Tokyo is one of those few cities in the world that has it all: tradition, culture, modern skyscrapers, ancient neighborhoods, fashion, amazing food, a great subway and train system, temples, green areas, a river and even karaoke and izakayas open 24 hours.
So, if you are planning to visit Tokyo for the first time you may decide to stay in town. And I agree, you will not find reasons to go anywhere else.
But, if you are living here or you are already familiar with Tokyo, you might be wondering what else you can do or visit that is close by. If this is your case and if you enjoy nature, Ikuta Park could be an excellent idea.
Only 20 minutes from Shinjuku by train (Odakyu Line bound to Odawara) there is a peaceful gem full of nature in Tama Hills called Ikuta Park. If you take the express train, you will arrive exactly 23 minutes after leaving Shinjuku. Once you are in Mukogaokayuen Station, take the south exit and walk for 10 minutes. The park is big and easy to find.
Right next to the main entrance of the park you will see the Open-air Folk House Museum that has, on display, real old folk houses that had been brought in from many different areas of Japan. Inside one of them, there is a tatami around the fire where you can sit and enjoy a talk with some of the locals (volunteer staff) who are happy to tell you old stories. I am afraid you should be able to understand at least some Japanese in order to communicate. If that is not your case, you can still get inside and feel the traditional atmosphere.
Besides the Open-air Folk House Museum there is a planetarium, which is part of the science museum, an observatory and the Okamoto Taro Art Museum.
The big green areas are great options for a picnic and a rest while listening to the nature whispering.
Depending on the time of the year, you will find different types of flowers or trees in a wide range of colors. During the end of spring or early summer, you can enjoy the hydrangeas in full blossom.
The bamboo forest and the rose garden are some of the perks.
If sunset finds you there you might be surprised by the great amount of fireflies dancing around.
Whenever you feel that you need a break from the excessive noise of the big city, remember that Ikuta Park and Nihon Minkaen Museum are just around the corner. Give them a chance. I have the feeling that you won't be disappointed.
The entrance to the park is free of charge.
Open-air Folk House Museum information:
Opening hours [Mar. - Oct.] 9:30 – 17:00 [Nov. - Feb.] 9:30 – 16:30 *last admissions 30 min before closed time
Closed on Monday (open on holiday) The day after Japanese national holidays (open on Saturdays and Sundays) Year-end holidays and New Year’s holidays (from Dec 29th to Jan 3rd)
Ari T on Flickr