Autumn is one the best times to visit Japanese gardens, second to the cherry blossom season. After visiting big gardens and parks like Sankeien Garden in Yokohama and Shinjuku Gyoen, I wanted to visit a garden in a more intimate setting. I ended up visiting one place that has changed my perception of Japanese gardens: the Nezu Museum Garden.
Why visit the Nezu Museum Garden
Situated in posh Omotesando, just moments away from the busy streets, Nezu is first a museum (the clue is the name, right?). It was once the secondary home of Nezu Kaichurō, a Japanese entrepreneur and art collector.
The museum is an urban oasis in the heart of the busy neighbourhood and capital. It was restored in 2009 by architect Kengo Kuma after the original building was destroyed during World War II.
Check out the Nezu Museum collection
Entry to the museum premises is through a beautiful but minimalist pathway which is decorated with pebbles and bamboo; you discover a peaceful environment. The interior is grand with the collection spreading on two levels. The hall with its bay windows give people a peek of the “ pièce de résistance ”: the garden.
Nezu’s collection includes about 7,000 pre-modern Japanese and East Asian art gathered throughout the years. As you explore the collection, you see ceramics, calligraphy, kimono fabrics, paintings, sculptures and other objects. My favourite piece was a pair of beautifully decorated screens made during the Edo period.
Through exceptional, I didn’t spend too much time exploring the collection, because my primary reason for visiting was to see the garden.
Explore the garden in the heart of the city
As you push the glass door to the garden, you are lead through stone pathways. The different colours of the trees ranging from yellow to bright red made the small garden an enchanting place. I took pleasure wandering through the winding paths, discovering small tea houses and ponds. What impressed me the most was how tranquil it was. If not for the sound of people greeting each other as they meet, the only sound you hear will be the birds singing. It’s hard to believe that such a garden is located in busy Tokyo!
Have a relaxing tea
A trip to a Japanese garden will not be complete without a break in a Japanese tea room. To help you relax after visiting the museum, visitors can stop by the NEZUCAFÉ for a taste of delicious matcha tea accompanied by traditional Japanese pastry.
Once visitors are done exploring the garden, they can stop at the gift shop located near the exit. It offers anything from postcards to Japanese crafts like candles or silk bags. I found them to be again a bit pricey but they are nice to look at.
To sum up, the Nezu Museum Garden is an oasis in the middle of busy Tokyo. If you love beautiful architecture and gardens, this garden is a for you.
- Address: 6-5-1 Minami Aoyama, Minato-ku, Tokyo
- Access: less than 10-minute walk from Exit A5 of Omotesandō station on the Ginza, Hanzōmon and Chiyoda lines
- Opening dates and times: Daily except for Mondays; open 10:00-17:00
- Cost: Museum collection Adult: 1000 yen (student 800 yen) – special exhibition Adult: 1,300 yen (student: 1,100 yen).
Note: the garden is not wheelchair or stroller friendly since it is hilly.
Have you been to the Nezu Museum Garden? What is you favourite thing about Japanese gardens? Please comment below.