Hanging Out at Yoyogi Park

To drink in the beauty of nature, enjoy it with friends and family, or visit a significant location in Japanese history, then Yoyogi Park (Yoyogi Koen) in Shibuya, Tokyo, may be just the place to go. Next to the Meiji Jingu Shrine, the park is home to over 15,000 trees. These include gingko trees that turn gold in autumn and cherry (sakura) trees that blossom during hanami season in a profusion of orange, pink, and white.

Yoyogi Park is a vast and idyllic space to have a picnic, bike, exercise, or simply kick back and relax. Yoyogi Park Cycling Center rents out bicycles for a modest fee. Dog lovers and owners may find the park heavenly, for not only is it scenic but it also has a dog run, a fenced area where man’s best friends can freely frolic without a leash.

Yoyogi Park during hanami season.| kalleboo

Yoyogi Park witnessed some significant events in the past. It was the location of the first powered aircraft flight in Japan, on December 19, 1910 by Captain Yoshitoshi Tokugawa. The exact spot—the Airplane Cradle—is at the southwest corner of the park.  A monument there commemorates the event.

The park in autumn. | mrhayata

Yoyogi Park also served as a residential area for the U.S. military during their stay in Japan after the war.

For the 1965 Olympics, Yoyogi was used as an Olympic Village. Nearby is the Sample Garden, where trees from seeds brought in by Olympic athletes from around the world still flourish.

The Yoyogi National Gymnasium is also on the park grounds.  The stadium, designed by Kenzo Tange for the 1964 Olympics, is well-known for its suspension-roof design.  Originally, it housed the swimming and diving events and is now used for basketball, futsal, and ice hockey games.

Yoyogi National Gymnasium. | Richard Moross

The park is open from 5 am to 8 pm in the summer, and to 5 pm mid-October to April. It is open daily and admission is free.