Once the residence of the powerful Tokugawa clan, this woodland park has been a haven for walkers, couples and visitors since opening to the public in 1969. Kitanomaru Park encompasses the Budokan, famous as a martial arts training center and concert venue.
Kitanomaru Park: A Hidden Oasis of Nature, Culture and History in Tokyo
1. Learn The History
Before starting your Kitanomaru Park tour, it's better to learn a little bit abotu it. Kitanomaru Park was once part of Edo Castle (which burned down in 1873) and was home to the ruling Tokugawa family (and a medicinal garden). Besides being mostly surrounded by a moat, two original Edo gates remain as park entrances. The most impressive is the Tayasu-mon near Kudanshita Station, constructed in 1685. The other is the Shimizu-mon which takes you out near the Chiyoda Ward Office. Later the park became a military post for the Imperial Guard, but after WWII most buildings were removed, except for the Meiji period headquarters building (built in 1910) which is now home to the Craft Gallery. The park opened to the public in 1969 to commemorate the 60th birthday of Emperor Showa.
2. Cherry Blossom Viewing
Kitanomaru Park is an excellent spot for a hanami party. There are 320 yoshino sakura trees in the south west corner of the park at Chidorigafuchi Moat. The view is better from the Chidorigafuchi side of the moat. The Kitanomaru Park side has more spots to set down mats for a party. Chidorigafuchi Moat is amongst the most famous hanami spots in Japan. If you're planning a party in the area send out early scouts to claim your territory with a blue mat. If you happen to be in town in spring, this is a must thing to do at Kitanomaru Park. Additionally, Kitanomaru Park is also amongst the best spots in Tokyo to view fall colors.
3. Culture In The Park
Kitanomaru Park is not only about natural scenery—in fact many enjoy its cultural offerings without even noticing that they are on the edge of this park. On the park’s southern edge is the Museum of Modern Art Tokyo (MOMAT) and its Craft Gallery. Inside the park is the Science Museum. And perhaps the most striking building in the park is the Budokan, Japan’s top martial arts venue, built for the 1964 Olympics judo competitions. It’s rare to walk past the Budokan without seeing some interesting event taking place, whether it’s lines of cosplay enthusiasts awaiting a huge concert, kimono-clad singers practicing their choruses, or even some martial arts people preparing for a lesson or exhibition. Don't miss these interesting things to do at Kitanomaru Park.
4. Remains of Edo Castle
The Kitanomaru Park area was once the well defended northern section of Edo Castle. It was home to many generations of the Tokugawa clan who ruled Japan during the Edo-era. The castle burned down in 1873 and was never reconstructed. What remains today are moats, walls, guardhouses and foundations. These are best viewed in Kitanomaru Park and in the nearby Imperial Palace East Gardens. Don't miss this on your Kitanomaru Park tour.
For many Westerners, the Budokan is synonymous with large-scale rock concerts. It was here that The Beatles made their Japanese debut and the location where many 'Live at the Budokan' albums were recorded. The Nippon Budokan, however, was originally built for the judo competition in the 1964 Summer Olympics, hence its name, rendered into English as Martial Arts Hall.
6. National Museum of Modern Art
While you're on Kitanomaru Park, you should visit the National Museum of Modern Art. The National Museum Of Modern Art, better known as MOMAT, in the south end of the park offers a collection of around 9,000 Japanese artworks created since the Meiji-era. It's arguably the nation's best collection of contemporary art. It is one of the interesting science museum in Tokyo. They have many experiencing science for all aspect of science. It is designed and planed to expand the interest for science. Each floor has different segment of science, so you can enjoy all kinds of science at one visit.
How to Get Tickets?
There are no entrane fees to go to the park. You can enjoy the things to do at Kitanomaru Park for free. However, if you plan to visit the museum, rent the botas, or drink or eat in the park area, then you must bring enough cash with you.
How To Get Around?
Kitanomaru Park tour is best explored on foot. The park is huge and there are so many things to do at Kitanomaru Park if you walk there. Nearby is the Museum of Modern Art Tokyo (MOMAT) and its craft gallery as well as the Showa Memorial Museum. Everything can be easily reached by walking.
What Should I Wear?
There is no dress code to enjoy the things to do at Kitanomaru Park. You can wear anything comfortable depending on the weather to visit the park.
Best Time to Visit
Though Kitanomaru Park tour can be done at any time of the year, the park is the most beautiful in spring and fall. In spring, the temperature is perfect and the cherry blossoms are blooming, giving you beautiful view to have a picnic with. In fall, the temperature is a little bit cold but the colors of the nature are too pretty to be missed.
Will I Need a Guide?
No, you can enjoy the things to do at Kitanomaru Park by yourself. There is no need to hire a guide as you will be able to explore the area easily.
How To Get There?
The most convenient entrance to the park is from the Kudanshita side, through the Tayasu-mon Gate, just a two-minute walk from Kudanshita Station on the Tozai, Hanzomon and Shinjuku subway lines.
Keep the park clean, do not litter, leave your trash, or pick the plants there.