Kichijoji- Inokashira Park

sarah straus inokashira parkInokashira Park is famous for its cherry blossoms and I can see why!  The cherry trees arch high over walk ways around a long, narrow lake and reach out over the water.  However, this is a great place to go any time of year, no need to wait for spring!  Plenty to do here with or without kids.  If you are with older children or with no kids you’ll likely enjoy the shopping and restaurants found near Kichijoji station or in the park.  Couple that with a stroll through the park grounds, to see the shrine and take a row boat out into the lake for a lovely day.  This place is great for young children too!  With our young ones we especially enjoyed taking the swan boat out into the lake and seeing the koi up close (¥700).  They are huge – like little sea monsters and they come begging for crumbs.  They will come right up to you in the boats.  They have signs though about not feeding birds.  There is also a two part zoo – with a smaller part that starts adjacent to the swan boats and a larger part across a pedestrian bridge.   One price pays for both zoos and they are both fun.  The smaller section next to the lake houses birds and a small aquarium.  Inside the aquarium kids are invited to feed and pet some fish in a low, open top fish tank.  Quite the thrill!  The larger zoo has lovely grounds with large trees and places to eat under kiosks and at picnic tables.  In addition to the animals there is a small amusement park designed for little kids in the back, an intriguing sculpture garden and museum with work by Seibo Kitamura, and two playgrounds.  Don’t miss the chance to walk into the squirrel enclosure near the monkeys towards the back of the zoo.  It looks like an aviary, but walk in and see it is filled with active squirrels who run back and forth across the path, play and eat all around.  The park grounds are free while the zoo costs ¥400/adults and ¥150/ages 13-15, kids free.  Zoo hours 9:30am-5pm, closed Mondays and Dec 29-Jan 1.  Phone: 0422-46-1100.  GPS to closest parking lot: 35.699521, 139.570772.  Click here for more on Kichijoji.

sarah straus inokashira parkTRAIN DIRECTIONS: Take the Ome line to Tachikawa. Transfer to a Tokyo bound train (track 4 or 5) and get off at Kichijoji. Exit through the Park Exit and walk past the Pachinko Shops. In less than a minute, you will come upon Inokashira-Dori, dominated by the department store Marui (OIOI). Take the road to the right of the store into the park.
DRIVING DIRECTIONS: While it is a straight shot roughly 20 kilometers down Route 7 to get to Kichijoji it is stoplight traffic the whole way.  On a busy Saturday morning it took us over 1.5 hours to reach the park.  In this case, the train may be faster.  To drive, however, exit the East Gate, turning right.  Take an immediate left at the light and go straight to the T intersection.  Turn right at the T and continue straight to the train tracks.  Go under the tracks and turn left onto Route 7.   Follow this road for a long time until it becomes a one-way street and you cannot proceed. At this point, turn left; cross the canal and make an immediate right. You will still be on Route 7 aka Itsukaichi Kaido. After six lights, you will pass the entrance to Koganei Park on the left. As you continue, you will pass a CASA restaurant, a McDonalds and a Royal Host. Route 7 will take one more turn at a large intersection.  Keep to the left as you go through. Get into the right lane immediately after the intersection. Go to the second light and turn right. (basically stay on Route 7).  After you pass a golf driving range on the left (it has a big green net around it), go to the 14th light and turn right. Go through two lights and under a train bridge. At the next light, turn left. At the very next light you will come to a “T” intersection. The parking lot for the park is located here—to enter turn left and then right into the lot (35.699521, 139.570772). The fee for parking is ¥400 an hour, which can add up quickly. The zoo, rides, and picnic area are located down this same street to the left. The lake, shrine, aviary and aquarium are to the right. Hours: The park is always open to the public; the zoo and aquarium are open Tuesday through Sunday 9:30am-5pm.  Note: I’d recommend taking your GPS and don’t miss the right hand turn off of Route 7 towards the park.  I missed it and got stuck driving in the downtown shopping area around Kitchijoji station and it is a traffic mess down there.  There is no way to drive to the park from that area and you’ll have to back track out of the shopping area until you can turn toward the park.   See two maps below: one of just the park grounds with the park lot marked to give you a sense of where the train station is compared to parking, the lake and even the Ghibli Museum is marked if you click “view larger map”.  The second gives directions to the park from Yokota.  Donna Anson, Cheryl McNabb, 1997, updated and photos Sarah Straus, June 2013.


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