History of Hibiya Park
Hibiya Park is located in Chiyoda Ward, the heart of Tokyo, and is over 110 years old. Chiyoda Ward is known as a business, economic and political center and is known for its strong public image. Thanks to its rich nature, Hibiya Park in such a city is a favorite place for people to relax and relieve themselves from the fatigue of work and the daily grind.
In the Edo period, it was the residence of feudal lords, but in the Meiji period it was transformed into an army training ground and then developed as an urban remodeling project. As the first municipal park in Tokyo, the park was highly idealistic, and eventually opened in June 1903 as Japan’s first modern Western-style park.
Dedication to the Hibiya park is evident in the small music hall, the first flowerbed, and the ginkgo-lined pathway, as well as in the beauty of its symbolic architecture and the natural changes in the park’s landscape.
The first flowerbed and pelican fountain
The Pelican Fountain, where the first flowerbed is located, has two pelicans spouting water, facing each other. This is one of the most humorous and elegant photo opportunities here. The first flowerbed, a Western-style flowerbed with a geometric pattern, is a symbol of Hibiya Park. There are benches around it, so it’s a good place to take a break.
Grand fountain and fountain square
Located just off Hibiya Gate, the Grand Fountain is a must-see spot if you’re in Hibiya Park. You can see the fountain every day from 8am to 9pm, and at night it’s lit up to create a magical atmosphere. Depending on the season, blue flowers bloom around the area, adding a touch of glamour. The pattern of the fountains varies, and even if you just stare at them for a while, you’ll feel a sense of healing. You will want to take a picture of combination of three elements, which are the fountain, nature and the blue sky, in a landscape.
Hibiya Mitsuke site and Shinji-ike (heart-shaped pond)
The Hibiya Mitsuke Ruins are the precious remains of the Edo-period (1603-1868) in Hibiya Park. Since it was originally the residence of feudal lords, a gate was built for security purposes. Nowadays, the remains of a stone wall and a mound remain as part of the gate. The nearby Shinji-ike (heart pond) looks like a broken Chinese character for “heart” when seen from above, and is called Shinji-ike. This is one of the traditional Japanese garden techniques common from the Kamakura to Muromachi periods.
Get close to the ginkgo tree, which stands out among the trees in Hibiya Park, and you’ll feel the power of nature’s life-energy radiating from it. The reason it’s called the ‘Necked ginkgo’ is due to an episode by Dr. Shizuroku Honda, the creator of Hibiya Park. When ginkgo trees were being cut down to make way for a road expansion, Dr. Honda declared that he would allow them to be transplanted over the neck as well, and he succeeded in transplanting a large tree, which was said to be very difficult to do. This event led to the name “Necked Ginkgo” and it has grown into a huge tree of estimated age 350 years.
As you head towards the cloud-shaped pond, you will see copper cranes looking up to the sky and spreading their wings. Surrounded by trees, the lush greenery reflects off the surface of the pond, giving it a Japanese feel. It’s the best spot to enjoy the fresh greenery of summer, the cherry blossoms of spring, and the red leaves of ginkgo and maple trees in autumn.
You can download English and Chinese versions of the Hibiya Park Visitor’s Guide Book on the official website. It’s a good idea to mark your interests beforehand, so you can explore Hibiya Park more smoothly.