Tag Archives: parks

Showa Memorial Park & other Tachikawa parks

showa kinen sarah strausShowa Memorial Park (Showa Kinen Koen)
This is a massive, lovely park with bike and walking paths, a lake for boating, a formal Japanese garden, water parks (See “Rainbow Pool” below) and, in winter, an outdoor skating rink and Christmas light show. You could explore for days and still find treasures. (Not to be confused with the simple “Showa Park” in Tachikawa. See below.) Among the many treats for kids are trampoline nets, roller slides, dragon sculptures and misty maze, but the park is probably most famous for its bouncing dome, a huge, marshmallow-like playground. (Sadly, a sign says adults aren’t allowed.)  On windy days bring a kite to fly in the middle of the park.
Showa Kinen Tulips Sarah StrausThe park is especially lovely in spring, as a multitude of colorful flowers and blooming trees are a feast for the eyes. The cherry trees bloom in March/April and then the tulips come up.  The tulip fields go on and on and are truly amazing – not to be missed.  A wonderful water fountain greets you as you enter the park from the largest parking area at Tachikawa, so don’t forget to bring your camera. Also near several of the entrances are bicycle rental areas, but feel free to ride into the park with your own bike – there are several entrances to the park just for bikes in fact.  Bike rental is just a few hundred yen for 3 hours.  There are kids bikes, bikes with child-seats, and even tandem bikes for rent.  However, if you are very tall, renting a bike may not be a good option.  Bring your own picnic lunch or check out the small, but tasty restaurants and snack bars located near the lake and throughout the park. Dogs are allowed in most areas but must be on leash everywhere except the dog run. I’ve even seen people bring their pet cats and bunnies to the park.  Admission is ¥400 per adult and ¥80 per child. Annual passes for adults are ¥4000. With an annual pass they will give you a plastic card with your photo on it and expiration date.  Also with the annual pass you an get ¥100 off parking, which is normally ¥800.  Hours: Park opens at 9:30am. Closes at 4:30pm in winter, 5pm in summer, and 6pm summer weekends. Open every day but Dec. 31, Jan. 1 and the last Mon. and Tues. of February. Rachael Keyser-McClendon. Liz Ruskin updated directions 2011, Sarah Straus updated 2013, Photos by Sarah Straus 2011.

DSC_3957Japanese Garden
I think the Japanese Garden, located nearest the Sunagawa entrance, deserves its own section.  This is a gorgeous, formal Japanese garden with a lake in the middle, streams, and waterfalls.  There are three covered observation huts.  Turtles swim in the water and bask on rocks.  Don’t miss the bonsai japanese garden sarah strausdemonstration in the back of the garden – filled with the most amazing bonsai.  There is usually a man there working on one of the bonsai and it is so interesting to how he trims each bonsai with such care.  You can’t bring food into the garden, but you can drink tea there in a small tea house (in the photo above the tea house is the building on the right).  It costs ¥500 for tea and a sweet snack.  Come in November to enjoy the fall colors. – Sarah Straus, Oct 2013.

Sarah Straus Showa Kinen parkKomorebi Villiage
Located nearest the Sunagawa entrance, Komorebi Villiage is made to look like a farm on the Musashino Plain in the 1950’s and 60’s (ref: webpage).  Having passed by this area many times, we finally stopped in.  What a gem!  There are demonstration gardens, a large thatched roof farm house, a beautifully designed thatched roof storage house, and water wheel.  Volunteers place a kettle over a flame in the farm house and they are happy to talk about the village with visitors.  I’m looking forward to seeing this place in the spring!  Opens at 10am and has an earlier closing time than the rest of the park. – Sarah Straus, January, 2014.

TRAIN DIRECTIONS: From Fussa Station take the train towards Tokyo to Nishi-Tachikawa, about 15 minutes and ¥160 per person. Take the North Exit of the station and the park entrances is steps away.

DRIVING DIRECTIONS: There are three parking lots for Showa Kinen and additionally several bike/pedestrian entrances.  The closest parking lot to the East gate (about 2 miles away) is the Sunagawa parking area.  The next closest is the the Tachikawa parking lot, then the Nishi-Tachikawa parking lot. Parking costs ¥800. For all parking lots, turn right out the East Gate (0km). Turn left at the first light and drive until this road ends at the canal. Turn right, onto Route 59. At 2.2km you’ll pass under a set of railroad tracks.
Sunagawa Parking: .  Keep going straight after you go under the tracks. Drive until 2.8km. Here you’ll see a four-lane boulevard appear on the left. (It’s a “T” intersection, so the boulevard does not continue on the right.  It is at the fourth light after you go under the train tracks.) Turn left here. Drive until 4.2km and turn right into the Sunagawa parking lot for Showa Kinen Park. This lot is closer to the children’s forest and bouncing dome.  You can enter with your own bike and/or rent bikes at this entrance.  During the summer a shuttle will take you from this parking lot to Rainbow Pools.  GPS Coordinates to parking entrance: 35.72047, 139.39909.
showa playground sarah strausTachikawa Parking: Pass the Sunagawa entrance and keep going to the next opportunity to make a hard right hand turn.  Essentially you’ll be driving around the outside edge of the park.  This is a large boulevard with trees.  You will pass a fire station.  Look for the Tachikawa parking entrance on your right.  This the largest parking lot and the entrance near the large fountain.  During winter find the christmas lights show here.  You can rent bikes at this entrance and a shuttle will take you to Rainbow Pools from here during the summer.  GPS: 35.703842, 139.403413.
Nishi-Tachikawa Parking: Pass the Tachikawa entrance and keep going to the next opportunity to make a hard right.  You will just continue to drive around the outside edge of the park.  Go under the pedestrian bridge and turn right into the park area.  This parking lot is at the same entrance as the Nishi-Tachikawa train station.  This parking lot is very close to Rainbow Pools and to the lake where you can rent paddle boats.  No bikes at this entrance.  If you bring your bike, you’ll have to find one of the two bike entrances further down in either direction.  GPS: 35.704731, 139.392319.
sarah straus showa parkBICYCLE DIRECTIONS: Showa Memorial Park is a 25-minute bike ride from the East Gate.  Ride out the East Gate. Take a right, then immediately take the first left—almost straight out the gate. Take this small, quiet road alongside the parks until it dead-ends into the big road. Walk your bicycle across the street at the cross-walk, turn right, then cross the river just beyond the road as soon as you can. You will find a wide, quiet bicycle path that winds its way among trees along the river all the way to an entrance to Showa park exclusively for bicyclists and joggers. Click here for shortest Bike Map. See below for most pleasant bike map.

DSC_3231Driving Map to Sunagawa Parking

View Larger Map
Bike Map, low traffic road + bike path

View Showa Park by bike in a larger map

Winter Illuminationsshowa kinen winter sarah strausShowa Kinen Park has a nice lights show during December.  It is located at the Tachikawa entrance.  When I went with my kids we walked the area, ate a snack and did the little lights maze in one hour.  There are about 12 food booths scattered throughout the area.  For us it was a good destination on a school night, close and early enough to get home by the kids bedtime.  Park at the Tachikawa parking lot and pay just ¥200 to park starting at 4pm.  The lights come on a 5pm and end at 9pm.  The entrance fee is the same as during the day or you can get in free if you have a season pass.  In 2013 the show runs from Nov 30th through Dec 25th.  – Sarah Straus, Dec 2013.

Rainbow Pool & Water Park in Showa Memorial ParkSarah Straus, July 2012This place is a treat on a hot day. It’s fun, fabulous and close to Yokota.  We recommend parking at the Sunagawa Parking Lot, approximately four kilometers from the East Gate. (See “Showa Memorial Park” above for driving directions.) Once inside, take the free park shuttle bus from the gate to the water park.  The stroller-friendly bus picks you up behind the bike rental.

showa kinen by sarah strausThe standard price is ¥2200 for teens and adults; kids ages 6 and up ¥1200, ages 4 and 5 is ¥300. Age 3 and under are free. However, if you pay with your suica prices drop to: ¥2000, ¥1000, and ¥200.  Little kids will like the gradual entry wave pool (photo above). The pool is HUGE and the waves are mild. There is even a shady section of the wave pool. Older kids will be plenty entertained, too.  There are large water sides, a small water slide for little kids who can sit on a parents lap, a lazy river, a pool with waterfalls, two large pools and a spray park.

You might want to bring a tarp and anchor it down with all your floaties and pool toys to claim your space. (There’s a compressed air pump just outside the dressing rooms so save your breath for screaming down the water slides.) You can also bring a cooler and a shade tent.

Here are some tips for enjoying the park:
•Summer 2013 dates: July 13 – September 8.  You’ll need to translate this webpage – but here is more information for 2015: http://www.showakinenpark.go.jp/2015poolopen/index.html
•Save that stub! You’ll pay ¥400 to enter the park. Save your receipt to have this amount deducted from your pool entry price – or just pay for the Rainbow Pools at the park entrance.  However, you can also just buy the water park tickets at each gate.
•The magic of Suica: Show your Suica or pay with it and the price drops to ¥2000 adults, ¥1000 kids, ¥200 for ages 4 and 5.
•Come late! After 2pm, entry price drops to ¥1100 adults, ¥600 kids, ¥150 ages 4 and 5.
•Come often! If you think you might be a regular, go for the ¥6000 season pass, good until early September, kids season pass ¥3000.  Ages 4 and 5 season pass ¥700.
•Come pregnant! Expectant moms pay only ¥500!
DIRECTIONS: Same as “Showa Kinen Park” entry above.  Sarah Straus & others, 2012

Showa Park
Showa Park is an old-fashioned city park. There are a few small shrines, a five-tiered pagoda and assorted playground equipment. There are open areas for playing ball or soccer, a jogging track and a small animal zoo. It is shaded by trees and is a pleasant place for a picnic lunch. Vending machines for drinks are available. This park is free and easy to reach by car; free parking is available. Note: Showa Park is not the same as Showa Memorial Park (Showa Kinen Koen), at Nishi-Tachikawa station. Showa Park is a block south of the tracks and closer to Higashi-Nakagami station. Open daily from 8:40 am until 4:50 pm.
DIRECTIONS:Diane Cressman, Melody Messer, Patricia Caldwell date?

Jindai Botanical Garden

The Jindai Botanical Garden is worth a visit year-round because it always has flowers in bloom, but the best time to visit is between spring and summer. You can enjoy colorful plum blossoms in late February and early March. In late March and early April, the cherry trees along the parks path make a sakura tunnel of pink blossoms with millions of tiny leaves. At the beginning of April you might find a cherry blossom festival. Pink, red and white roses dominate the garden from late April to May. The park also has a large greenhouse bursting with tropical flowers, including orchids and begonias. Jindai has 100,000 plants with 3500 species. There are many places within the garden for picnics, but there are no food shops. You can find snack concession stands offering ice cream and cold drinks. The Jindai Botanical Garden was established in 1961 and encompasses an area of 356,683 square meters. Entrance fees are ¥500/adult, ¥200 junior high age, and children 12 and under are free. Hours: 9:30 am – 4:30 pm, closed Mondays and New Year’s Day. Telephone: 042-483-2300.

TRAIN DIRECTIONS: leave from Fussa Station for Tachikawa. At Tachikawa, change to the Nambu line on track for Bubaigawara (this train only goes in 1 direction from Tachikawa). At Bubaigawara, change to the Keio line for Fuchu/Shinjuku (the signs are in English). You can take an express or regular train and get off in Chofu. At Chofu, exit to the North side. You will see the Parco store and bus stops. To exit north, go up the stairs and through the ticket booths— the ticket booths at the bottom of the stairs lead to the South exit. The train fare to Chofu was about ¥420 from Fussa. You will need to take a bus, which will be located in front of the Baskin Robbins on the 1st floor of the Parco building. The bus stop number is 14, the bus number is 34. This bus will be to Jindai-ji, ask before getting on. The bus runs every 20 minutes during the week and more frequently on the weekends. Bus fare is about ¥200. The train takes about 1 hour and the bus ride about 20 minutes.

DRIVING DIRECTIONS: Take Route 16 to the Chuo expressway. The toll is ¥600 each way. When you get to the Chuo, take the entrance to Shinjuku. Chofu is exit No. 3 and you will see it just after passing the Fuchu racetrack on the left. When you come off exit 3, you will see tollbooths on the right and the road will split. You will need to get into the left lane as you pass the tollbooths. Watch for traffic on the left. You will be taking the split to the left, Chofu/Shinjuku. You will take this ramp and merge with traffic, but stay in the left lane. At the second light, turn left. You will now be on a smaller street, which will go back under the expressway and over a canal. After you cross the canal, you will turn right on the first non-residential street (it will be easy to see). Turn right at the first light. This road will take you past several restaurants and you’ll see many private parking lots to the left. You can park in any of the lots that are not full for about ¥1000. If you want to save a little money, you can use the garden’s parking lot. Instead of turning at the first light, you should turn right at the next light, which will lead you to the garden’s parking lot. It will be on the left hand side a short way down. Driving time takes at least 1 hour, except on the weekends. If you want to go on the weekend, you should leave home before 10:30am. The trip should never take more than 2 hours (unless it is a holiday). You will be able to find the Jindai Garden easily by following the crowds, or asking directions. You will go up a hill where you will pass many street vendors and lots of soba shops. You will also pass Jindai-ji, a very beautiful Buddhist Temple, which is also worth a visit. It only takes about 5 minutes from the parking lot to the gardens. Viki Lyn Paulson-Cody. Driving directions confirmed 2012.

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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