Set-up originally in the late Edo period (18th century) by the Lord Naito, a powerful daimyo of the era, this large park is now a national park under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Environment.

Though this park is an interesting combination of traditional Japanese, French and English garden design, the main garden features to me for this trip were obviously the Japanese garden areas. The heart of this is a central 'avenue' of ponds and lakes, intertwined with a classic Japanese  kaiyū-shiki-teien or stroll garden and a roji or Tea garden.

Unfortunately in this part of Japan the classic cherry blossom period is over, so rather than floating in clouds of white and pink above our heads, we were treading recently fallen blossom into the ground! As the above photo shows, there is however reasonable compensation in the masses of Azalea's in bloom as well as both the Hydrangea's and Camelia's only days away from joining the show.

 The park is also home to an abundance of tree species. Of particular interest are the towering Cypress (above with their interesting root 'anthills' sprouting from the undergrowth), Ginkgo's, Liriodendron or Tulip trees and Himalayan Cedars. The Ginkgo's in particular make me wonder whether I may have planted a couple a little close to the house at home....

The Pinus too and their mature bonsai form staccato through the landscape are a far cry from the typical Australian park sylvestris.

Shinjuku may be best known for its high energy flourescent city-scape and its hideaway tataki and ramen bars but it is definitely worth taking a side-step into the Gyoen National Garden where the loudness and lights are very quickly a world away.

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