It is quite possible to live your whole life in metropolitan areas of Japan, to never see past the concrete jungle that surrounds you, and to never know that 66% of Japan is still covered in trees. So if you have a yearning to rollick with your toddler on some patch of green, or to take your kids for a breather out to some green lung this summer…try our GUIDE TO A PATCH OF GREEN in two parts, the first part below gives Tokyo locations of parks and green spaces, the second part to follow covers the rest of Japan.
***Kokuei Showa Kinen Park (or Showa Kokuritsu Kinen Koen), Tachikawa. Very large park that will take all day to explore. A park that offers stream-splashing, cycling, a Japanese garden and tea-house, a sunken outdoor theater and maze for a game of pirates. There’s also a Hobby House (craft) and sports facilities. Sometimes a bouncy castle is set up and the park is famous for seasonal flower shows and its cherry trees. Access: Closest station Nishi Tachikawa Station (on the JR Ome Line) or one stop from Tachikawa Station (JR Chuo Line) For a review of the park’s facilities, see here.
*** Mizumoto Park This is the only park in the metropolitan area dedicated to relaxing waterside scenery. Great for kids on account of the athletics station and obstacle course; water features, bird-watching area, craft activities and of course lots of flowering trees and shrubs within the 700,000m sq meter grounds。 Places of particular interest are: Mizumoto Koaidame (Tsuri Senkyo), a fishing spot; Shibarare Jizo (Bound guardian deity of children), an unusual jizo statue commemorating the just judgments of the famous official, Ooka Echizen (the Shibarare Jizo is located at 2-28-25 Higashi-mizumoto); an iris garden, considered to be one of the most outstanding in Katsushika-ku on a par with the Horikiri Shobuen. The Japanese Iris Festival is held in June; and the Seseragi Pond where visitors can have fun playing in ankle-deep water. *There are also a grove of cherry trees and a poplar tree-lined street good for a stroll, a central plaza, and an Adventure Square. Mizumoto Park 5-chome and 8-chome Higashi Kanamachi, Katsushika-ku. Access: via Keisei or Chiyoda line, Kanamachi station. A 15-minute bus ride from the station. / 30-minute walk from Kanamachi Sta. via “Shibarare Jizo(Bound Guardian Deity of Children)” on the way./ 3-minute walk from Mizumoto-koen-mae stop on the Keisei Bus bound for Togasaki Soshajo from the South exit of Kanamachi Sta. on the JR Joban Line/3-minute walk from Mizumoto-koen-mae stop on the Keisei Bus bound for Obakawa Suimon from the North exit of Kanamachi Sta. on the JR Joban Line Phone:03-3607-8321
Yuyakekoyake-fureai-no-sato in Hachioji, Tokyo is a large satoyama park where citizens – families and children can volunteer their help in maintaining the paddy fields. This spot is known for its Christmas illuminations.
Koganei Park, Koganei city, Tokyo, is a large park located beside Kasai Rinkai Park. There are wide grassy areas, archery facilities, an all-year-round sledding hill where you can rent the sleds. You can find ume (plum), wisteria, cherry trees and tulips that make for good hanami when in season. Access: Take the train to Hana Koganei station on the Seibu-Shinjuku line or to Musashi Koganei station on the JR Chuo line and walk for 15 minute walk from there. or take the Seibu Bus departing from [Musashi Koganei Sta.] of JR Chuo Line to Koganei Koen Nishiguchi mae Bus stop or the Kanto Bus departing from Musashi Koganei Sta. of JR Chuo Line, to the Koganei Koen Mae Bus stop. Parking facilities available. Phone: 042-385-5611 Read this review
***Inokashira Koen, Mitaka-city, Tokyo. What was once an important source of water supply for the town of Edo, Inokashira Pond has today turned into a beautiful park surrounded by the wood of trees. Access: 5-minute walk from Kichijoji(JR Chuo Line), 1-minute walk from Inokashira Koen(Keio Inokashira Line) Map info located right next to Ghibili Museum.
National Park for Nature Study 20 hectares of undisturbed tamed wilderness serves as a nature and conservation centre. Many guided tours and educational classes here but they are in Japanese. Access: 5-21-5 Shirogane-dai, Minato-ku, Tokyo. Walk for 10 minutes from Meguro Station on the JR Yamanote Line.
Kiba Shinsui Park Koto ward, Tokyo was formerly a timber town, redeveloped into forest park. This park has two blocks. In the north block, they have two large squares for various sports and events together with 6 tennis courts. In the south block, they have a large grass, barbecue area, an athletics field and a botanic garden. The Tokyo Modern Museum locates in the north of the park where you can enjoy modern arts of Japan Good for the waterpark — water starts 1 July and is shut off 31 August. CLOSED on Mondays. 3-8 Kiba, Koto-ku, Tokyo 10:00 – 16:00 Nice photos at JWK website Access: 5 minutes walk from [Kiba Sta.] of Tokyo-metro Tozai Line,15 minutes walk from [Kiyosumi Shirakawa Sta.] of Toei Subway Oedo Line and Tokyo-metro Hanzoumon Line,15 minutes walk from [Kikukawa Sta.] of Toei Subway Sinjyuku Line, Parking facilities available. See TWK’s writeup
Kinuta Park, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo. A green lung for the Tokyo area, the park serves as a family park with lawns and athletics facilities. Access: Kinuta koen 1-1, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo 157-0075) See access and map info
Nogawa Park Abundant green and open spaces that beckon soccer, frisbee throwing, kite flying and running around. Several playgrounds here as well. In Mitaka-shi, Tokyo, a 15 minute walk from Tama Bochimae station, JR Tamagawa line. Free entrance. Nature Observation Center(9:30am-4:30pm, Closed: Mondays and Dec. 29-Jan.3), Bird Observation shelter, Shop. Park information:0422-31-6457 Fax: 0422-31-7471
Nozuta Park, Machida City. A multi-purpose park, with natural vegetation of the Tama Hills. This park has a tack and field competition ground, grass square and tropical botanical gardens. There are also facilities for tea ceremonies. Onoji Yashiki (the Old Mansion) is located in a beautiful formal garden. Access: 2035 Noduta-machi Phone: 042-736-3131 Take bus from bus stop no. 11 at the Machida Bus Center, or board the Nozuta Shako bus at Machida Station (near POP Building) and get off at Nozuta Shako. Walk 10 minutes to the park. Another way is to take the Nozuta Shako bus from Tsurukawa Station (bus stop) and to get off at Nozuta Shako.
Kiyose Seseragi Brook Park This 500m-long-park takes advantage of the old Karabori River, where you can enjoy various aspects of it. The upper portion of the river becomes a circulating water park zone which you can explore, and the lower part of the river becomes an ecological preservation zone. By the lowest part of the stream, which you can reach via a board walk, a marvelous viewing tower is set up. You also can enjoy the Kiyose Katakuri Festivalh in the adjacent Kiyose Nakazato Greenery Preservation Area where you can observe wild katakuri flowers every spring. 2-1471 Nakazato, Kiyose-shi Access: 7-minute bus ride from Kiyose sta. on the Seibu Ikebukuro Line/5-minute walk from Nakazato Danchi sta. or Hatagawara station/20-minute walk from Akitsu sta. on the Seibu Ikebukuro Line
Rinshino-mori-koen, Shimo-meguro, Meguro, Tokyo. Phone: 03-3792-3800 Wooded park with pond well-suited to kids’ play. The park started as the Meguro Experimental Nursery in 1900, the name was subsequently changed to the Forestry Research Station and being used until 1978. This Station was moved to Tsukuba Research City and the parkland was opened to the public as Rinshi No Mori Park in 1989 after some overhauls. This park has many giant trees of over 100 years old. Access: 10 minutes walk from Musashi Koyama Stn of Tokyu Meguro Line,1 minute walk from Rinshinomori Iriguchi Bus Stop on Tokyu Bus for Gotanda Stn departing from Shibuya Stn of JR Yamanote Line
Ryonan Park, Nagafusacho, Hachioji city, Tokyo. This park is situated along the Minami-Asakawa River. It was the cycle racing ground of the Tokyo Olympics, and opened to the public as a park just after the Olympics. It is divided into two zones, the open space with baseball grounds and children’s park on the other side of the river.
Sagae Park, Nagaoka, Sagae City. Visited for its azalea gardens, forestry experimental station and herb garden and sports facilities (stadium). Access: 20 minutes’ walk from Sagae Station. 10 minutes’ drive from Sagae I.C.
Musashino Park Grassy fields and forests along Nogawa River. This park is a part of vast green land over Musashino hills in combination with Sengenyama park, Tama cemetery and Nogawa park. Access: Maehara-cho, Koganei City. Tokyo. In front of [Tamacho Bus Stop] on Keio Bus for [Tamareien] or [Tamacho] departing from [Musashi-koganei Sta.] of JR Chuo Line. In front of [Musashinokoen Bus Stop] on Keio Bus for [Chofu Sta.] departing from [Musashi-koganei Sta.] of JR Chuo Line, Parking facilities available.
Musashi-Kokubunji Park, Izumi-cho, Kokubunji city, Tokyo Access: 7 minutes walk from [Nishi-kokubunji Sta.] of JR Chuo Line and JR Musashino Line,10 minutes walk from [Kokubunji Sta.] of JR Chuo Line, Seibu Tamako Line and Seibu Kokubunji Line, Parking facilities available This park is a new one opened to the public in 2002. This area is a part of designated zone of buried cultural property, and a lot of ancient clay pots and arrowheads has been found around there. In the northern part of it, there is a large round-shaped grass of which diameter is 160M. This grass square is expected to be an evacuate shelter in case of large disasters. In the south, there are copses and forests full of wild birds. Adjacent to the park, there is a ruin of “Musashi-kokubunji”, a very old temple, which is designated as a national historic site.
*Koishikawa Botanic Garden, Botanical Gardens of Tokyo University. Excellent collection of plants in a pleasing arrangement with ponds, woods, greenhouses and beds. Scientific labels on the plants make for easy study. Go especially for the ume blossoms in March and the avenue of maples in November. Access: 3-7-1 Hakusan, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo. A 15-minute walk from Myogadani Subway Station on the Marunouchi line.
Komazawa Park, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo. This park is dominated by the huge gymnasium which was once used for the Tokyo Olympics. It mostly consists of a stroll on a elliptical concrete but tree-lined path that surrounds the gym. Access: Komazawa Koen 1-1, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo 154-0013. From Shibuya on the JR Line, get to the Komazawa koen bus stop via Tokyu bus bound for Denenchofu or from Ebisu on the JR Line take the Tokyu bus bound for Yoga and then walk for 15 minutes walk from Komazawa daigaku bus stop. Map info is available.
Musashinomori, Park, Asahimachi, Fuchu Access: 5 minutes walk from [Tama Sta.] of Seibu Tamagawa Line, Parking facilities available Large grass square, a big pond and a hill are features of this park
Ueno Park, Tokyo. You can come here for a stroll and for sakura-viewing, but most people come here for the collection of museums that are here, read a review of those.
***Serigaya Park. Access: 5-1679 Haramachida. From Machida Station, walk for 10 minutes to reach the park. A stream for crayfishing, lots of green, sculptures, pools for kids to splash around in, a watery flower garden with rabbit-ear irises, and a variety of playground equipment. The Machida City Museum of Graphic Arts is located on one side of the park.
***Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden. Considered to be one of the most important of the Meiji era gardens and it is a blending of three styles: French Formal, English Landscape and Japanese Traditional. Intended as an imperial garden, it was redesigned by a French professor of horticulture and opened to the public after WWII. 58.3 hectares of land with 20,000 trees including tulip trees, planes, Himalayan cedars and bald cypresses. This is a good place to watch the annual Chrysanthemum Exhibition. Access: 3 minute walk from Shinjuku-gyoen-mae subway station on the Marunouchi Line or the Sendagaya Station on the JR Sobu Line, turn right outside the station, go under the railway line and then make a left turn. (website in English, Japanese)
Tayake-koyakei-fureai-no-sato, Tokyo. A satoyama park where citizens, families, children can volunteer to help maintain the paddies. Phone:042-652-3072
Tsuruma Park. Noted for its rich forest cover and large grassy sports ground open to the public from Wednesday and the third Sunday of the month. Access: 3-1-1 Tsuruma From Minami Machida Station, a 3 minute-walk there.
***Yakushi-ike Koen, Nozuta-machi, Machida-city Yakushi-Ike Park is considered among the 100 most lovely sights of Tokyo. This quiet Japanese style park (free admission) surrounds a central pond and contains 250 plum trees, 2,500 Japanese irises, a camellia garden, a lotus paddy, an old private house from the Edo era, the Machida City Photo salon, the Yakushi tea house, and a famous statue dedicated to democracy. A Japanese landscape garden that is famed for its most enormous lotus pond that had been sown from lotus seeds more than 2,000 year-old (with the most enormous Oga lotus leaves) possibly the largest in Japan. It is also a great spot for hanami, with its 300 plum trees, others such as cherries, wisteria, irises and camellia. Inside the park is another garden called the Manyo Kusabana En Flower Garden that has a collection of more than 70 types of the flowers and wild plants mentioned in the Manyoshu (ancient collection of poems), some of which are endangered species. In addition, the garden cultivates 260 other varieties of wild plants. Other attractions include two old minka houses from the Edo period. 720 Nozuta-machi, Machida-shi. Access: From Machida Station (near POP Building ) take the bus bound for “Tsurukawa-eki”(via Honmachida) bus stop or bound for “Nozuta Shako” (via Honmachida). Get off at the “Yakushi-Ike” bus stop. Phone: 042-734-8527
Machida Dahlia Garden, Yamasaki-machi The largest dahlia Garden in Japan with 4,000 dahlias (500 varieties). The Garden is situated on a small hill in Yamasaki-machi. Access: 1213-1 Yamasaki-machi Phone: 042-722-0538 From Machida Station (near POP Building) , take the bus bound for Nozuta Shako via Honmachida, or the bus bound for Tsurukawa Station, and get off at Imaiyato. Or, from Tsurukawa Station take the bus for Machida Station via Honmachida, and get off at Imaiyato. Or, take the Yamasaki Danchi bus from Machida Bus Center, and get off at Kita Ichigo. Best viewed at the peak of summer – through August.
Machida Ebine Garden, Hon-machida. Attractions include about 100,000 calanthes, as well as lady-slippers, bagiboshi, and other wild plants. Access: 3132-1 Honmachida Phone:042-724-2163 Take the Fujinodai Danchi bus from Platform #1 of the Machida Bus Center, and get off at Fujinodai.
Machida Peony Garden, Minken no Mori, Machida city. Most famous for peony viewing which takes place from around the last week of April to the first week of May. 1,200 plants in all are featured in this garden. The 1.6 hectare garden is located at the north side of Yakushi-Ike Park, and is part of Minken no Mori, a park known for its oak forest. Access: Minken no Mori Park, 2274-1 Nozuta-machi Phone:042-736-4477From Machida Station (near POP Building) , take the bus bound for Tsurukawa Station via Honmachida, of take the Nozuta-Shako bus via Honmachida: get off at Yakushigaoka-mae. Walk for 7 minutes from there.
Shimizuzaka Park, Kita-ku, Tokyo. Access: Kita-ku, half way between Akabane Station and Jujo Station (west of the Saikyo line).
Utsubo Koen used as an airstrip by the kamikaze during World War II, is now better known for its summer roses and spring cherry blossoms. This park is located along the Zenpukuji River and there are 12 bridges in the park. The river flooded quite often in the past and considerable work on the river embankment was carried out from 1955, which made an artificial Wadabori Lake.King fishers have their habitats in this area which is very rare in a city life. Access: Get to the park which is located between Honmachi and Yodoyabashi stations via the Yotsubashi subway line.
Wadabori Park, Omiya, Suginami-ku Tokyo. Access: 15 minutes walk from [Nishieifuku Sta.] of Keio Inokashira Line, Parking facilities available.
Website: www.tokyo-parks.or.jp (English and Japanese)