Showa Kinen Kōen (昭和記念公園 – Showa Memorial Park) was built to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the former Emperor Showa's reign. Covering an area of 180 hectares (440 acres) or around 31 Tokyo Dome's, Showa Kinen Kōen is by far Tokyo's largest park.
Showa Kinen Kōen is divided into five zones: water, forest, open grass, culture and exhibition. You'll pass through the exhibition and culture zones before even entering the paid area of the park, and includes the Showa Museum (free) in which you can learn about the life and times of Emperor Showa himself (closed on Mondays, or the following day if Monday is a national holiday).
For a grassy spot to enjoy the sunshine or a good book, these free zones will suffice. But to experience what the park really has to offer, it's definitely worth the ¥400 entry fee.
The fountain and two gingko lined avenues past the Tachikawa Gate set the scene, especially in their golden hue in the Autumn months. Just exploring all the different zones and gardens will keep you occupied for several hours, but you can also enjoy a number of sporting and outdoor activities. I'd recommend hiring a row boat and heading out on the lake – the perfect spot for a date, especially on quieter weekdays.
There are also BBQ facilities on site, but due to their popularity they are usually booked out two month's in advance. Once reserved though, everything you need can be rented/purchased there (even your BBQ food!) so all you need to bring is your appetite!
Rental bikes (including tandem) are available for rent for just ¥400 (¥250 children) for 3 hours and can take you round the full 14km trail. Ever wanted to try a unicyle? In a designated area, you can do that here too! For those preferring to let someone else do the driving, hop aboard the park train (¥300 adults/¥150 children aged 4 – junior high school).
With its size and range of things to see and do, you could easily spend a whole day here.
¥400 adults/¥80 children (6-15). There are special discounts for groups of 20 or more. Children under 6 are free of charge.
Park Opening Hours
March 1 – October 31 9:30-17:00
November 1 – end of February 9:30-16:30
Saturdays, Sundays and Holidays between April 1 and September 30 9:30-18:00
Closed December 31st, January 1st, the 4th Monday of February and the following day.
Note that the park's opening times may vary depending on special events or maintenance. Please check their website for up-to-date information as well as a full list of activities and prices.
Showa Kinen Kōen is about 15 mins walk from Tachikawa Station on the JR Chuo Line (around 40 mins from Shinjuku).