A large percentage of the population in Japan’s cities and towns live in apartments. Homes in Japan often feature yards and gardens much smaller in comparison to those of the West. Public parks serve as open spaces for people to gather and enjoy a natural setting outside of but close to home. Consequently, you’ll find that Japan’s parks often feature exquisite landscaping, beautiful seasonal plants, water features and art. Some are even centered around historical landmarks: Yoyogi Park, in Tokyo, is next to the famous Meiji Shrine; Meijo Park, in Nagoya, surrounds the famous Nagoya Castle. Many festivals are held in parks over the weekends, drawing the community from throughout the locality to celebrate in an open space together.
Yoyogi Park Access
Meijo Park Access
People frequent parks to exercise, walk their pets, practice music and dance together, play sports and have picnics as well. At night, many parks in the larger cities feature elegantly lit architecture, which lend themselves well to sightseeing and romantic rendezvous. In the springtime, many parks hold their cherry blossom festivals in the public parks, and decorate them with pink lanterns, providing dramatic illumination against the delicate flowers. During the late summer, you will find parks crowded with people dressed in traditional Japanese clothing, enjoying popular local food served from food stands, enjoying the summer festivals.
Because of their social significance and popularity, most public transportation systems will have a station or bus stop nearby, often named for the corresponding park.
The photo above depicts Nagoya’s Oasis 21 park, with Nagoya TV Tower in the background. The park features a suspended, glass-bottom pond above the ground, a grassy area on the ground level, and shopping, delicious restaurants and live music and entertainment below-ground. In the winter, the park also features an iceless skating rink. Oasis 21 sits in Nagoya’s entertainment district, Sakae, and is accessible by subway at Sakae station.
Nagoya’s Oasis 21 Park Access
Nagoya’s TV Tower sits in the center of its own park, Central Park. A beautiful garden lines a stream that runs through the middle of the park, ending at one of Nagoya’s most popular beer gardens that sits underneath the tower itself.
Nagoya’s TV Tower Access
If you find yourself with some free time to relax, stop by the convenience store, grab some rice cakes and drinks, and enjoy them on a nice patch of grass in a nearby park. If the timing is right, you may be able to join in the seasonal festivities there!