Showa Memorial Park (昭和記念公園, Shōwa Kinen Kōen) is a park in the city of Tachikawa, 30 minutes from central Tokyo by train. Spanning over 160 hectares, this huge park boasts a variety of natural spaces, seasonal flowers, water features, museums and sports facilities. The park was opened in 1983 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Emperor Showa's reign.
The park is spacious and lush and has multiple wide lawns where visitors can picnic and relax. There are also woodlands with walking trails, picturesque Japanese and Western style gardens, a large pond and various flower beds that sprawl out over some of the many fields and hills.
Being so close to Tokyo, the park is a convenient escape from the crowded metropolis and is a popular place for cherry blossom viewing. The park's blooming period takes place a few days later than in central Tokyo, making it a great place to see cherry blossoms for those who missed out on the bloom in the big city. The best place to view cherry blossoms are the park's Cherry Blossom Garden in the north section of the Open Field.
Showa Memorial Park is also a popular destination for autumn color viewing. The leaves in the park usually change color already around mid November, typically a couple of weeks earlier than the trees in central Tokyo. The park's premier places for autumn colors are the ginkgo tree-lined canal in the southeast corner and the Japanese Garden with its many maple trees.
In addition to cherry blossoms, an array of other seasonal flowers grow in the park, the most prominent of which are nanohana (rapeseed), tulips and tsutsuji (azalea). Poppies are also abundant and cover the picturesque Flower Hill in the park's northeast corner. The different flowers reach peak bloom at different times, but late spring to early summer is generally the best time for flower viewing with the park's annual flower festival taking place from late March to May.
The Emperor Showa Memorial Museum is located in the park's southwest corner (outside of the Tachikawa park entrance). The museum exhibits photos and personal belongings of the late Emperor, from his botanical collection to the car he used to travel in.
Other attractions inside the park include a bonsai museum and a large children's play area with slides and bouncing domes. There is also a boating lake where visitors can rent row or pedal boats by the hour, a barbecue and adjoining sports facility area, a waterpark (open from July to September) and a small folk village with a traditional farm house. Some of the attractions require additional fees. There are also a few cafes and food stalls scattered around the park.
Getting around the park is best done by rental bicycle. Rental outlets are located at the multiple park entrances and charge 410 yen for three hours or 520 yen for the entire day. Bicycles allow visitors to easily traverse the park via the extensive bike-only track network. Alternatively, there is a park train (on wheels) that connects the different areas of the park for 310 yen per ride.