Performance art at Yoyogi Park
It may seem odd to include mention of a park in a chapter about the stranger aspects of life in Tokyo, the ‘other’s side of life and the like, but given that Tokyo is so very limited on communal green spaces in which the populace at large and visitors from around the country or overseas can get together, the very existence of such a gem as Yoyogi Park in one of the busiest areas of the city is itself an oddity!
According to rumor – and likely true – Tokyo’s Yoyogi Park was actually set to vanish in whole or in part had Tokyo won their late 2009, bid to attract the 2016 Olympic Games. In the end, Tokyo’s bid failed and so we still have the park – although when you walk around town and see all the banners for the Olympic games for 2020, Tokyo is in the run for the 2020 Games.
In the past, the park was the site of Japan’s first ever powered flight, in 1910, served as a military drill area, later as a residential quartering zone for occupying American officers after World War II, before being turned into the athletes’ village for the Tokyo Olympics in 1964. Three years later it made its debut as a park and is now known as one of the best places in the city to see cherry blossoms (in Spring) and ginkgo trees (in Autumn) whilst also being an area for sports lovers to flock to with its multiple facilities and athletic areas near the sail like shape of Yoyogi Gymnasium.
Up and over to flea markets and festivals.
The park is sandwiched in between Harajuku and Shibuya, borders Meiji Shrine‘s own huge expanse of tree filled land, and is for many the best park in Tokyo if suffering from a lack of greenery. Other parks also worth a visit can be found in central Tokyo near the Imperial Palace, Shinjuku and out west in the suburbs.
Numerous lakeside and wooded walks can be enjoyed throughout Yoyogi as can the gentle spray of fountain in summer. Ball games, picnics, and dog walking all seems to be an ever-present regardless of when you visit – and it is all just a stone’s throw from the hustle and bustle of Shibuya and Omotesando.
Sunday afternoons sees a shift to the performing arts not seen in the week in areas near the main elongated fountain, when those out to practice dance moves, magic tricks, juggling, and a wealth of other hobbies are forever moving around, performing to passers-by and generally enjoying their moment in the spotlight – all individuals presumably not too displeased with Rio de Janeiro’s success in securing the Olympics.