By JI HEE SONG
What comes to mind when you think of Tokyo? Renowned as a metropolis filled with skyscrapers and contemporary architecture, abundance of ‘green areas’ may not be your first thought. Contrary to the expectations of many visitors, the city does have plenty of green areas which offer its locals an opportunity to escape from busy city life and Inokashira Park is one of them.
Take a short walk from Kichijoji, the most beloved town in Tokyo among Tokyo residents, and you will easily find this cozy park which is not only rich in nature but also in history. Its name ‘Inokashira’ was given by Iemitsu, the third Tokugawa shogun in the 17th century. The name ‘Inokashira’ means either “source of the water supply” or “well that supplies the most delicious water” since the Inokashira Pond was the source of the first water service for Tokyo (then called Edo) until the Kanda water supply was built in 1898. In 1917, it was established as Japan’s first suburban park and just has celebrated its 100th anniversary this May.
The beauty of Inokashira Park shines not only in spring but also in the other times of the year.
Although it does not offer drinking water anymore, it perfectly fulfill the role as a relaxing getaway. The park consists of four sections and few attractions. There is no doubt that Ghibli Museum is the most popular attraction of this park. Ghibli Museum is a museum dedicated to the famous animation studio, Studio Ghibli, which is located in the southwest end of Inokashira Park. The park also contains a small zoo where you can enjoy watching a number of Japanese species and tropical birds for a reasonable price (400 yen for adults, 150 yen for students). Lastly, never forget to ride the swan boat which is loved by friends, couples and families.
The famous ‘Ghibri (animation) Museum’ is in the southwest of the Inokashira Park.
Inokashira Park has a face for every season and is beautiful in its own way. However, the most beloved season for visitors to come around is spring. Chosen in the Top 100 Best Spots for Hanami (cherry blossom viewing), every spring it is crowded with people all over Tokyo to enjoy peak bloom. Moreover, it hosts two annual events: Kichijoji Music Festival, a park concert in the beginning of April by brass bands and choirs and Kichijoji Anime Wonderland which is held every October. Furthermore, every weekend many artists sell their own craftworks at the ‘Art Market’.
Cherry Blossoms in Inokashira Park is renowned in Japan.
Even though its looks have changed over 100 years, the love from locals remains still. How she continues to be loved and what kinds of story she will tell remains to be seen.
All images are by author.