Yoyogi Park is a welcome green lung in the heart of Tokyo. One of the city’s largest parks, it abuts the busy Harajuku district in Shibuya and is a popular place for young people to hang out on the weekends.
For most Tokyoites, Yoyogi Park’s wide-open spaces, lawns, ponds and forested areas offer a rare opportunity to be surrounded by nature and get away from cramped living spaces and urban landscapes.
While the park is busy seven days a week with joggers, picnickers and walkers, Sunday is the best day to head to the Park to get a sense of its huge importance to Tokyo’s youth culture.
As well as being an important hang out for Tokyo’s famous Harajuku youth (who love to dress up in outlandish costumes) all kinds of clubs regularly meet here on weekends to rehearse, jam and dance. You can expect to see hip-hop dancers, indie bands, circus performers and Yoyogi Park’s famous rockabilly gangs, dressed head to toe in black leather and sporting the most outlandish greased-back hairstyles and coiffed quiffs (and that’s just the guys!).
Yoyogi Park has a more contemplative side, however, and you can easily get away from the crowds by following its many paths deeper into the woods. The important Meiji Jingu Shrine in the north was built in 1920 and posthumously dedicated to the Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken who enjoyed talking walks in the park. Major national events are held annually at the shrine, which also houses a Treasure Museum and martial arts hall.
Yoyogi Park hasn’t always been a public space. In 1964 the Yoyogi Park area was used as an Olympic Village during the Tokyo Olympics, and before that, as a residential area for US military personnel.
Directions: Yoyogi Park is a 5-minute walk from Harajuku Station on the JR Yamanote Line.