Mizumoto Park: Seasons in Tokyo
Mizumoto Park (水元公園) may be one of the best kept secrets in Tokyo. The park, which is located in Katsushika ward, is the largest public park in Tokyo and worth a visit in every season. It is also one of the main reasons why I may never move out my neighborhood – Shibamata in Katsushika.
I remember the real estate lady showing me apartments looking very surprised when I within literally minutes decided to rent the house that I now live in. She questioned whether – as a foreigner – I would want to live in a rather old part of Tokyo and not in one of the livelier and more famous districts such as Shinjuku or Shibuya. At the time – my Japanese was very limited and I could not explain to her that I had enough of lively atmosphere back in my home in Istanbul – another giant city – and a less showy and vivid neighborhood would definitely not hurt (now I can probably at least attempt to explain this in a very bad Japanese). I would also need to give up at least 10m2 of space if I wanted to live in a more popular neighborhood due to the high rents in Tokyo and that 10m2 makes substantial difference in Tokyo`s small living spaces.
There are many things that make me glad that I chose to live here and the Mizumoto Park, located within a 15 minutes biking distance from my home – is one of the main reasons.
Autumn in Mizumoto Park
There are many great places to experience fall colors in Tokyo but Mizumoto Park may be the most ideal place for a more secluded experience. The park, which first opened in 1965 is home to very tall trees watching over a network of narrow biking and walking paths. The scenery is beautiful in every season but it sure becomes even more moving during the autumn when the leaves gradually change colors starting in late November and going well into the first half of December.
The weather is usually still pretty warm in Tokyo during the the late autumn and the chances of rain are low. So you usually have all the perfect conditions to enjoy a day out in the parks.
There is no entry fee to Mizumoto Park (unlike Shinjuku Gyoen or some others). There are number of simple eateries in the park but you can also – as commonly done – pack your own picnic. There are many vending machines for soft drinks. However – remember that the nearest convenience store to the park will take you a 15-20 minutes of walk one way. It is best to bring all your needs with you.
Sakura Season in Mizumoto Park
There are many sakura trees in Mizumoto Park where you are free to picnic either on the grass or on picnic tables spread around the park. My favorite activity is to bike or walk around the park during the sakura season and watch the joy of the families scattered all over the park enjoying their day with their families. Mizumoto Park is so large (228.000 acres) that it never really feels too crowded – not even during the sakura season. Thanks to the size of park and its forest like atmosphere – I always enjoy the sakura experience in Mizumoto Park a little more as it really makes you feel truly out in the nature. There are no urban/building views to interfere with the nature scenery – a rare feeling for urban parks.
There are also barbecue areas that you can freely use. Day camping is among the favorite park activities during the sakura season. Given the size of the park, if you want to explore each area – bringing your bike may be the best option.
Mizumoto Park is also home to a very large pond in addition to small ones where you can experience the lotus flowers in July. Although Ueno Park is the more popular spot for lotus flowers with its very large pond and central location, you may also want to give a try to the small one in Mizumoto Park where you can observe these beautiful flowers without any crowds. One of my favorite activities in July is to bike to the park in the early morning everyday and watch the progress of the lotus flowers throughout their very short season.
There is also a bird sanctuary in the park, which makes it a very popular spot for bird watchers and photographers. You may at all times running into a group of fully equipped photographers with zoom lenses as big as 400mm ones patiently waiting for the best shot. I really respect their devotion to bird photography. Carrying those big lenses and biking with those require a good level of devotion.
Access to Mizumoto Park
Mizumoto Park requires a little bit of walking from the nearest train station – Kanamachi Station. The walk will get you to the park in about 20 minutes but there are also buses leaving right outside of the station which will get you a little close to one of the many enter points to the park.
You can also combine your visit to the park with a visit to one of the most interesting temples in Tokyo – Taishakuten Temple. For that you can either take the line to Shibamata Station (nearest one to the temple) or the Shin-Shibamata Station (Hokuso Line which is connected with Asakusa Line). While in there – make sure to also stop at Yamamoto Tei Tea House. I hope I gave you enough reasons to visit Mizumoto Park and make a day out of it by also visiting the surrounding area. You will often question whether you are still in Tokyo.