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 of the nicest picnic spots in Tokyo to consider for your next day out.
1. Yoyogi Park
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.
Access: Harajuku or Yoyogi Station
Hours: Open all day, every day!
2. Showa Memorial Park
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. 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.
Access: Tachikawa Station
Admission: ¥450 (adults), ¥210 (senior citizens), children go free.
Hours: 9:30am-5pm (4:30 pm from November-February)
3. Mizumoto Park
This park in Katsushika Ward doesn’t enjoy the same amount of fame as Yoyogi Park, Inokashira Park, or Shinjuku Gyoen, and its lack of accessibility probably contributes to that, as the nearest station (Kanamachi Station on the JR Joban Line) is about 2 km away, which means that you have to take a bus from the station. (From March to November, the park administration offers a special bus service to the park on weekends and holidays, though).
So what does Mizumoto Park have to offer? It’s Tokyo’s biggest park with water landscapes, and it’s also the area in Tokyo with the most irises. Being surrounded by water, and having a forest of metasequoia trees to boot, it’s considerably cool there, so it might be a good idea to visit Mizumoto Park during the summer. Its central field is perfect for picnics and barbecues.
Access: 7-minute walk from Mizumoto-Koen bus stop (Keisei Bus bound for Togasaki-Soshajo or Nishi-Mizumoto 3-chome)
Hours: Open all day, every day!
4. Inokashira Park
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. The park is filled with entertainers and unusual sights (especially on the weekend) along with a boating lake and a temple dedicated to Benzaiten.
Tokyo flea markets are a great for bargain-hunting, pick up a new kimono or snag a new book on a shoestring!
Access: Kichijoji Station
Hours: Open all day every day!
5. Shinjuku Gyoen
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.
Access: Shinjuku Station
Admission: ¥200(children ¥50)
Hours: 9am-4:30pm (closed Mondays, unless it’s a holiday in which case the following day)
6. Kasai Rinkai Park
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.
Access: A minute’s walk from Kasai Rinkai Koen Station on the JR line.
Admission: Open all day every day (attractions vary)
Hours: Free (attractions vary)
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(ish) hike:
7. Mt. Takao
Tokyo’s resident mountain, Takao it provides lovely, scenic views, especially during spring and autumn. There are picnic tables around the area for you to relax after your hike, as well as a beer garden in the summer!
Access: Head to Takaosanguchi Stationon the Keio Line, under an hour from Shinjuku.
Hours: Open all day every day (but the chairlift runs from 8am – 5pm, and 9.15pm in summer for the beer garden)
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.
Access: Head to Okutama Station, about an hour and a half from Shinjuku Station.
Bonus: Kinchakuda, Saitama
We also covered a nice countryside walk in Satiama, just 45 mins away from Ikebukuro station. There are a few picnic spots along the way.
Access: Hanno Station
Try nabe—a popular cold-weather dish in Japan