If you turn right when exiting Harajuku Station and walk up a short incline to the pedestrian bridge over the railway line you will be faced with two choices. To the right is the entrance to Meiji Jingu, Tokyo’s most revered shrine and to the left lies the entry to Yoyogi Park. Go right for serenity, tradition and a step back in time or go left for a fun, relaxed community space. My advice is to do both, but today my focus is on Yoyogi Park.
Yoyogi Park has an interesting and varied history. In 1910 the first successful powered aircraft flight in Japan took off and landed on the site of what is now Yoyogi Park. In 1945 it was known as the “Washington Heights” due to the site housing the military barracks for US officers during the allied post-WW2 occupation of Japan.
More topically given Japan’s hosting of the next summer Olympics, Yoyogi Park was the location for the Olympic village for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, as well as swimming, diving and basketball events at the Kenzo Tange designed National Gymnasium building. The National Gymnasium will extend its Olympic heritage by hosting the handball events for the 2020 Olympics.
The area became formally known as Yoyogi Park in 1967 and has since become a very popular venue for a wide range of activities. At 134 acres the park is one of Tokyo’s largest and has become a much-loved and used space, particularly at weekends when, weather permitting, the park comes alive with people.
The selected photographs make no attempt to show the natural beauty of the park, though that is significant, but rather focuses on the enjoyment gained from the park by visitors.
(Please click on any of the following images for an enlarged view.)
December 3, 2018 at 1:45 pm
Such an interesting read! Lots of facts I didn’t know. Your photos really capture the atmosphere of Yoyogi Park – I think it’s the best place in Tokyo for people watching!
December 3, 2018 at 5:00 pm
Thanks Celia. Actually if people are looking for an old Japan/new Japan contrast I can recommend observing the shinto weddings at Meiji Jingu, then going next door and seeing the rockabillies at Yoyogi Park.