Located near the edge of the eastern plateau that extends parallel to the Nile, Helwan is less than five kilometres away from the water, 85m above sea level and 40m above common (Cairo) ground. It is about 28km from the Cairo city center. Helwan was an exclusive location between the two World Wars, with pashas wintering here and using it as a getaway in the spring and autumn. After the Revolution, the area became the center of large-scale housing developments, steel and cement factories and a large power station. The region is marked by serious environmental degredation brought about by industry and pollution with air quality far worse than that of Cairo. However, recent efforts have reduced this pollution.
The Japanese garden is located within walking distance from the Cairo-Helwan railway station. It appears to date from the period between the two World Wars and was restored in the 1960's after a period of neglect. It is unclear what state the gardens are in today.