The beautiful garden of the Chinzanso in Tokyo

Last night, in Tokyo living a Travelife, after a lovely dinner at the Chinzanso, we took a walk around the magical gardens of the hotel.

I’d been coming here ever since the hotel first opened as the Four Seasons Chinzanso, but I hadn’t been in the last five years or so.

On January 1 of this year, the hotel reverted to the sole management of the Japanese owner, Fujita Kanko.

Just a few more days to buy this special issue of Travelife Magazine. On sale until August 15…


I’d completely forgotten just how magical these gardens are, located in the heart of old, aristocratic Tokyo.

These truly are among the most beautiful gardens of Tokyo, and certainly the loveliest one that is open to the public.

If you visit Tokyo, this is certainly one special place to stay in.

But even if you decide not to stay, you must at least come for dinner and a walk in the gardens after. It has some wonderful traditional restaurants in the gardens which I highly recommend for an experience of how Tokyo used to be like.

Even for me, it’s a reminder of the good old days of Japan.


The first time I’d visited the Chinzanso was as a graduate student in Tokyo.

One of my professors had an apartment just around the corner from here and he’d asked me to house-sit for the summer since he was off to Europe.

I’d happily agreed, eager to experience living in this part of town, which was — at least until then — a part of Tokyo I didn’t really know.

And what a fascinating part of town this truly is, since many noble pre-war families had their estates near here.


Many years ago, when I was still very young, someone had hosted a formal kaiseki dinner in my honor at the hotel’s traditional restaurant.

I still remember how amazing that dinner had been.

It was also in the summer. After dinner we had walked around the garden to see the fireflies.

The Chinzanso garden is famous for its fireflies — and it really is an experience worth making an effort to see.

Unfortunately, this time around, we were too late for it.


Then, during a couple of stockmarket booms in Japan, the Chinzanso was again a hot spot because everyone loved going to Bice, the Tokyo outpost of a very famous Italian restaurant.

This was before the Michelin guide and all the rankings came to Asia, and fine dining became such a competitive sport.

People just went to Bice because it served very good food and you were guaranteed a wonderful evening.


Last night, all these memories crossed my mind.

But mostly, I just enjoyed the fine weather, walking around the truly beautiful gardens of the Chinzanso, on just another evening in my never-ending, and never-endingly eventful Travelife.