Thanks to the longer days of summer I was able to revisit Hibiya Park after work last week, this time coming prepared as to what exactly I was going to check out. The last time I went was in spring, and made the wrong choice of just passing through it to get to the grounds of the Imperial Palace – where I did not even have the chance to stay longer as it was flocked with tourists. This time my intention was clear: get off at the Hibiya station, explore Hibiya Park, and walk all the way back to Ginza for dinner.
It was almost sunset when I got to Hibiya Park and it was not at all crowded. I read at the park’s entrance that the park was opened on June 1, 1903, as the first Western-styled park in Japan. During the Tokyo Earthquake of 1923 and the Pacific War, the park underwent renovations, but some remained as how they were back then: the areas around Shinji-ike Pond, Flower Garden #1, and Kumogata-ike Pond.
Near the entrance, I came across a German-style sunken garden surrounded by flowers of the season (roses at this time of the year). The fountain with two pelicans was a cute sight to behold. The big pond of the park gave a serene vibe, and the buildings viewed from the park’s exterior gave a contrast of modern and rustic. As I walked around the park, I hardly minded the humidity and my trickling sweat – I was too engrossed at the symphony of sounds – from the cicadas up the trees, to the sound of gleefully shrieking teenagers running to and from the Grand Fountain in the middle of the park, to the sound of speeding cars from the highways nearby. Next to the Grand Fountain was a small open air music hall – I read that regular concerts are held there on Wednesdays. Mental note to go back on a Wednesday night next time – to see the Grand Fountain lights and enjoy a concert.
Spent an hour walking around, and I’d say it’s one of the best places I’ve visited in Tokyo last week. It’s big green oases like this that I wish we can have more in my city back home. I’d gladly skip the malls for a walk around these parks.