Turning 100 years old in 2017, this much-loved park is one of the city's greenest getaways.
Famous among tourists for being home to the Ghibli Museum, locals know and love Inokashira Park for its plentiful nature and relaxing atmosphere. Located in the artistic, increasingly trendy neighborhood of Kichijoji, the park is one of Tokyo’s greenest and most picturesque.
Centered around Inokashira Pond, the park truly has a face for every season; from the lush greenery of summer to the stunning reds and golds of fall momiji to the coming of migratory birds in the winter. The most popular season is spring when thousands come to see the early-blooming plum blossoms in March, and the cherry blossoms which bloom so thickly they obscure the pond’s shore, in early April.
Take a boat out on the pond to get personal with the resident ducks and enjoy the beautiful foliage from a different angle. Boats start from 600 yen to rent and are paid for by the half-hour or hour, depending on the type (rowboat, paddle boat, or swan boat) you choose. Though the scenery is romantic, take care about cruising with your partner as local legend says that couples who take a boat ride will be cursed by the jealous goddess Benzaiten to break up soon thereafter.
The pond is not Inokashira’s only point of interest. Benzaiten’s nearby Benten Shrine is worth visiting. Though small, the vermillion-lacquer of the shrine contrasts beautifully with the surrounding vibrant green trees. Nearby Ochanomizu, the small spring where shogunate Ieyasu Tokugawa drew water for a tea ceremony, provides an interesting bit of local history.
The family-friendly Inokashira Park Zoo, the former home of Japan’s oldest elephant, gives you access to two zoo parks – one, an aquatic habitat and the other, a petting and traditional-style zoo – with one ticket.
If the weather’s nice, you can almost always find local street artists drawing crowds. In addition, the park hosts several festivals throughout the year, the biggest of which are the Kichijoji Music Festival during Golden Week and the Kichijoji Anime Wonderland in October. The park turns 100 in 2017: watch this space for details of the centennial celebration.