Category Archives: park

Hitachi Seaside Park

Hitachi Seaside Park  26
I started my day trip to Ibaraki Prefecture with a visit to the Hitachi Seaside Park. Depending on the season, this park has huge and beautiful flower fields. Summer is the season for sun flowers and the park is not the only place celebrating a “Himawari Matsuri”. The closest train station to the park is Katsuta on the JR Joban line.

I wouldn’t recommend walking there though, as it’s a dull 30 minute walk from the station. Take the bus instead, or better, use a car.

Seaside Park is a big park near the coast and is probably one of the more bicycle-friendly ones with its special bicycle lanes. An amusement park, BBQ space and BMX course are part of it. All signs are in Japanese only.

Hitachi Seaside Park  09

The sun flowers were near the amusement park. Lots of flowers and most looked fine although the season is almost over. There were other flowers in bloom as well. Read the rest of this entry

Komazawa Park

Komazawa Park  Tokyo  07
Komazawa Park is a park near Komazawa University in the Setagaya Ward of Tokyo. I recently moved near the park so shortly after my arrival I had to explore it. Unlike its public image in the West, Tokyo is actually a quite green city with most wards having parks. Many of those also serve as evacuation areas, like Nakano’s Heiwanomori Park. Komazawa Park is neither for relaxation nor is it a popular cherry blossom spot. This park exists to make you sweat.

Komazawa Park  Tokyo  04

Where other parks have a big pond, a temple or a museum, Komazawa Park has stadiums, an area to hone your skateboard skills, Tennis courts and other sports facilities. It’s an excellent place to go cycling or jogging with special lanes separating those two. Besides the ubiquitous vending machines, tap water is available at certain spots in the park. Read the rest of this entry

Marronnier Park in Seoul

Maronnier Park  Seoul  11

Marronnier Park is a popular meeting point in the Daehangno neighborhood of Seoul. Daehangno is the theater distract with over 100 mostly smaller theaters showing performances and plays of all kinds every day. Exit line 4 at Hyehwa Station (혜화역) and you will soon see many ticket vendors. There are of course many restaurants, gift shops and coffee shops as well to spend the time before and after going to a theater. But Marronnier Park itself is a place for performances as well.

There is a stage and I’ve often seen bands performing there for free. In autumn the D-Festa was held, a festival to support the area. During the festival time there were many performances at Marronnier Park.

Maronnier Park  Seoul  04
Marronnier Park is many things, but there’s one thing it isn’t: a park. Read the rest of this entry

Iris Flowers at the Meiji Shrine Inner Garden

Iris flowers
On a lighter note, I managed to visit the inner garden of the Meiji Shrine yesterday. Most of the events in Juni are related to hydrangea and iris flowers. Probably the most accessible iris flower festival is at the small inner garden of Meiji Shrine. “Inner garden” doesn’t mean that it’s in the middle of the shrine. In fact, the garden is on the way to the shrine and can be easily overlooked.

Unlike the shrine, there’s an admission fee of 500 Yen for the garden. Usually in mid-June, iris flowers are in full bloom. There are no traditional dances, Japanese music etc. scheduled to be performed at the garden, it’s just a nice walk with lots of pretty iris flowers.

I received a ticket with a time on it but I could immediately enter. I guess they limit the number of people. There is not much space, not enough to set up a tripod, I think. Of course with broad daylight, who would need one anyway?

Iris flower field

Hundreds of Iris flowers were blooming giving an excellent view even in rainy season. In fact the rain drops on the petals look interesting on close-ups. I had to rush through the garden because I had a meetup afterwards, but the garden is not big anyway.

How to get there: JR Harajuku or subway station Meiji-Jingumae station.

Seoul Dream Forest in Winter

Dream Forest  Seoul  26
Seoul is not a green city, even when compared to Tokyo which actually offers many more parks (that often serve as evacuation areas too). Seoul Dream Forest is one of the big parks of Seoul and one of the locations of popular Korean drama Iris.

Unsurprisingly, there is not much to see during Winter. The park didn’t feel very big to me, it is the smallest among the four big ones. There is not much greenery in the main part of the park which includes a pond, the Design Seoul Gallery and the Cultural Plaza.

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More than the other park, Dream Forest is an event site. It’s not the forest that provides fascinating views, but the Wolyeongji (Moon Reflecting Pond), an artificial waterfall and the “jumping fountain” of Cultural Plaza. The event site is surrounded by green forest however. Read the rest of this entry

Ohori Park in Fukuoka

Ohori Park

Ohori Park is a western-style park in Fukuoka which contains a lake, a Japanese garden and an art museum. It’s very accessible by public transport (Ohori Koen station via the Kuko(airport) line) and one of Fukuoka’s popular cherry blossom spots. There are three lanes around the lake, separating bicyclists from joggers and people who are just taking a walk. It’s a wonderful place – not big like Ueno Park in Tokyo, but big enough to spend a few hours there.

A Starbucks is located in the park. I didn’t arrive early enough to go to the Japanese garden. Entrance to Ohori Park is free, for the Japanese garden you have to pay 240 yen (open until 5pm).

Ohori Park sunset

Osaka Expo Park

Tower of the sun
Expo 1970 was held in Osaka. At that time, Japan’s economic growth skyrocketed. That was twenty years before the “bubble” burst. The expo held the record of the most visited one until the Shanghai World Expo in 2010. Most of the pavilions have been removed of course, leaving only a park with the famous statue Tower of the Sun, a time capsule and a museum in the Expo Commemoration Park.

Back then the Expo was still relevant and various future technologies such as networking and maglevs were shown. There is a playground in the park and other attractions making it a nice weekend getaway during Summer. It’s not so exciting in September and during rainy season:

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Interestingly, the Expoland, an amusement zone near the commemoration park, is still standing. It has been closed since December 2007 after a fatal accident in May.

Kokubunji – Tonogayato Garden (Tonogayato Teien)

Tonogayato Garden
Making a stopover before heading to the Hachioji Matsuri for the second time, I visited Tonogayato Garden in Kokubunji. Kokubunji is on the JR Chuo Line, the garden is only a two minute walk from the South Exit.

The garden contains a pond with an island, a smaller goldfish pond and a bamboo forest. In contrast to the two ponds, there is a spacious lawn. A tea house is a reminder of the past of this park, the founder of Mitsubishi, Iwasaki Yataro, bought it in 1929 and built a tea house. The park was originally created for Eguchi Teijo, vice-president of the Manchurian Railway.

Tonogayato Garden
Goldfish Pond

It is designated as a Place of Scenic Beauty. Tonogayato Garden is a very diverse garden containing many different kind of flora and fauna.

Tonogayato Garden Read the rest of this entry

Aokigahara – Suicide Forest

Aokigahara

Aokigahara – also known as the Sea of Trees – is a 35 km2 forest which is so dense and monotonous that you can easily get lost in the woods when you leave the paths. The density of the trees is blocking the wind and with almost no wild life, the forest is very quiet.

Traces of the volcanic rock can be found everywhere. There also seem to be many “holes” in the ground giving the place an even more spooky atmosphere. However, Aokigahara isn’t infamous for the ghost tales which it inspired, but the high suicide rate due to which it became known as the “Suicide Forest”. The forest has been known for suicides for a long time, its popularity in modern times is attributed to the novel Nami no To.

Aokigahara

This trip to Aokigahara was the first one of a new hiking meetup. I thought that this location was perfect for the video mode of my very first digital camera, the Vivitar Vivicam 3610. If you watch the video, you’ll know why.

There are not many situations where I’d prefer the video mode of that toy camera over my Canon HV30! Read the rest of this entry

Todoroki Valley

Todoroki Valley

Just leaving the train station and looking around, many places seem to look the same. But Tokyo is full of hidden gems and one of them is Todoroki Valley.

The valley is in Setagaya ward and you wouldn’t expect such a place once you step out Todoroki Station (Tokyo Oimachi Line). After walking about three minutes you will reach the staircase that leads down to Todoroki Valley. There’s a walking trail alongside a stream and at the end you will see a path for Todoroki Fudo Temple.

The temple, however, is not the highlight of the valley.

Todoroki Valley Read the rest of this entry