Showa Commemorative National Government Park: Restoring Greenery And Improving Humanity
Showa Memorial Park is a national park in Tokyo, Japan, covering 180 hectares. It opened in 1983 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Emperor Hirohito Showa’s reign. The 50th anniversary of his reign was in 1977, when the land for the park was returned to Japan from the US; it was originally part of a former US military base. Now, it serves as a multifunctional leisure and entertainment venue, featuring natural playgrounds, flower gardens, cycling paths, boating, outdoor fitness areas and a nature photography classroom.
Throughout the seasons, the park showcases different flowers, including cherry blossoms and tulips in spring, and asters and autumn leaves in fall, attracting numerous visitors and photography enthusiasts. It also serves as a showcase of culture and history for people with disabilities, housing a braille library and a museum dedicated to braille, introducing the invention and development of braille.
The History of Showa Memorial Park
The park was originally a military airfield for the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II. In 1945, after Japan's defeat, the airfield was taken over by the US military, and a military base was constructed on the west side. The land was returned to Japan in 1977. From 1982, a part of Tachikawa Airport was shared by the Ground Self-Defense Force and other departments. In 1983, the Japanese government decided to develop the western camp into a park as a symbol of peace and prosperity. The park was named after Emperor Showa, who passed away in 1989 and was known for his love of nature and plants.
Showa Memorial Park is divided into five zones which are green culture zone, exhibition facility zone, water zone, plaza zone and forest zone. Green culture zone and exhibition facility zone have a western style while the other zones focus more on natural attractions.
- Green Culture Zone (free area): It is close to JR Tachikawa Station and the Tama City Monorail, connecting the lush parks with the bustling city center.
- Exhibition Facility Zone: The area is flat and serves as a corridor from the urban area to the natural park. It retains the cultural atmosphere of the green culture zone and is suitable for holding events and outdoor exhibitions.
- Water Zone: While fully considering the surrounding urban environment, a natural landscape centered around trees and ponds as a link between the square and the forest has been created.
- Plaza Zone: It is located in the center of the park, with much space for various leisure activities. It can also serve as an evacuation area in case of any emergency.
- Forest Zone: This is a natural forest area that embodies the basic concept of the "recovering greenery" of the park. The hills and wooded areas give you a feeling of being deep in a forest.
Places of Interest
Showa Memorial Park offers a diverse range of attractions for visitors, including exhibitions, natural scenery and so on. Here are some popular spots that people usually visit.
- The Emperor Showa Memorial Hall: It showcases biological research and other materials related to Emperor Showa's love of greenery, as well as personal items and photographs of Emperor Showa and the devoted Empress.
- Flower Hill: With an area of approximately 15,000 square meters, it is the largest garden in the park. Opened in 2011 as a new area of the Showa Memorial Park, it has become an essential part of the flower season, featuring poppies in spring and cosmos in autumn. The summit provides a panoramic view of Tachikawa Station. The types of flowers vary by year and season.
- Bird Sanctuary: It is an exclusive habitat for wild birds. The staff has created nesting habitats for various creatures, such as cattails, reeds and small groves. You can observe a variety of wild birds from an observation tower nearby. Additionally, on the third Sunday of each month, there is a volunteer-led "wild bird-watching event".
- Japanese Garden Ocha: There’s a wooden Sukiya-style house with a copper plate roof called Kanfuutei where you can enjoy a formal tea ceremony. It contains a hall with a recessed alcove and a water memorial hall, available for rent and for Japanese cultural experience programs. The building integrates a wealth of traditional techniques passed down from Sukiya carpenters, who are few of Japan's remaining carpenters. Sweet treats and matcha sets are available for a fee, and there are "First Tea Room" events for a tea room experience.
- Rainbow Pool: It covers an area of 12,560 square meters, approximately 1.4 times the size of the Tokyo Dome. It is a fully equipped leisure pool with a total of 9 pools, making it one of the largest pools in the Greater Tokyo area. Furthermore, it allows multiple free re-entries to the pool on the same day. You can make use of most of the park's facilities, including a 14-kilometer cycling course, boating on a 5-hectare pond, and various sports facilities such as frisbee golf and lawn bowling.
Lastly, on the northern side of the garden, there is a 30-meter high artificial mountain covered with dense pine and oak trees. The garden's periphery consists of evergreen trees such as oak and Japanese oak, creating a unique space that shields the surrounding buildings. Unlike many historic Japanese gardens with predominantly evergreen trees, 60% of the garden here features deciduous broadleaf trees, such as maple and oak, giving it a bright feeling that fits the Musashino area. With the completion of the Japanese garden, you can now enjoy the vibrant red foliage that was previously unseen in the park.