by S. Z. Cairney 

“Give me space” I yell to the heavens, “and trees, flowers, and grass”. Yes lots of grass, where my kids can run barefoot willy-nilly and do what kids do best! Well, there is a God. Tokyo has an abundance of glorious parks and the one I always seek sanctuary in is Showa Kinen Park in Tachikawa.

Incredibly spacious and conveniently located for most Tokyoites, the Showa Kinen Park has to be the crème-de-la-crème of parks. Built for the Emperor Showa—hence its name—to commemorate the 50th anniversary of his reign, the park is divided into four different zones: A, B, C and D. It is an understatement to say that the D zone is everything and much more the epitome of all those childhood fantasies we ourselves savored during those long gone playtimes. Whoever designed this area obvi­ously still retains a wonderfully child-like imagination, enriched with generous helpings of magic and mystery. Feel yourself pulled back into a time where fairies, elves and other such fantastical beings still roamed the earth.

Be a dare-devil and venture into the Children’s For­est; brave a walk through the Foggy Woods (see the web­site below for fog times), holding tightly to your little one’s hand for fear of what beastie may lurk round the corner; jump up to the sky and reach for the stars in The Sea of Clouds—a word of warning though, don’t jump up too high or you might find yourself landing in the Dragon’s lair right next door. And please be quiet, we don’t want to wake them up as they have been known to roar if their slumber is disturbed. There are caves to explore for hidden gold—delve a little deeper and you’ll happen on the Forest House, a wooden structure hous­ing medical facilities, baby changing, and a sweet shop all there to serve you. The house also hosts hobby and craft activities for kids to join in on (please check the schedule for times and availability).

As well as being home to a Waterfowl Lake, B Zone is complete with restaurant, a bird sanctuary, and a tree garden which also includes fantastic water play facili­ties for all age groups. Rainbow Pool and Water Play-land boast a large variety of differing pool areas with something for all ranges of size and age. An absolute must during those hot summer days. Or, if you fancy looking at the water from a drier angle, why not rent a boat and pop out for a mini-cruise on the lake?

C Zone has a fabulous barbecue area for those great outdoor types. You don’t even need to take anything along. Full equipment can be hired including barbecue food packs! There is also a Sports Area where ‘Horse shoe tossing’, ‘lawn bowling’ and delights of all de­lights ‘Croquet’ can be enjoyed.

A Zone sets the scene for the Exhibition Plaza com­plete with restaurant and the canal walk with its very pleasing-on-the-eye fountains.

After all this intrepid exploring, if you find your toot­sies giving up on you, catch the choo-choo train back to your entrance! Stops can be found all around the park and the kids will love waving at anybody and everybody even if you feel like you are on the verge of collapse!

I cannot recommend this park highly enough. It truly is a wonderful place. So, shrug off that giant bag you’ve been stuffing full of adult responsibilities and woes, beat those cobwebs aside, and walk through that long forgotten threshold to freedom and magic… for a few hours at least!

Showa Kinen Park
Nishi Tachikawa Station on the Chuo Line. Children age 6 and up: ¥80, 15 and up: ¥400.