Cherry blossom season isn’t the only time to roll out your mat and prepare your basket with edible goodies! Whether it’s a sunny, breezy spring day; a hot summer afternoon; or a cool day in autumn, there’s always a good excuse to have a picnic (except during winter). Here are some spots to consider for your next picnic:
1. Yoyogi Park
Access: Harajuku or Yoyogi Station
No list of recommended picnic spots in Tokyo is complete without Yoyogi Park, Tokyo’s hippest park. Some parks are visited for the scenery, but Yoyogi Park tends to be a center of activity, so holding a picnic here is not unusual—winter’s pretty much the only time when you don’t see picnicking groups over here. The park is spacious and grassy, and in between enjoying your food, you can also go people-watching.
2. Showa Memorial Park
Access: Tachikawa Station
Admission: 410 yen (adults), 80 yen (children 6-15 years old), 210 yen (senior citizens)
Hours: 9:30 am-5:00 pm (4:30 pm from November-February)
While Showa Memorial Park is a bit far from central Tokyo (about 30 minutes away from Shinjuku), this huge park is 1.8 sq. km. large—enough space for a nice picnic. In fact, every year, the park plays host to Tokyo Picnic, a mass gathering of picnickers and an effort to get more people to enjoy outdoor activities. (The 2015 Tokyo Picnic will be held from November 14-15, for those interested.) And speaking of outdoor activities, Showa Memorial Park offers a few, such as cycling and boating. It’s also a great place for a barbecue, but we’ll get to that in another article.
3. Mizumoto Park
Access: 7-minute walk from Mizumoto-Koen bus stop (Keisei Bus bound for Togasaki-Soshajo or Nishi-Mizumoto 3-chome)
4. Inokashira Park
Access: Kichijoji Station
You’ve probably heard of Inokashira Park because of its popularity as a cherry blossom-viewing spot. Even without the cherry blossoms, though, Inokashira Park’s forest-like ambiance makes it a suitable picnic ground. Being in suburban Tokyo, Inokashira Park isn’t exactly surrounded by skyscrapers, so for a moment, you can relax and pretend that you’re not in the city.
5. Shinjuku Gyoen
Access: Shinjuku Station
Admission: 200 yen
Hours: 9:00 am-4:30 pm
While Shinjuku Gyoen is a popular picnic and sightseeing spot (especially when the cherry blossoms are in bloom), it’s notable for having stricter rules than other parks. For one, bringing alcohol into the park isn’t allowed, and security actually does a baggage check before you enter. Loud music is also not allowed here. If you want to have a peaceful, quiet picnic, this is the place for you. The ban on alcohol also makes this park more family-friendly.
6. Kasai Rinkai Park
Access: Kasai Rinkai Koen Station
A sprawling park with attractions such as a Ferris wheel, aquarium, and bird sanctuary, Kasai Rinkai Park is worth considering for its spaciousness and tranquility. It hasn’t reached the same level of Yoyogi Park, after all, so it’s easier to enjoy some peace and quiet here. It also allows barbecue parties.
And for the hikers out there, here are a few places where you can reward yourselves with a picnic amidst beautiful scenery after a long hike:
7. Mt. Takao
Access: Takao Station
Tokyo’s resident mountain, it provides lovely, scenic views, especially during spring and autumn. There are picnic tables around the area for you to relax after your hike.
Access: Okutama Station
An area in Western Tokyo that borders Saitama, Okutama is popular in autumn for its vibrant leaves. It’s hard to believe that Okutama is still part of Tokyo because of its natural beauty: clean, flowing waters; valleys; and lots and lots of trees with not a skyscraper in sight. Okutama has several hiking trails, but it may be intimidating for beginners due to its rugged terrain. Along the trail, there are picnic benches where you can take in the scenery.
Bonus: Kinchakuda, Saitama
We also covered a nice countryside walk in Satiama, just 45 mins away from Ikebukuro station. There’s a few picnic spots along the way. Read the article for a full detailed itinerary.
Access: Hanno Station
In the mood for something a bit heartier? Try these BBQ spots around Tokyo.
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