Though the last petals of sakura have fallen, spring continues to bloom throughout Japan. And one of the best places to enjoy Tokyo’s cornucopia of floral offerings is at Showa Kinen Park, in the West Tokyo neighborhood of Tachikawa. Opened in 1983 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Emperor Showa, the park showcases seasonal flower fields, 11 kilometers of walking trails, and a range of outdoor pursuits. Even in the busy metropolis of Tokyo, it’s easy to find your own haven at Showa.
English map in hand, it’s still easy to get lost aimlessly wandering around the immense grounds. Most visitors head directly for the flower fields, which envelop the lakes and walkways in rainbow hues. The Spring Flower Festival, celebrated this year until May 22, is the optimal period to view the flowers: clusters of tulips, orange poppies, and wild field mustard attract shutterbugs of all ages.
If you’re in need of a recharge, relax in the large open field dotted with perfectly symmetrical keyaki (elm trees), where families picnic, fly kites, and blow bubbles. And if crowds aren’t your thing, then disappear into a quiet pocket of the park to marvel at the mosaic-tiled structures and artistic landscaping. You may even stumble across amateur photographers and their cosplaying models.
The park appeals to more than just flower enthusiasts or those longing for solitude. It’s one of the few places in Tokyo that hosts a frisbee disc golf course—consisting of nine holes—in their forested glory (¥210 disc rental). However, during the flower season, the course is closed to protect the delicate petals.
Another feature of the park is its large barbecue area. Interested parties can reserve a spot, rent equipment, and even purchase beer/meat sets through the park’s website. Invite a bunch of friends to celebrate Golden Week, Cinco de Mayo, or just see in the start of warmer weather with mirth.
The list of fun options at Showa is overwhelming; to name a but few: rent a bike or unicycle (¥410); play futsal (¥210/two hours), horseshoes (¥100/hour), or croquet (¥210/two hours); or paddle around in a boat (¥700). Kids will delight in the park train (¥310/ ¥150 for children), massive bouncing dome, or the Rainbow Pool (from mid-July on). Even dogs are more than welcome to come along; endless walks and a dedicated dog run await.
Showa Kinen Park offers a beautiful day escape, coupled with activities suited for every palette. Even if the weather turns sour, there are indoor attractions to explore, including a Japanese teahouse and historical museum. Plus, of course, showers lead to prettier flowers!
3173 Midoricho, Tachikawa-shi. Open 9:30am-5pm daily (hours may differ on hols). Nearest station: Nishi-Tachikawa. Visit www.showakinen-koen.jp/html/english/ for updates, special events, and additional rental information.