Yoyogi Koen

HarajukuThe largest Open to the public park in Tokyo (Akasaka Park and the Imperial Palace having partly restricted access). Yoyogi Park lies between the Meiji Shrine grounds and the NHK Broadcasting Center.

Contrarily to others like Ueno or Shinjuku Gyoen, it has a much more luxuriant flora, and is the only one really like a forest rather than a park or gardens since Yoyogi Park has variety of landscape and places to sit and enjoy your time. A popular place for "Lovers" to go.

Yoyogi Koen (Yoyogi Park, in Japanese, park is koen) a vast expanse of trees and grass, is one of Tokyo's largest and pleasant city parks, featuring wide lawns, ponds and forested areas. It is a great place for jogging, picnicking and other outdoor activities. It is one of the largest parks in Tokyo, located adjacent to Harajuku Station and Meiji Shrine not far from Shibuya. Approximately 3-5 minute walk from Harajuku Station on the JR Yamanote Line. JR Harajuku Station is on the Yamanote Line which makes Yoyogi Park easy to reach from most parts of Tokyo. It is next to Meiji Shrine, so as a photographer you can easily make it a day at these very different (but close) areas. but, there are no pathways between the two as the forest there is a bird sanctuary. So, you must walk past the entrance to Meiji Shrine to actually enter the park.

Although Yoyogi Park has relatively few cherry trees compared to oter sites in Tokyo, it makes a niceh cherry blossom viewing spot in spring and in the fall it is a great place to see some really beautful ginko trees that turn golden. There are a reasonable number of cherry trees in Yoyogi so it is popular in the spring for blossom viewing. As well, the forests of Ginkgo and other deciduous trees make it popular in the fall for leaf viewing. There is a small rose garden near the south entrance to the park. Assuming the weather is nice (and sometimes even when it isn’t) there are plenty of people enjoying outdoor activites, sports, picnics, sunbathing, dancing or just relaxing. Furthermore, it is known for its ginko tree forest, which turns intensively golden in autumn.

Before becoming a city park in 1967, the area where Yoyogi Park is located today, was the site of the first successful powered aircraft flight in Japan, on December 19, 1910, by Captain Yoshitoshi Tokugawa, following which it became an army parade ground. During the Second World War occupation, it was the site of an American housing complex called Washington Heights, residence for U.S. officers and US military personnel. Yoyogi Park served as the site of the olympic village for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, and the distinctive Olympic buildings designed by Kenzo Tange are still nearby. The stadium remains one of Tokyo's most impressive landmarks. Tokyo is bidding to again hold the Summer Olympics in 2016 and Yoyogi Park is once again an important part of the bid. Recently, Tokyo governor, Ishihara, has backed building a 100,000 seat olympic stadium in the park as part of Tokyo's bid.

Located in Harajuku, Yoyogi Park is one of Japan's most active sites of counter youth culture. For more than 20 years, it has been the place that young people to hang out on Sunday and dismiss Japan staid business culture as irreverent. In return, the police periodically sweep through and attempt to clean up the "antisocial" aspects of the park. The park is one of the largest in Tokyo when combined with the adjacent Meiji Shrine and while it may not be the prettiest it sure is one of the most vibrant and colorful. It is a western style park with wide lawns, bike paths, forests, ponds and fountains.

If you want to know what the Japanese do on a Sunday afternoon, then head off to Yoyogi Park. The whole of Tokyo seems to descend on this wonderful park. Families come for a picnic, unsigned pop bands play inpromptu gigs, theatre groups practise their latest plays and people just hang out letting the world go by! Everything seems to happen in this one place! When I went there a year ago, I felt like I saw the real Tokyo - seeing the Japanese at play.

Today, the park is a popular hangout, especially on Sundays, when it is used as a gathering place for people to play music, practice martial arts, etc. The park
has a bike path, and bicycle rentals are available. As a consequence of Japan's long recession, there are several large, but surprisingly quiet and orderly, homeless camps around the park's periphery. These are somewhat like the Hoovervilles during the Great Depression in the USA. Foreign visitors once marveled at the exhibitionist Japanese rock-n-rollers here when the road through the park was closed off on Sundays, but that's been stopped.

Not a lot about the place is unusual; it's just a good place to get away from it all for a while and perhaps take a nap on the grass. A nice fountain with changing patterns punctuates the middle of the park, and there's a bicycle path for kids that features free rental up to junior high school age. Yoyogi Park is also a popular spot for jogging. Early in the morning, you may encounter a practicing saxophonist or drummer. They can be sure the empty park, at least, won't tell them to keep quiet or move house.

Another interesting thing about Yoyogi Park is that all types of people gather here. If you come on a weekend you will see people playing sports, juggling, playing instruments, dancing and anything else that can be done outside. One of the more unique groups of people is the interest group that is all about the 50s (or maybe 60s). I am not sure if these people dress (and style their hair) like this all the time and are stuck in a time warp or if it is just a weekend activity but you really should take a minute to watch this short video of them dancing.

Where can you find dozens of Japanese Elvis doing the twist? Guys dressed up as school girls playing live music? A man in a Fred Flintstone-like costume doing the salsa? A family of dogs wearing sunglasses? A painter selling his art in order to support his family? Or an illustrator and fairy tale writer giving out free copies of his work in hopes that one day he can make a living out of his hobby? Yoyogi Park, of course! .

While bands and other entertainment are banned from the park that doesn't stop them from setting up on the corner between Harajuku Station and Yoyogi Park. As well, the corridor south of Yoyogi Park to the NHK buildings is usually bustling with bands and street theatre. Cosplaying is a major part of the park's culture and every Sunday groups descend on the park. In turn, photographers descend on them in equal numbers.

This naturally wooded park adjoins the Meiji Shrine, and until 1996 was the venue for Tokyo's amateur rock and roll bands to show their stuff every Sunday. They have since moved to Omotesando, and Yoyogi Park has become quiet, and ideal for lovers and families who like to enjoy a tranquil Sunday afternoon with each other on the grass and strolling by tranquil ponds filled with koi (Japanese carp). Rental bicycles are available within the grounds during summer for JPY500/hour.

Opening date
Land area
Number of trees
Variety of plants

Nearest station
20 October 1967
540,529 m2
Tall trees : 15,382 / Shrubs : 92,689 / Lawn : 200,689 m2
Sawara cypress, Zelkova trees, Himalayan cedars, osmanthus,
oleanders, azaleas, gingkos, cherry trees, pines, konara oaks, etc.
Yoyogi Kamisonocho/Jinnan 2-chome, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
3min walk from Harajuku (JR line) or Yoyogi Koen (Chiyoda line),
6min walk from Yoyogi Hachiman (Odakyu line)

Best Information about Harajuku.

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