Cold day. While it was a little chilly for strolling outdoors, the sky over Tokyo was blazing with sunshine, and thoughts of Inokashira Park were bobbing about in my head. I had some errands in Kichijôji, so decided to make my way there through the park. Kichijôji is a thirty minute walk from home, the last ten minutes of it inside Inokashira Park.
Though it is a part of greater Tokyo, the neighborhood of Kichijôji is situated in Musashino City in western Tokyo, and is one of the more desirable residential areas. Inokashira Park is a five minute walk south from Kichijôji Station.
The park first opened in 1918 and covers an area of 383,773 square meters (ninety-five acres) shaped around an elongated lake. In addition to the 10,000 square meters of open lawn, the park has over 11,000 tall trees of cherry, cypress and red pine. Visitors also enjoy the beauty of almost 12,000 shrubs, many of them azalea. There is a small temple situated in the park dedicated to Benzaiten, who is at times a goddess bestowing monetary fortune, and in another guise a vengeful goddess of love who fires arrows of discord at courting couples strolling through the park. Some say that lovers spending a day in Inokashira Park will soon split up.
Boating is popular on the lake year round in either the standard rowboat, or in a giant swan boat with pedal-paddles. (photo on the right) In spring when the cherry trees are in bloom Inokashira Park becomes a seething mass of people, many sitting under the trees, or browsing the dozens of ‘blanket vendors’ who spread their goods out on a blanket.
The photos here show the main entrance to the park, with steps leading down from Kichijôji; one of the broad walkways beside the lake; a narrow trail following the bank of the lake, and a small coffee house-snack bar nestled under the tall trees.
As metropolitan parks go, Inokashira Park is a splendid example.