Tokyo Public Parks – A Reference Guide


Tokyo Public Parks

Tokyo is one of the most populated and congested cities in the world.  However, all over the city of Tokyo there are a large number of great parks of all sizes that the people can enjoy. Most of the parks in Tokyo are free of charge, but there are a few that charge a small entrance fee. I think the Japanese people probably enjoy visiting the parks more than most peoples around the world. I think the reason for this is because of the size of most of the houses and apartments that the Japanese people live in are much smaller than their western counterparts. This combined with the fact that the Japanese people generally do not have guests over to visit their homes, and they do not have house parties.

So, the Japanese people and their families choose to meet with their friends at the parks. They will bring tarps and other ground covering and the people will sit on them with their shoes off and enjoy the day. They will spend most of the day at the park and listen to music, play sports, enjoy snacks or a meal, have a few drinks and just have a good time. The parks are very busy in Tokyo on the public holidays and weekends, especially in the spring and summer time. Here are a few of the best parks in Tokyo. 

Shinjuku Gyoen

The Shinjuku Gyoen is located a short walk from the Shinjuku station. This is the most beautiful park in Tokyo and might be one of the most picturesque parks in the world. The park was rebuilt after World War II and reopened in 1949 as a public park. This park is a collection of three different gardens, a Japanese landscaped garden, a French landscaped garden and an English landscaped garden. There is also a large greenhouse that contains many tropical and subtropical plants and flowers. Shinjuku Gyoen features many wide-open lawns, several ponds, forested areas, and several structures including a restaurant, an information center and an art gallery. For those who love the cherry blossom tress, this park has numerous early and late blooming cherry blossom trees, which provide an extended cherry blossom-viewing season that occurs from around the middle of March until well into April. The park is at its best during the spring and fall seasons when trees and plants are blooming and changing colors. Location: 11 Naitomachi, Shinjuku City, Tokyo Train Access: Shinjuku Station, 5 min walk Google Maps

Yoyogi Park

The Yoyogi Park is one of Tokyo’s largest parks and it is just a few minutes walk from the Harajuku Station and the Meiji Shrine. The Yoyogi Park has large open area lawns, ponds and forested areas. This is the most popular park in Tokyo for Gaijins to visit, and it is also very popular with the local Japanese people. Inside the Yoyogi Park, on weekends and holidays you can find many kinds of live acts such as music bands, jugglers, dancers and others. It is a great place for jogging, picnicking or partying and other outdoor activities. The Yoyogi Park is also a popular cherry blossom trees viewing spot in spring, and it is known for its large Ginko tree forest, which turns intensely golden in the fall.

The south side of Yoyogi Park has an event plaza and an open-air stage that hosts many of Tokyo’s larger festivals, including the annual Earth Day, Thai Festival, One Love Jamaica and many other cultural festivals that occur almost every weekend from the spring until the fall. These events are very popular and they are often accompanied by a large number of food trucks, food stalls and vendors selling a variety of goods. Usually the festivals go on for the whole weekend and they generally start around noon and last until 7-8pm at night. The north side of the park has a nice dog run in a small forest and greenery area where people can bring their dogs and let them roam free. The Yoyogi Park is one of the most popular parks in Tokyo, which is enjoyed by everybody. Location: 2-1 Yoyogikamizonocho, Shibuya City, Tokyo Train Access: Harajuku Station, 3 min walk Google Maps

Hibiya Park

The Hibiya Park is located in central Tokyo next to the Hibiya station. It is a large park that is about forty acres, and it has around 3,100 trees. It is a popular place in the fall to see the many colors of the changing tree leaves. There are over fifty types of different kinds of Japanese tree’s in the Hibiya Park that have been donated to the park by every prefecture of Japan. The dogwood trees in the park are a gift from the United States, that were received after Japan gave the gift of the cherry blossom trees to Washington D.C. that now line the Potomac River. The Hibiya Park is also home to Japan’s first western style flower gardens that are still maintained to this day. The flowers in the park are maintained and managed so that at least one variety of the flowers is in bloom, in each month of the year.

The Hibiya Park is filled with an interesting collection of statues from all over the world that have been donated to Japan, by foreign governments. There are four restaurants in the park that are mostly upscale dinning establishments, and several small snack kiosks. The park has two stages with permanent seating and the park is home to many big and small festivals throughout the year. The most notable festival is the annual Hibiya Park Oktoberfest that occurs in the middle of September

The Hibiya Park is located directly next to the neighborhood that houses Japan’s federal government. So, it’s no surprise that the Hibiya Park has a long history of protests, and it is known locally as the “Protest Park”. The Hibiya Park is located close to the Ginza shopping district and is a great place to visit if in the area. Location: 1-6 Hibiyakoen, Chiyoda City, Tokyo Train Access: Hibiya Station, 3 min walk Google Maps

Komazawa Olympic Park

The Komazawa Olympic Park is a very large park that was constructed in 1964 for the summer Olympic games. The park is located in western Tokyo about a fifteen-minute walk from the Komazawa-Daigaku station. It was opened to the public after the Olympics as a park, and today it is known as a sports park that blends forests and greenery with several types of athletic facilities. The Komazawa Olympic Park is like a super park. The park fulfills its role as a sports park by playing host to soccer, athletics, baseball, tennis, swimming and cycling events. There are many sporting facilities, cycling and jogging routes around the park, a dog run area, a skateboard park, and an assortment of other entertainment options for the general public. The Komazawa Olympic Park is also the home to many kinds of events throughout the year, such as flea markets, fairs, and various kinds of themed events.

The Komazawa Olympic Park can be enjoyed by people of all ages and is especially popular with families with children. As, there are three separate areas of the park that have been created for kids. The Pig, Squirrel and Horse parks, and each one of these small parks have unique areas that are specifically made for children to play at. There are picnic tables, bathroom facilities and all the usual children park staples such as swing sets, slides, sand pits, and various kinds of other children play objects. There are many types of rental children bicycles available, and in the summertime from the middle of July to the end of August there is a water play area that is a family favorite. The Komazawa Olympic Park is a really nice park and its numerous buildings and structures that were built for the Olympics in the early 1960s, gives the park a feeling of stepping back in time. Location: 1-1 Komazawakoen, Setagaya City, Tokyo Train Access: Komazawa Daigaku Station, 10 min walk Google Maps

Ueno Park

The Ueno Park is located next to the Ueno Station in northeast Tokyo. The Ueno Park is the oldest, largest and one of the most popular parks in the city. Inside the park there are temples, shrines, pagodas, a small event amphitheater and the International Library of Children’s Literature. The large Shinobazu pond located in the south of the park has been subdivided into the boat, cormorant and lotus ponds. The parks signature temple on the man-made island in the middle of the pond is the Benten-do Temple. It’s dedicated to the goddess of prosperity and the arts and this particular building dates back to 1958. The 17th century original was destroyed in the World War II air raids of 1945.

The Ueno Park is famous for housing some of Japan’s finest museums including the Tokyo National Museum, the National Museum for Western Art, the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum and the National Science Museum to name just a few. The park is also home to the Ueno Zoo, and Japan’s first zoological garden. The park has a lot of greenery with large areas of shrubs, nearly 9,000 trees that come in many varieties, including around 1.200 cherry blossom trees that line the parks central pathway and fill the park. In the springtime, the Ueno Park is one of the most popular and lively parks in Tokyo to visit during the cherry blossom season. The park also has a large pond filled with lotus plants that are stunning when they are blooming in the summer months.

Unfortunately, there are many homeless people who make the Ueno Park their home and they can be found among the park’s tree lines and wooded areas. The homeless camps are fairly large, with an internal structure, culture, and support system. The long-term shelters are typically constructed of cardboard and covered with blue tarps. It’s not legal to live at the park and the police do raid the place occasionally. However, it seems that the homeless population have now been accepted, and they are now a part of the parks environment. Location: Ueno Park Train Access: Ueno Station, 3 min walk Google Maps

Inokashira Park

The Inokashira Park is located in the western part of Tokyo and is only a few minutes walk from the Kichijoji station. This is a very popular park and it can be very busy especially on weekends, holidays and for special events. The Inokashira Park basically revolves around a large pond centered in the middle of the park that is surrounded by many kinds of trees and vegetation. The Inokashira Park has a petting zoo, small aquarium, funny shaped rental boats, children playground facilities, and an event stage. On the weekends or holidays the park is populated with many kinds of vendors, musicians, artists and street performers. On the southwest end of Inokashira Park is the Ghibli Museum, a popular destination dedicated to the animated productions of Studio Ghibli. The west side of the park has a large garden where many different kinds of flowers can be seen.

The Inokashira Park is filled with cherry blossom trees. At the beginning of springtime in late March when the cherry blossom trees start to bloom, and at nighttime the cherry blossom trees look especially spectacular as they hang over the pond and they are lit up in various colored illuminations. This time of the year the entire park is packed with people and it is very crowded. In the fall season the Inokashira Park is very scenic, as the tree leaves in the park change color, and the fallen leaves cover the walking paths around the park. Location: Inokashira Park Train Access: Kichijoji Station, 6 min walk Google Maps

Sumida Park

The Sumida Park is near the Asakusa station in eastern Tokyo. The park is located along the Sumida River that flows through Tokyo. The Sumida Park offers a welcoming retreat and is a great place to visit to relax and escape the crowds after sightseeing in the nearby Asakusa Shrine, Sensoji Temple and the surrounding shopping streets. Flanking both sides of the Sumida River are around 1,000 cherry blossom trees lining both banks of the river. The Sumida Park is very popular at the beginning of spring when the cherry blossom trees burst into the blooming mode. This park is also a great place to view the largest fireworks show in Tokyo, the Sumida fireworks, on the last weekend in July. Location: Sumida Park Train Access: Asakusa Station, 8 min walk Google Maps


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