shuzo serikawa

Asakusa's Denboin Garden

A stunning step back in time, but only for a limited time

shuzo serikawa
Kim   - 3 min read

You could structure a trip to Japan solely based on garden-hopping, and Tokyo is blessed with some truly stunning ones to enjoy. There are big-name spots like Shinjuku Gyoen, the Hamarikyu Gardens, and Rikugien Gardens, but there are a myriad of lesser-known gardens, too—and they're just as breathtaking.

Asakusa's Denboin Garden is one of them, and it's often referred to as a hidden gem or Tokyo's secret garden. Situated adjacent to the famous Senso-ji Temple, Denboin is special in that it's only open to the public for a limited window annually. This narrow window may seem disappointing, but once upon a time the garden was only accessible to nobility.

It's said that the garden was created in the early 17th Century by respected gardener Kobori Enshū, and it spans an area of around 12,000 square meters. Designed as a kaiyushiki teien, or “circuit-style garden,” the garden's scenery is designed to change as you make your way around it. Along with the natural beauty of the gardens, the grounds are also home to a small lake, the Tenyu-an tea house, and a reception hall.

The buildings on the grounds are rarely open to the public even when the garden is, but they're still beautiful to gaze at. Speaking of gazing, the garden also offers some great views of Senso-ji's five-storied pagoda and Tokyo Skytree — the contrast between Skytree's modernity and the garden's tradition in particular has a certain charm.

The grounds of Denboin also give a great view of Skytree, offering a wonderful juxtaposition of tradition and modernity
The grounds of Denboin also give a great view of Skytree, offering a wonderful juxtaposition of tradition and modernity (Photo: shuzo serikawa / CC BY-SA 2.0)

The opening dates for the garden are typically posted on the official Senso-ji website, but if you do hope to visit, plan for spring. Based on previous years the window tends to be from mid-March through to early May, aligning with seasonal highlights like cherry trees in bloom.

The last time that the gardens were open, access was priced at JPY300. Do note that this may change in the future.

Getting there

Denboin Garden is located approximately 5 minutes on foot from the main Asakusa Station building (operated by the Tobu Railway, Tokyo Metro, and Toei Subway), or about 3 minutes on foot from the Tsukuba Express Asakusa Station.

Kim

Kim @kim.b