Written by Mitsuko Takahashi
Hinokichō Park, An Oasis In Bustling Roppongi
This article features Hinokicho Park, an elegant and relaxing area hidden in bustling Roppongi.
Roppongi is a popular entertainment district with posh restaurants, bars and night clubs, extremely popular among the foreign residents of Tokyo. Historically, there were Japanese Imperial Army battalions in this district before World War II. After the war, those sites have become garrisons of the American army. Soldier friendly bars and restaurants opened there like bamboo shoots after rain, making Roppongi into a popular entertainment district among foreign residents and visitors to Japan.
Hinokichō Park - An Incredible Oasis
Created in 2007, Tokyo Midtown is one of the recently developed landmarks in Roppongi. It appeals to visitors with elegant retail stores and fancy restaurants. However, not so many people know that there is an adjacent park behind it - Hinokichō Park.
*"Hinoki" means cypress in Japanese.
The park measures around 1.4 hectares, which is about the size of the baseball field of the Tokyo Dome. The site used to be the residence of a powerful lord during the feudal period. Its garden was famous for the magnificent Japanese cypresses, thus giving the name of the area.
Because this area used to be the site of a military battalion before the war, as mentioned earlier, the headquarters of the Defense Agency (now Ministry of Defense) were on the site of the current Tokyo Midtown until 2007 when the facility was inaugurated.
The park is dense with an amazingly rich flora, with various flowers blooming each season.
The sight of the beautiful stream and of the refreshing pond in this part have a relaxing effect upon the viewer. In addition, you can enjoy the contrast between the quiet nature and the tall buildings surrounding the area, which are the only reminder that you are in fact in the center of Tokyo.
The Children’s Playground
Children will have fun playing on the playground of the park. All the playground equipment - the swing, the slide, the play-gyms and fountains - are designed based on traditional Japanese patterns.
Play-gym with a Tatewaki-mon pattern
For instance, this play-gym is designed based on a pattern called Tatewaki-mon. The Tatewaki pattern is a traditional Japanese design used over 1000 years for decorating various Japanese commodities such as kimono and tableware. The pattern symbolizes water vapors from the sea and forming clouds.
Slide inspired by the Manji symbol
The slide is designed after the Manji pattern. Manji is symbol derived from Indian culture. In Hinduism, the Manji symbolizes “fortune” because it is said to resemble the whorl of hair on Buddha's chest. The pattern of this symbol traveled to Japan along with Buddhism, that is why we can still find the Manji symbol at Japanese temples.
Swing designed after a Genjiko pattern
The swing is designed after a Genjikō pattern from kōdō - the art of incence. Kōdō is a refined traditional art which requires many years of practice. Some say it is even more difficult than tea ceremony. During the incense-comparing games in kōdō, the pattern called Genjikō is used as a mark the degree in which the participants understand how the kōdō master burned the incense. The correct answer is shown afterwards and those who were able to distinguish the order in which the incense was burned are the winners.
Parents Can Be At Ease
While children are playing, the adults can also unwind themselves. There are terraces and restaurants in the area, as well as the 21_21 Design Sight, where people can enjoy exhibitions. Beverage companies often offer cold drinks including beer on the lawn.
Roppongi is also the area where many embassies are located and the home of a large expat community. Many foreign residents enjoy the sunny afternoons in Hinokichō Park. This elegant and relaxing area is sure worth visiting once in Tokyo.
Hinokichō Park 桧町公園
Address: Tokyo, Minato ward, Akasaka 9-7-9
Nearest station: By subway - Roppongi station (Ōedo line, Hibiya Line), Nogizaka station (Chiyoda line), Roppongi 1-chome station (Nanboku line). By bus - Roppongi station by buses No. 01, 88, 96, or Roppongi 7-chome station or Hinokicho Park station by Chi-bus.
Access: directly from Roppongi station Exit 8; 3 minute walk from Nogizaka station Exit 3; 10 minute walk from Roppongi 1-chome station Exit 1.
Official Website: Tokyo Midtown