Translated by Ellyn Barnes
Yoyogi Park: Harajuku's Secret Sanctuary
Written by Kazuyo
In this article we introduce one of Harajuku's secrets, Yoyogi Park. Just what makes it so worth visiting? All is revealed here!
Harajuku has a strong image as the birthplace of kawaii culture, with Gothic Lolita Fashion and Kyary Pamyu Pamyu at the forefront. But did you know that just behind the station, you can find the 7th largest park in Tokyo?
This is Yoyogi Park, which measures over 54 hectares. Here, not only can you enjoy the seasonal nature and wildlife, but there is also a range of other facilities available, such as cycle lanes, basket ball courts, and an outdoor stage for live performances.
During the weekend, festivals of countries all over the world take place here, including antiques fairs, Earth Day markets, and Thai and Brazilian festivals. At these events, you can buy products from these different countries and try their traditional cuisine, making Yoyogi Park an incredibly popular place.
A Natural Oasis in the Big City
Yoyogi Park was originally the athlete's village for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, but it was then redeveloped and opened as a public park in 1967.
The park is home to many different species of plants. In summer you can find crape myrtle and newly-budding malvaceae. Roses begin to bloom in early fall, followed by the autumn colors of the maple, ginko, and zelkova trees. In winter, the plum trees begin to blossom, an event much celebrated by the Japanese at New Year's. Finally, spring brings with it the gorgeous full-bloom of the cherry blossoms.
And it's not just plants - Japan's first ever bird sanctuary is also located here. Many of the trees in this area were carefully selected and planted to provide fruits that fit into the birds' diet. Although entry into the sanctuary is forbidden, you can still watch the birds as they flutter about the surrounding areas.
There are plenty of beautiful grassy areas within the park, so you can set up a picnic whenever and wherever you like.
Close to the center of the park you'll find an open space called Fountain Square, a lively area where many different people gather to practice musical instruments, dance routines, acting, and street performances. There are three fountains in the lake which are lit up at night.
Excellent Sports Facilities
When it comes to parks, the most accessible exercise is most likely running - and Yoyogi park is no exception. You can often see people enjoying themselves as they run along the paths here. However, unlike other parks, Yoyogi Park has a range of facilities to fulfil all your exercise needs.
Not only has the former 1964 olympic athletes village track remained in place as Yoyogi Park's athletics ground, but there is now also a soccer and futsal field, and two outdoor clay basketball courts, generously donated by Nike.
These facilities are open to the general public, but in order to use most of them, you need to apply for a place and win a lottery draw. However, the basketball courts are an exception - there's no need to apply, all you have to do is get there before anyone else!
Next time you feel like working out, why not head over for a game with some friends?
If you'd rather go cycling, don't worry about bringing your own bike - they have a rental service on-site! Just head over to the Cycling Center between 09:00 and 16:00. Prices for the first hour are 210 yen for adults and 100 yen for children, with every thirty minutes after costing just 50 yen.
Don't worry if your Japanese isn't too great - the advisory notes and tickets are also printed in English, and the staff can speak English, too!
If you're after something different, they also rent out tandem bicycles for 210 yen for the first lap and 100 yen for every lap thereafter. If you're going with your partner or child, why not try it out?
Different Events Every Weekend
As well as the aforementionedsssports facilities, Yoyogi Park also has an outdoor stage, which can accommodate up to 5,000 people, and an event space which hosts a wide variety of different events. Something different goes on here almost every weekend, whether it's a concert, flea market, or antiques fair.
Events involving food and drinks are particularly popular, especially international festivals such as the Thai Festival and Brazilian Festival, where you can buy local products, and try food and drinks from abroad. When events like these take place, the delicious aromas wafting through the air can reach as far as Harajuku Station, and just walking past the park can make you hungry.
Many people also go to Harajuku New Big Top, a huge specially-built tent in National Yoyogi Stadium Olympic Plaza that can hold up to 2,800 people. Here you can see musicals, concerts, and Cirque du Soleil performances.
So there you have it. There are so many ways to enjoy yourself at Yoyogi Park - why not drop by during your next trip, and try out something different?
Address: Jinnan 2-Chome, Yoyogikamizonocho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo-to
Open 24 hours
Open all year
Credit cards not accepted
Nearest station: Harajuku Station (JR Yamanote Line); Meiji-jingumae Station (Tokyo Metro Fukutoshin Line, Chiyoda Line)
Access: 3 minutes walk from Harajuku Station Omotesando Exit
Telephone: +81-3-3469-6081 (Yoyogi Park Service Center)
Official website: Tokyo Metropolitan Park Association Yoyogi Park