Even within the bustling city of Tokyo’s 23 wards, there is a large park where you can enjoy the seasonal flora and fauna, a lush forest atmosphere, and riverside scenery. It is the Tokyo Metropolitan Mizumoto Park, located in Katsushika Ward in the eastern part of Tokyo, bordering Saitama Prefecture (Misato City).
The wetland park is known as one of the largest in Tokyo. During the cherry blossom and Japanese iris season, the park is crowded with visitors. In this urban oasis, you’re sure to find a way to spend time that suits you: Whether you want to relax and enjoy nature, or have fun with your family and friends at the central plaza or the barbecue area.
The Riverbed Became Water Storage Facility, Then a Park
The area used to be a riverbed of the old Tone River. Since it was reclaimed in the Edo period, it had been managed as a water storage facility called ‘koai-dame’, to store water for cultivation.
It opened as Mizumoto Park in 1965. Large and small waterways drawn from koai-dame run through the park, creating a riverside landscape. Aquatic plants such as Japanese iris, water lily, and East Asian yellow water-lily can be seen here, completing the charm of the riverside park.
The park’s forests, wetlands, and waterways are close to a natural state. It is known as a ‘paradise’ for wild birds and is a famous bird-watching spot.
Depending on the season, you can see a variety of birds, such as black-headed gulls, kingfishers, blue herons, spot billed ducks, and starlings.
There are also six observation huts in the area for bird lovers.
In addition, wild birds fly close to the Mizumoto Bridge in the center of the park. The area around the bridge has a clear view, so you can walk around looking for wild birds.
Japanese Iris Garden
Near the Mizumoto Bridge, next to the water lily pond, there is the largest Japanese iris garden in Tokyo, with 200,000 blooming irises of about 100 varieties.
There are 14 iris fields, both large and small, and the larger ones are equipped with wooden paths and viewing decks. You can stroll through the fields and admire the pretty flowers up close.
The Iris Festival is held from the beginning to the end of June, when the flowers are at their best, and the park is crowded with many visitors.
This is one of the largest forests in the metropolitan parks, with about 1,500 Metasequoia trees, known as living fossils, growing in clusters.
The Metasequoia trees are about 20 meters tall, and when you look it up from below, it seems as if they stretch forever into the sky.
When the entire forest turns orange in autumn, the scenery is especially breathtaking. It’s very popular as a photo spot. On the other hand, in the winter the scenery changes dramatically, as the blue sky spreads out between the branches where the leaves had fallen.
Prickly Water Lily Pond, Gonpachi Pond (Wild Floating Heart)
The prickly water lily pond, located at the site of the former fisheries experiment station, is a native habitat of the prickly water lily, a Tokyo Metropolitan Government designated natural monument. Here, visitors can enjoy the sight of the precious prickly water lilies.
It is a water plant with large leaves that spread across the water surface. From July to September, bright purple flowers bloom from spiked buds.
The Gonpachi Pond next to it is the only place in Tokyo where wild floating hearts, or asaza grow. Wild floating heart is an aquatic plant with oval leaves floating on the water surface. Its bright yellow flowers bloom from May to October. The park is open to the public when the prickly water lily is in bloom, so I recommend you to see these pretty flowers floating on water.
Central Plaza and Barbecue Area
The spacious central square, about 10 hectares in size, consists of a gently sloping grassy hill.
The grass spreads out as far as the eye can see, and you are sure to feel a sense of freedom. You can spread your arms and legs and roll around, or run around at your will.
Overlooking the central plaza, there is a barbecue area. Not only can you rent the necessary equipment at the park, but if you make a reservation, they will have food ready for you, so you can enjoy barbecue even if you go empty handed.
Reservations are required, so if you plan on barbecue, don’t forget to make one in advance.