History of Yoyogi Park
Sights to see at Yoyogi park
Events at Yoyogi Park
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Yoyogi Park is a city-managed park that contrasts the two ultra-urban, high-energy districts of Harajuku and Shibuya that sandwich it, with an unbelievable abundance of nature. Yoyogi Park seeks to be "the park with the widest sky in Tokyo", and has become a place of peaceful respite for many residents of Tokyo. Whether you like packing a bento box for a slow picnic, taking your bicycle out for a run, or spend some time with your friends playing sports, Yoyogi Park accommodates your needs. Right next to Yoyogi Park is Meiji Jingu, one of the most well-known shrines of the eastern Japanese Kanto region. Here, we will dive into Yoyogi Park, a sprawling oasis of nature in Tokyo, and find out about its history, and what makes it special.

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Meiji Jingu Shrine: Central Tokyo's Holy Oasis of Nature!

Tokyo < Shibuya / Ebisu

Meiji Jingu Shrine: Central Tokyo's Holy Oasis of Nature! Wander into the woods at Meiji Jingu Shrine! Meiji Jingu Shrine is located between Shinjuku & Shibuya, and is a major Tokyo shrine with Japan's top annual visitor count. Learn why Meiji Jingu Shrine is worth a visit today & the shrine's history!

Shrines & Temples

History of Yoyogi Park

From the 17th to early 20th Century

During the Edo period (1603 – 1868), the Yoyogi Park grounds were used as housing for daimyo, or high-level samurai, as the area surrounded the Edo Castle. Around the housing area was mostly peasant housing, and much of the area was covered with rice paddy fields.

After the fall of the Tokugawa family’s feudal rule, Japan entered the Meiji era, a time of rapid westernization and industrialization. In 1909, later in the Meiji era, the Yoyogi Park grounds transformed into a drill ground for the imperial military. This area was chosen since it located next to the imperial estate (currently home to Meiji-jingu Shrine). With a substantial amount of dust invading the air due to the practices on the drill grounds, nearby residents felt a great deal of discomfort and continuously filed complaints. The complaints did not go through at all, since the imperial army grew stronger as Japan faced a growing internal tension from rising international conflicts.

1964 Tokyo Olympics


1964 Tokyo Olympics Memorial

After decades of the Yoyogi area being used as a drill ground and Japan’s constant involvement in the World Wars, the imperial military disbanded and the Yoyogi area was handed over to the GHQ in 1945. A multi-purpose complex with over 800 housings, named Washington Heights, was built on the grounds in 1947, and inhabited by American occupation forces and their families.

In 1960, during the midst of Japan’s rapid economical growth period, Tokyo was chosen as the host of the 1964 summer Olympic games. The Meiji-jingu area was chosen as the main venue for the event, and the Japanese government wanted to construct the Olympic Village nearby. They set their eyes on the Washington Heights grounds, and started negotiating with the GHQ right away. With a lot of convincing and effort, the GHQ agreed on handing over the Washington Heights grounds back to Japan, and the construction of the Olympic Village finally began. A great deal of the facilities in Washington Heights remained untouched, and recycled as dormitories for the arriving athletes.

The Beginnings of Yoyogi Park


The autumn leaves of Yoyogi Park

Already during the Olympics, when the Yoyogi area was used as the Olympic Village, plans to turn the area into a park were already brought up. When the Olympics ended, the remaining buildings in the former Washington Heights premises were finally deconstructed, and in between 1966 and 1971, the tree-planting process began. Some trees in the park were sent in from all over Japan, including prefectures bordering Tokyo and ones as far in Kyushu prefecture in southern Japan. Evergreens such as camphor, beech and laurel trees are planted in the outer surroundings of the park. In the central area are broad leved deciduous such as zelkova, cherry blossom and maple trees. For a spectacular view especially during the spring and autumn seasons, gingko and cedar trees are planted throughout the park.

Sights to see at Yoyogi park

Yoyogi Park is divided into two sections; the A district and B district. The A district is closer to Harajuku Station, and is the quieter and greener of the two. Dogs are not allowed in the A district (with the exception of the Dog Run), in order to keep the birds of the area safe. The B district is home to the Yoyogi National Gymnasium, used in the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games. This district has much less forestry and provides several sports and event facilities.

Central Area


The water fountain in Yoyogi Park's central square

Located in the central half of the park is the Central Area. The fountain located in the park is surrounded by cherry blossom trees, and is a splendid sight during the spring. There is also the Flower Land in the Central area, and occasional flower exhibitions are held there. To the northern end of the Central area is the Yoyogi Dog Run, the largest dog park in Tokyo. To use the Dog Run, one must register themselves and their dog at yoyogidogrun.net (guidance available in English).

Panorama Square


Cherry blossoms at Yoyogi Park

After a 100-meter walk from the Harajuku gate, you will arrive at the Panoramic Area. This zone has 100 flowering dogwood trees, which were donated by the United States as a 100th anniversary gift of Japan’s donation of 3000 cherry blossom trees in 1912. Japan’s first pedestrian deck is also located in this area, and the high-up walkway connects the A and B district. An observation deck is positioned on the pedestrian deck as well, and from there you can enjoy the green view of Yoyogi Park. Also in the Panoramic Area is the Rose Garden, where over 30 different varieties of roses blossom every May.

Yoyogi Park Olive Square

Just to the right after entering from the Harajuku gate is the Olive Square. The Olive Square is home to the Mihon-en, or “Exemplary Garden”. During the Tokyo Olympic Games in 1964, the park planning committee had athletes from all over the world bring plants that represented their country. 22 countries participated, with 24 different types of plants in total. Aside from the Mihon-en, there are other Olympic-related memorials and facilities, such as the Olympic Village Housing memorial.

Hill Area

To the west of the Central Area is the Hill Area, where there are even more cherry blossom trees, making it a popular spot during spring’s cherry blossom season. There are also hydrangeas planted in this zone, and people come in June to see them in full bloom. This is also where the first aircraft took off in Japan, and there is a memorial commemorating that event.

Event Area


The stadium in the Event Area

In the B district, or the southern half of the park, is the Event Area, where there are several event and sport facilities. Here is a summary of the facilities and their usage rules:

Track:

・ Open to the public on: first Sundays, third Saturdays, every Wednesday from 9:00AM to 9:00PM; every Tuesday, Friday and Saturday night from 6:00PM to 9:00PM.
・ Closed every first and third Friday, and from December 29th to January 3rd.

Soccer Field:

・ Registration necessary. Registration forms available at Yoyogi Park.
・ To book the field: between the 1st and the 10th on the month prior to your reservation, call 03-3468-6081 and book. 2 hours is ¥7200, 3 hours is ¥10,800
・ Closed: Second and Fourth Tuesdays, from December 29th to January 3rd, and whenever the field is pre-booked for an event

NIKE Basketball Court:


NIKE Basketball Court

・ Two outdoor basketball courts open every day for public use.

Cycling Center:

Those who want to spend an active day at Yoyogi Park can visit the Cycling Center located in the Northern area of the park. The Cycling Center rents out three types of bicycles: adult size, children size and tandem (two-people bicycles). Here is more information about renting a bike at the Cycling Center:
Renting hours: 9:00AM to 4:30PM (last rental at 4:00PM)

Pricing:
・Adult size: ¥210 for the first hour, ¥100 for every additional 30 minutes
・Children size: ¥100 for the first hour, ¥50 for every additional 30 minutes.
・Tandem: ¥210 for the first hour, ¥100 for every additional 30 minutes

How to rent a bicycle:
⑴ Get a ticket at the ticket vending machine
⑵ At the rental counter, fill in the rental form and hand it over to an attendant.
⑶ The attendant will find a bicycle that suits your size.
⑷ Make sure to return it to the Cycling Center when done.

Events at Yoyogi Park

International Festivals (Year-round)

Some of Yoyogi Park’s most popular events are the international festivals. The international festivals introduce a country’s culture and cuisine during a span of usually two days, and are always crowded with people enthusiastic about trying a taste of a new culture. Some of the countries include Thailand, Vietnam, Spain, India and Taiwan, with the list growing every year. There is no entry fee, but you must pay at each booth or food stand when buying something.

Other Events

From concerts to flea markets, there are also quite a number of varieties of events as well. Other remarkable events include Tokyo Pride, which celebrates Japan’s LGBT community, and the annual World Christmas Festival, bringing in the Christmas spirit and traditions from all over the world.

Access to Yoyogi Park

Nearest station: Yoyogi-koen Station 代々木公園駅 (Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line C02)

From Shinjuku Station 新宿駅

【Shinjuku Sta.】Odakyu Line / for Hon-Atsugi
→【Yoyogi-Hachiman Sta.】→ about a 5-minute walk to Yoyogi-koen Sta.

From Tokyo Station

【Tokyo Sta.】Tokyo Metro Marunouchi Line / for Ogikubo
→【Kokkai-gijidomae Sta.】Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line / for Yoyogi-uehara
→【Yoyogi-koen Sta.】from Exit 4 → leads directly to Yoyogi Park

From Narita Airport

【Narita Airport Sta.】Skyliner / for Nippori
→【Nippori Sta.】JR Yamanote Line / for Ikebukuro
→【Harajukui Sta.】Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line / for Yoyogi-uehara
→【Yoyogi-koen Sta.】from Exit 4 → leads directly to Yoyogi Park

From Haneda Airport

【Haneda Airport Sta.】 Tokyo Monorail / for Hamamatsucho
→【Hamamatsucho Sta.】JR Yamanote Line / for Shinagawa
→【Harajukui Sta.】Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line / for Yoyogi-uehara
→【Yoyogi-koen Sta.】from Exit 4 → leads directly to Yoyogi Park

Nearby Destinations of Yoyogi Park