Written by Anna
Senzokuike Park - A Hidden Gem In Tokyo With Nature And A Rich History
Although there are many beautiful manmade gardens and landmarks in Tokyo, finding genuine nature in the middle of the city can be hard. Senzokuike Park in southeast Tokyo, however, is a rare natural gem. The park and its pond are ideal for relaxing, jogging, or rowing, and boasts a long history.
Senzokuike Park - Serene Nature and History in the Middle of the City
Plenty of beautiful manmade gardens and landmarks are found throughout Tokyo, but natural beauty can be harder to come by.
Senzokuike Park, located just off a busy main road in Tokyo's southeastern Ota Ward, is a rare natural gem.
The park contains a pond and offers an outdoor oasis for relaxing, jogging, or paddle boating. Senzokuike contains interesting history as well, including a shrine once visited by a Japanese warlord.
Continue reading this article to find out more about this natural oasis in the city and how to enjoy a morning or afternoon there.
The History of Senzokuike
The pond has existed since the Heian period, around the 8th century.
It is said that there were four major springs that were the main source of water for Senzokuike Pond. Presently, there are still several springs that flow into it from the surrounding area.
The water eventually flows out to the Nogawa River, once used for agricultural purposes but is now used as a recreational space.
While the pond has always been named Senzoku, its name originally came from the Chinese characters “thousand” (千 sen) and “grass” (俗 zoku).
The founder of the Nichiren school of Buddhism, Nichiren, is said to have washed his feet here in the 13th century. After this, the characters changed to honor his visit. It is still pronounced Senzoku (sen or 洗=wash, zoku or 足=foot), however.
Senzoku Hachiman Shrine, located inside the park, also has historic significance. It is said that a Minamoto Yoritomo, a prominent warlord of the 12th century, came to the shrine to worship. One night, a wild horse appeared suddenly. Yoritomo adopted the horse, which became a loyal companion in many battles thereafter. Presently, this tale is commemorated by a large horse statue.
What to Do at Senzokuike Park
Below are some suggested activities to enjoy at Senzokuike Park.
Take a Stroll
Walk around the pond, which is about 1 km (.6 miles) total. While you make your way around, you can stroll along the boardwalk and look at the koi fish, turtles, and ducks swimming in the water.
Near the boardwalk is a small bridge that leads to a shrine of Benzaiten, a water goddess of literature and music, wealth, and femininity. The pond is known for being the subject of many ukiyo-e (woodblock print) paintings, and you may even come across painters here on a lucky day.
There are also many beautiful trees and flowers, and in the spring the pond is lined with cherry blossoms. The picture above features a bright hydrangea in full bloom, which blossom in the early summer.
For a tranquil option, head to the aforementioned Senzoku Hachiman Shrine. It is quiet, and a great place to take a moment and appreciate the peacefulness of the park. Here you can also see the horse statue in honor of Yorimoto.
Upon exiting the shrine is a beautiful arched bridge, called Ikezuki Bridge. Meaning “moon in the pond,” it is named after the Yorimoto’s fabled horse.
Within the park there is also a playground for children, and plenty of vending machines in case you get thirsty.
Paddle Around the Pond
For couples or families, you can rent a paddleboat or swan boat and paddle around the pond. It costs 400 yen per 30 minutes for the rowboat, and 800 yen per 30 minutes for the swan boat.
Floating on the water's surface offers a different perspective of the pond, and a close look at its aquatic life.
Jog Through the Park
There is a paved path around the pond that is perfect for those who want to avoid the bridges and boardwalks and simply run under the beautiful trees. The surrounding area is very hilly, making it a great spot if you are looking to incorporate hill repeats or do a more challenging workout.
Getting To Senzokuike Park
Senzokuike is located right across the street from Senzokuike Station on the Tokyu Ikegami line. It is about 25 minutes from Shibuya Station, and 45 minutes from Ueno Station.
Not just a beautiful park, Senzokuike has a rich and beautiful history as well. With plenty to do and see, it is a great escape from the concrete jungle.