Note: Tokyo is covered on a separate page.
Shinrin Koen (Musashi Kuryo Government Park (in English) in Saitama is a fabulous park that has an arboretum showcasing botanical plants, a fabulous athletic adventure park as well as an imaginative and creative playground/playland for kids, not to mention the cute little bus that you can get ride around the park in. Konchu Festa (Bug Festa) is held in summer till Sep 3 showcasing 20 species of “huge” and “cute” insects. Shokubutsu-en Botanical Gardens in Sapporo has thousands varieties of alpine plants and trees, local as well as species from around the world. Chuo-ku, Sapporo.
Sai-no-Kuni Fure’ai no Mori Forest, Saitama Phone: 0494-56-0026 Access: 447 Nakatsugawa, Chichibu-shi. Short walk from Nakatsugawa bus stop. Catch the bus bound for Nakatsugawa at Mitsumine-guchi Sta., Chichibu Line.
Saitama Nature Park Phone: 042-934-4396 Access: 889-1 Miyadera, Iruma-shi 10-minute walk from Hagiwara bus stop. Catch bus bound for either Miyadera-Nishi or Hakonegasaki-eki at Kotesashi Sta., Seibu-Ikebukuro Line.
Saitama Mizu Yijyo Koen in Saitama is a water park that features a variety of pools to splash in, slide around in, etc. Phone: 048-773-6711
Tokorozawa Airplane Memorial Park, Saitama. A sprawling park with playgrounds, grassy and flower spaces, rollerblading areas and an aviation museum with an IMAX Theatre. Access: A short walk from Koukuu Koen on the Seibu Shinjuku line.
Shin-rin Koen, Saitama. Beautiful garden park with playgrounds, climbing and slide and rent-a-bike facilities. Access: 1 hour from Ikebukuro, take the Tobu-Toju line to its terminus. http://www.asahi-net.or.jp/~ja8i-brtl/outings.html#shinrin
Kokuei-musashi-kyuuryou-shinrin-koen, Saitama. Phone: 0493-57-2111 The park features Japan’s largest trampoline, an adventure park course, “Musashi Kids Dome, water-splash spots for kids and a flower garden park with 500 sakura trees.
*Ibaraki Nature Museum. (website in English) This is a good nature museum. There is a mammoth exhibit, prehistoric earth diorama, nature exhibits on Ibaraki, Sugao-marsh habitat, Mt Tsukuba and the Beech forest of Okukuji, as well as an outdoor flower garden and ponds.
Kamine Park in Hitachi, Ibaraki prefecture has about 1000 cherry trees. The park also has an amusement park and a small zoo. Access: just north of Hitachi Station, see map for directions.
Oike Park, Tsukuba. A park with sports facilities and a pond, this is a good place to rent a row boat. Access: 1477-1 Hojo, off of Route 125 at the base of Mt. Tsukuba
Ikuta Ryokuchi (Ikuta Green Space Park) see official website This park, the largest expanse of greenery in the Kanto area, is located in Tama Hills and is visited by streams of people all year round. Built in beautiful natural surroundings, the park’s main facilities not only include a public golf course, but also the Taro Okamoto Museum of Art Kawasaki, traditional folk houses, a Traditional Craft Center, Kawasaki Municipal Science Museum for Youth, a Planetarium, an observation platform at the top of Mt. Masugata, and an iris garden. Access: From Machida Station, take the Odakyu Line to Mukogaoka-Yuen Park and walk 15 mins.
Kodomonomori Kodomo-no-mori, Aoba-ward, Yokohama. Access: 17 Mitake-dai Aoba-ku, Yokohama city. Phone: 045-972-7700 . Take the train to the Aoba-dai or Fujigaoka station on the Tokyu Line. Or take the bus bound for Shyosenin-mae. Some pictures of the park may be found here.
***Kodomo no kuni (see their website) Chuo ward, Kanagawa Prefecture. A great family park with a boating pond, petting and pony ride zoo, mini-steam engine and “boken” adventure-play-equipment. Mid-way between Tokyo and Yokohama Access:Take the Yokohama line to Nagatsuka Station and then via the special Kodomo no Kuni Line it is one stop to Kodomo no Kuni Sta. For access info see here and for an English review see here. Phone: 045-961-2111 Fax: 045-962-1366
Kanagawa no Ken-ritsu Koen-Zamayamatoyamkoen, Zama Access: via Odakyu line to Zama stn a 15 min walk to the park. A “satoyama” (typical Japanese country landscape managed by volunteers, with minka buildings.
***Kanazawa-Bunko Koen. Adjacent to the Kanazawa zoo. A very hilly park with great flower-viewings (marigold in mid-summer), a botanical park though most people walk through all that just to get to the huge jungle-gym and adventure park with allegedly the longest slide in Yokohama. Access: Take the Keihin Kyuko Line which leaves from Shinagawa and goes through Kawasaki, Yokohama, and Kami-Ooka before you get to Kanazawa-Bunko (take an express train). From Kanazawa-Bunko station, you have to take bus No. 1 for about 12 minutes and get off at Natsu-yama-sakaue stop. Official website in Japanese only
***Sagamihara Asamizo Koen. Sagamihara‘s best park is usually featured in photos with its tall observation tower. Actually a combination of several parks, it has sprawling flower-covered fields and open spaces, fountains, playgrounds an athletic course, petting zoo and pony rides and even a botanical garden. Access: 2317-1 Asamizodai, Kanagawa prefecture. For other parks in Sagamihara city, see the city office’s online Living Guide.
Mitsuike Park, Tsurumi-ku , very long roller slide, nice playground, water play area, Korean garden, picnic areas, small shop sells snacks and toys Access: By bus from Tsurumi Station (Keihin Tohoku Line), parking space, HP Japanese
Shiki no Mori Park, Midori Ku, website Japanese only, long roller slide, small new playground, picnic areas, pond Access: 15 minutes by foot from Nakayama station (Yokohama Line)
Port Symboltower, Naka-ku , Port. Area of grassy space, nice view onto the harbour from the symbol tower, closes at 4 p.m., Nov. to. Feb., at 8p.m. during summer vacations, otherwise at 5:30. No shops, but vending machines in the indoor eating area, big plus: never overcrowded. Access: Yokohama City Bus No. 26 from Yokohama Station, (the Bus terminal next to the Sogo Department takes ca. 40 min. or form Sakuragicho ca. 25 min., interesting ride through the port area, for some buses the final stop is at Umizuri Osanbashi, a fishing pier, from there it is another 800 m or so straight ahead to the park. Parking space also available. See this page
Kuraki Park, Konan-Ku Large grassy areas for picnic, snack-and-toy shop nearby soccer field, pirate swing and playground; Japanese garden, cherry tree-viewing picnic area, bird watching spot, lake and irrigated satoyama ditches with irises and good for crayfishing. Access: By bus from Isogo Station (Negishi Line) or Kamiooka Station, (Yokohama Subway and Keikyu Line) (the latter stop requires a 20 minute uphill walk before arriving at the park) See here for related info
Kishine Park, Kohoku-ku no HP, some Japanese info, two playgrounds, lots of grassy areas, one huge lawn where you can even fly kites, no shops, Access: next to Kishine Koen Station (Yokohama Subway), more info here
Shinrin Park, Naka-ku this one was mentioned, but some may not know that there is another park with a nice playground close by, which is next to and also behind the old horse stand. It is well worth a visit too, impressive view direction landmark tower onto the pagoda of the Nanking Cemetery. Access: Ca. 20 minutes on foot from JR Yamate Station (Negishi or (Negishi Line) or bus No. 103 from Yokohama station, bus terminal next to Sogo Department Store (ca. 40 minutes) up to the park, more info here
Honmoku Sanchou Park, Naka ku created in 1998, no HP, some Japanese info, no shops, very nice for a stroll with a view, some grassy ares, small playground, nice wooden walkway amongst green trees at the northern end Access: by bus fromYokohama Station or Sakuragicho Station, buses No. 8 or 148 (Honmoku/ Sankeien Garden) get off near Saty (in the Mycal Honmoku Shopping Area) keep right, go uphill see this page
Rinkou Park, Naka-ku Minato Mira, no Japanese HP, no playgrounds, very spacious, ideal for soccer, badminton etc, one inofficial water play area at the Northern end, nice view over the water to the Bay Bridge. Access: 5-10 minute walk from Minato Mirai (Minato Mirai Line, which is the extension of the Toyoko Line) For more info see this page
Nogeyama Park, Nishi Ku, no HP, near Nogeyama Zoo, nice view onto the city and Keikyu Line from an observation platform, space for picinic, totally rebuild playground at the western end, much safer but rather boring, the old one was nice.Access: 15-20 Minute by foot from JR Sakuragichi Station, (Yokohama Line, Keihin Tohoku Line); 10 minutes form Hinode Station (Keikyu Line) See the Nogeyama-zoo website
Yama and Minato no Mieru Oka Koen, Naka Ku: The relatively newly opened Furansu Yama, which contains the remains of the French consulate, can be accessed from Motomachi by climbing lots of stairs, (some impressive old trees) and leads up to the Harbour View Park, also nice rose garden, no playground or extensive grassy areas, though. Access: 2 minutes from Motomachi Chukagai Station (Minato Mirai LIne) turn right from the exit at the front of the train, to the bottom of the Furansu Yama.
Yokohama Park, Naka-ku: this one is not so impressive, as about half of it is occupied by the Yokohama Baseball stadium, and there are no grassy areas, but it is known for its beautiful tulips and other flowers. Its very dilapidated playground was changed three years ago for one with German equipment, might be interesting if you happen to be in Chinatown, and need to give the kids some exercise. Access: about 7 minutes from Nihon Odori (Minato Mirai Line).
***Shimizu Koen is a lovely family park that has everything: wooded areas, fantastic adventure-camp-athletics course equipment, a man-made paddle-stream that is popular with toddlers in summer, fountains, petting zoo. The wooden pirate-ship jungle-gym is a hit with kids too. Access: Shimizu, Noda-shi, 908 banchi, Chiba Prefecture. (website in Japanese) See map
Kashiwanoha Koen. A popular family park with free-admission facilities including a boating pond, gymnasium, botanical garden, Japanese garden and an adventure plaza (boken-no-hiroba). Access: Take the bus headed for Kashiwanoha Koen or the Kokuritsu Gan Center from the No. 2 bus stop at the west exit of Kashiwa Station. A five- to seven-minute walk from “Mitsui Jutaku-mae” or “Kashiwa-Nishiko-mae” bus stops. Location: 4-1 Kashiwanoha, Phone: 7134-2015) Source of access info
***Showa-no-mori Koen The largest park in Chiba city, it offers lots of attractions from adventure and athletics-obstacle course equipment for kids, to flower-viewing gardens to sunny lawns (Sunshine Place) as well as camping facilities.
The Moerenuma Park is designed was designed by world renowned sculptor Isamu Noguchi. This enormous park covers some 170 ha. and combines natural settings and outdoor sculptures into a relaxing park environment. There is the Sakura-no-Mori” (cherry woods) with 5,000 cherry trees, where more than 80 playground installations stand; “Moere Beach,” a water playground; “Play Mountain,” which affords a panoramic view; a roller-skating rink, tennis courts; and an athletic stadium. See Japan Times article for story http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fa20051013a1.html Access: Okadama-cho 599-1, Higashi-ku, Sapporo, is open to the public throughout the year. For more information, call (011)790-1231 or visit www.sapporo-park.or.jp/moere
*Matsumae Koen, Hokkaido. A park that brings together all the Satozakura (100 species) species of Japan. There are 8,000 cherry trees in all. Access: 2 hrs 20 minutes by car from Hakodate along Route 228. Follow signs to Matsumae Koen.
Odori-koen Park is an airy long city center park with monuments, trees, fountains and seasonal flower beds, the park bordered by grid-like roads is more characteristic of Europe than Japan.
Nakajima park is huge park south of the Susukino area and is the oldest park in Hokkaido. The park is a wonderful place to rest in the summer and is beautiful in the autumn with the changing colors of the trees. The park has a large pond in the middle where row boats can be rented. The weekends usually see the park full with families enjoying the summer and also there are often flea markets on Sundays (Note: the Japanese say ‘Free Market’ but this is just a mistake with pronunciation and the markets are not free.) There are several lovely buildings of architectural interest inside the park designated national cultural assets.
Nopporo Forest Park with 2,051ha. of natural forest, located 11 to 15Km east of downtown Sapporo, straddling the cities of ebetsu, Kitahiroshima and Sapporo. The centennial Memorial Tower, Historical Museum of Hokkaido (http://www.hmh.pref.hokkaido.jp/) and the Historical Village of Hokkaido are found on the outskirts of this park. The park is primarily a national forest with a specific portions designated as recreational forest, a wildlife protection area, and a forest reserve. The park has a 30Km-long nature trail from which various aspects of nature can be enjoyed throughout the year. There is a wealth of species of birds, smaller animals and insects, as well as over 500 species of birds, smaller animals and insects, as well as over 500 species of plants, in the park. During the winter, cross-country skiing trails invite visitors to the park. Contact the Nopporo Forest Park Office／ 011-… Atsubetsu-ku, Atsubetucho, Konopporo
Hokkaido University Botanical Garden has the primeval forest which covered the ground once. The area of this botanical garden is 134,000 square meters,and has over 4,000 kinds of plants. Address: Chuo-ku kita 3-Jo Nishi 8-Chome. Access: via Tozai subway line, Nishi 11-Chome
Makomanai Park and Salmon Museum, Sapporo. Beautiful large park with Olympic stadium and the salmon museum adjacent to it. Map here http://www.sapporo-park.or.jp/sake/english/loc.html Access: From Sapporo City it takes about 35 minutes. From Sapporo board the North South Subway and get off at the last station which is Makomanai Station. Then board a ‘Jotetsu bus’, there are several to choose from; South 90, South 95, South 96, South 97, South 98, or the Circle 96. just ask the driver if the bus is going to Makomanai Park. If you get off at the Kyogijo bus stop it’s about a 4-minute walk to the Salmon Museum.
Maruyama Park A particular favorite among residents of Sapporo, this beautifully laid out park has within its bounds the Huge Hokkaido Shrine, a Zoo and a High school Baseball Stadium. The park is well known for its large numbers of cherry trees which in Hokkaido usually blossom for about a week during May. In this season huge numbers of Japanese will gather for “Hanami” or cherry blossom parties. The parties consist of large groups of people, BBQ’s and a lot of beer. The cherry blossom season is a celebration of the end of the long winter and the coming of summer. Maruyama Park also offers a forested area and many great walking trails for joggers and those wishing a little fresh air. Piano concerts are sometimes held in the open during the summer
Kurumayama-Kogen in Nagano is a mountain (1,550-1925m) resort park that is self-contained with sports facilities, accommodation, ski lifts, nature hiking trails (8 or more), fishing, etc. 3 hr-drive from Tokyo on the Chuo highway.
Jyonobi Mura, Takayanagi, Niigata prefecture. The park has several features. There is Children’s playground, bicycle track, craft area, hiking trails, camping facilities and even an onsen make this park worth visiting. Basketball hoops, stilts and unicycles for use for free. (Note: Takayanagi village has a famous and colorful celebration called the Fox’s Wedding Festival. Access: A 25 min. drive from the Kashiwazaki IC on the Hokuriku expressway. After the toll gate follow the sign toward Tokamachi/Takayanagi. Follow the signs on Jyonobi mura all along the way.
Akasaka Yama Koen, Kashiwazaki, Niigata http://www.asahi-net.or.jp/~ja8i-brtl/outings.html#akasaka visit he lovely garden with its artificial waterfall, stroll by the stream, and up to the first hill to a picnic and park (with slides and swings) area. Beyond the first hill, there is a larger playground, a planetarium and the Kashiwazaki City Museum. Access: Route 8 in Kashiwazaki City. (Enjoy Japanese tea afterward in the Tea Ceremony Museum adjacent to the park.)
Ikoi-no-mori Park, Fukushima 5.4 hectares of natural parkland that has nature walking trails, a slide and field athletic courses.
Koriyama Ryokusui-en, Fukushima prefecture. The garden offers 100 sq. kilometers of nature for forest walks, bird-watching, camping, barbecue, splashing in the Gohyaku River and rolling around on the lawn. You can also sample edible wild plants, akahara fish temupra and salted broiled trout at the rest house. Access: 15 minute drive from Koriyama I.C. Phone: 02… Koriyama Rainbow Flower Park, Fukushima prefecture. A 20 sq. km park famed for iris viewing. Phone: 0248-73-0051 Access: 40 minute drive by car from Koriyama Minami I.C.
Tanbara Rose Garden in Ehime has 6 hectares of roses grown using a Dutch technique but uniquely improved here. Eleven kinds of roses in many colors bloom marvelously. 430 Tanouwagata, Tanbara-cho, Saijo City Phone: 0898-68-3375
Tanbara Park, Saijo, Ehime spreads from Mt. Ofudeyama commanding a panoramic view of the open sea of Hiuchinada to the ruins of Mimigane Castle. There are many facilities including a multipurpose open space, tennis courts, Mimigane Fort Play Yard, and trails. This is an enjoyable place for both the young and the elderly. Kumyoji, Tanbara-cho, Saijo City
Siebold Memorial Museum, Nagasaki prefecture. This is a memorial museum of Philipp Franz von Siebold(1796-1866) (English & Japanese) the German physician who was one of the first Europeans to study Japan in depth. Paved the way for later research and modern science, he conducted research not only on medicine but also on botany and zoology – many of the botanical species are still named after him.
Kema Sakuranomiya Koen Osaka This is one of Osaka’s best sakura hanami spots, with the many unusual varieties of sakura that cannot be seen elsewhere. Access: near JR Sakuranomiya Station
Nagai Koen in Southern Osaka has a botanical garden, a natural history museum and a sports stadium where the J-League soccer team Cerezo Osaka plays its home games.
Nagasaki‘s Nature Parks and Trails, See this guide for detailed info.
Tsurumi Ryokuchi-koen and the Sakuya Konohana-kan in Tsurumi-ku, Osaka offer a collection of more than 2,600 species and 15,000 specimens from all over the world in its gigantic greenhouse. There are tropical water plants, arctic flowers, insectivorous plants. It has well-landscaped gardens and many varieties of flower beds and is said to be one of the best-designed and loveliest botanical parks in Japan. Location: 2-163 Ryokuchi-Koen, Tsurumi-ku Phone: 06-6912-0055 Access: 10 mins walk from Tsurumi-Ryokuchi Station on the Nagahori Tsurumi-Ryokuchi subway line
Maruyama Park, http://www.ryokan-yachiyo.com/ryokan-kyototrip/ryokan-travel-maruyamapark-e.html is the main center for cherry blossom viewing in Kyoto, and can get extremely crowded at that time of year. The park’s star attraction is a weeping cherry tree (shidarezakura). Main entrance to the park is through Yasaka Shrine. Access: By bus from Kyoto Station in about 20 minutes. Take number 100 and 206 and get off at Gion bus stop.
Shimin Shikinomori (Shimin Citizen’s Forest aka Komaki City Park) Komaki city, Nagoya that includes a Forest of Insects, Citizen’s Forest and Adventure Park. The website is in English.
**Southeast Botanical Gardens, Okinawa. Renowned for being Okinawa’s most beautiful tropical gardens, the other attractions include its butterfly garden and bug gallery, petting zoo, kaleidoscope workshop and many more. Access: Drive towards Kadena Gate 3 from Kadena Gate 2 and turn right towards Chibana Housing as soon as the Kadena Gate 3 is on your left, drive on straight as the Gardens are just up ahead. See this review.
Okinawa Prefecture All-Sports Athletic Park, recognized as the sports facility for all major sports competitions in Okinawa, houses a recreation dome, indoor swimming pool, biking track and others. There is also a lake with pedal boats to enjoy, athletic equipment designed for children and a walking path in the park for the whole family to enjoy. http://www.hotelnewcentury.co.jp/location/index_e.html
Hana Park Fiore-kobuchisawa, Yamanashi prefecture A park in Kiyosato, Chuo area with views of Mt Fuji, the southern alps and Mt Yatsugatake. 16 ha featuring 200,000 tulips and 70,000 Casa Blanca lilies in season. Visit the Kids Place and Konchu Museum (Bug museum) as well. Phone: 0551-36-6611
Kanaz Forest of Creation in Fukui prefecture. As the name suggests, this is no ordinary park but one designed to showcase the creativity and works of artists and ateliers. There is a art museum core and a garden around a lake. The modernist garden is a beautiful setting to explore on its own. (Japanese)
Ritsurin Kouen and Kotohiki Kouen, Takamatsu city, Kagawa prefecture more here
In Gunma prefecture:
Tambara Lavender Park, Gunma. The largest lavender fields in the Kanto region. Location: Tanbara Kogen, Numata city, Gunma Phone: 0278-23-9311 . Access: Take train for Minakami via JR Joetsu line at Ueno stn towards Takasaki, Gunma and get off at Numata stn. Then take a taxi to the park. The park is a 2 hr-drive to get to via the Kan’etsu Jidoushado Highway. Photos of the park here and here. Note that the area in the Tanbara Marshland – often referred to as “Small Oze” where various wild flowers bloom throughout the season – is a great place for hiking. Tanbara Highlands has the largest beech forest in the Kanto area and is located on the north tip of Numata City, Gunma Prefecture. On the west side of Mount Hotaka (2158 meters high above sea level) rage, and Mount Kanomata (1637 meters) and Mount Amagahage (1466 meters) also surround the city. The city itself in the woods, spreading out on the slope of a volcanic mountain range, between 1000 to 1600 meters.
Onioshidashi En Gunma prefecture. Phone: 0279-86-4141 Many picnic spots in this park with natural woods, a deer park, seasonal flower beds.
*Yakushi Park, Yakushi-machi, Yamagata prefecture. Features children’s playground, woods, fountain, ponds and cherry blossom-viewing. Access: 15 minutes by bus from Yamagata station.
Ikoi Forest, Yazawa, Sagae City. The park has a pond, house in the woods, athletic field and camping facilities. Access: 15 minutes’ drive from Sagae Station; and 20 minutes’ drive from Sagae I.C.
Jionji Nature Park, Jionji, Sagae City, Yamagata prefecture. Visit it for the Hizendate observatory and over 90 acres of hiking trails. Access: 15 min. drive from Sagae Station; 20 min. drive from Sagae I.C.
Yamanashi Flower Center in Yamanashi. is known for its spectacular displays of flowers, particularly tulips . (Website in Japanese)
Yamanashi Kenritsu Yatsugatake Center Fureai Yatsugatake Alpine garden where hikes through woodchip trails and panoramic alpine views are to be had. Trails lead through mountain vegetation such as yama-tsutsuji (mountain azaleas) and karamatsu pines. Phone: 05… for access and info.
Yoro Park in Gifu Its attractions are reviewed here.
Ikenodaira-Shirakabako Family Land, Shinshu, part of the Shirakaba Resort, Aichi prefecture, has 200,000 lilies on display during July to August. There is a Kabutomushi-kuwagata World, a beetle park for kids as well.
*Ishikawa Arboretum Managed by the Ishikawa Forest Experiment Station, the arboretum contains a flower tree grove, coniferous grove, symbolic tree grove, a deciduous broad-leaved tree collection, an evergreen broad-leaved tree grove, a minor products grove, cherry (1,000 trees/150 species) & camellia tree (850 trees / 140 species) grove, and a Japanese garden. 15,000 trees / 800 species represented here. There is a forestry museum as well. Access info here Visit the website for the picturesque scenes of sakura and snow-clad Japanese garden.
Inariyama Park, Saitama An expansive wooded park with large grassy spaces sort of park good for outdoor games such as soccer. Access: Take the Seibu Ikebukuro line to Inariyama Koen Station(about 50 minutes from Ikebukuro).