The serene setting of Shinjuku Gyoen offered a contemplative viewing of Hanami. The Imperial Gardens completed in 1906, was once the residence of the Naito family (daimyo) in the Edo period. A very cold and cloudy day provided a dramatic backdrop as I roamed the vast park for over two hours touring approximately 145 acres of French Formal, English Landscape and Japanese Traditional gardens. Overall, this venue had a more serious tone, as there was no alcohol allowed on the premises and bags were inspected at the gate. The crowds were small in comparison to other locales and the sounds of the city seemed to disappear as one traversed the stately grounds of vast sweeping lawns, ponds, towering trees and interesting structures–wooden bridges, the Taiwan Pavillion, a tea house and various stone reliquary statues. With more space to spread their roots and branches, the sakura trees were impressively grand and enormous. Shinjuku Gyoen has over 1,500 cherry trees featuring Shidare (Weeping Cherry), Somei (Tokyo Cherry), Kanzan (Cherry). I also liked the visual contrast of the pale blossoms against the Himalayan Cedars and other vegetation which created a painterly impressionistic effect.
I strolled contentedly taking pictures until my fingers literally froze. Eventually, a melodic tune played signalling all visitors to leave. I joined the quiet procession of departing visitors feeling very calm and refreshed.