always something in bloom at Rikugi-en, though the garden is most famous for its maple leaves in late autumn. Usually during late November and early December, the park stays open until 9pm and the trees are illuminated after sunset. In spring, the highlight is the large weeping cherry tree near the entrance.

Free, hour-long guided tours in English are offered at 11am and 2pm on the 1st and 3rd Sunday of the month.