A list of the top 100 Japanese city parks was compiled by the Japan Green Parks Institute in 1989, and on that list you can find 5 parks in Aichi Prefecture, all within a reasonable distance from Nagoya City itself. If you are looking for a great day trip for you and your family or friends, you could do worse than getting outside for a day in the park!
Okazaki Park includes Okazaki Castle, the museum, and many historical points. For 300 years Okazaki Castle has been honored as the birthplace of deified local historical figure Tokugawa Iyeyasu and cradle of the Tokugawa Shogunate.
You can enjoy views of cherry blossoms and Japanese wisteria along the Oto River in spring nearly unparalleled in the region; Okazaki Park is listed among “Japan’s Top 100 Cherry Blossom Spots.” Another point to note are the “Great Ieyasu Kou Aoi Bushoutai” warlords strutting around the park to entertain tourists in their armor. You can get photos with them, or see their show.
While this park is about an hour outside Nagoya, you will find the scenery and relative peace of the park worth the trip out of town.
Photo:Creative Commons "Okazakikoen" by Japandr (CC BY-SA 3.0) -Modified
Higashiyama Park includes the Higashiyama Zoo and Botanical Gardens, as well as a variety of smaller attractions, shops, and restaurants in addition to the usual playgrounds, trees, and grass found in the usual park. This park, however is anything but usual; it is huge, well appointed, and well cared for. A lot of thought has gone into it, and a lot of special events occur there.
You can feed animals at the zoo, sit under the blossoming trees (cherry, plum, wisteria, and apricot), or stroll through a number of gardens filled with flowering plants. If that is not enough, there are 500+ species of animal at the zoo, including: koalas, giraffes, and even a rare leopard, and the Higashiyama Sky Tower, whose 360 degree view of the Nagoya skyline is among Japan’s most popular night views.
Higashiyama Park has a dizzying array of things to see and do, to the point that you will not likely see it all in one day.
Photo:Creative Commons "Higashiyama botanical gardens" by KAMUI (CC BY-SA 3.0) -Modified
Odaka Ryokuchi Koen is in Midori-ku in the southern part of Nagoya City. While the park is accessible by train just a 5-min. walk from Sakyoyama (左京山) Station on the Meitetsu Line, the park is a bit out of the way, and is most favored by those with access to a car. If you make the trip though, it is well worth the effort.
The park is drive through, and offers a number of attractions worthy of a family outing including:
Photo:Creative Commons "Ōdaka Ryokuchi, May 2011 a" by artiechaut_1868 (CC BY-SA 2.1) -Modified
Meijo Park includes Nagoya Castle, Ofuse Pond, Meijo Park Flower Plaza, Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium, and the Nagoya City Archives. The park is conveniently located in Kita-ku, just a few minutes from Shiyakusho and Meijō Kōen Station on the Meijo Line.
Mejio Park is a great place to see cherry blossoms in April, and wisteria in April and May. There are ball fields and playground equipment, and one of the coolest things is a big windmill set in the middle of a tulip garden! While it lacks the “attractions” of our previous parks, it is a perennial favorite for hanami, jogging, and walks in the sunshine.
Photo:Creative Commons "Meijo Park" by Alpsdake (CC BY-SA 3.0) -Modified
Ochiai Park is best known for its 1ooo cherry trees representing 90 variety of cherry (making the hanami season last a bit longer than other places), and for the Kasugai Fireworks festival which is held annually in July.
It also features a large pond with a fountain that is lit in 7 colors after dark, and what looks like a pumping station made of red erector set pieces. While quite large and well appointed with ball fields and playgrounds, it is not easily accessible by public transportation. It is best reached by car, or from Kasugai Station, but from there it is… a hike.
Photo:Creative Commons "Ochiai_Park_(Kasugai)_7, May 2011 a" by KKPCW (CC BY-SA 2.1) -Modified
Get out there and play a bit, and let us know what you thought about these parks, or suggest alternatives if you think your favorite spot is better than one or all of these. We would love to hear from you!