Kitanomaru Park – great for spring & autumn photos

Kitanomaru Park has strong ties to Tokyo’s Imperial Palace. So it’s a little strange it took me so long to get there. Laugh if you will! Still, it was good to photograph it finally. It wasn’t exactly what I expected. I didn’t find as much as I wanted there.

First, I made a mistake visiting it for the first time in the summer. The park is almost a sea of green. I didn’t find it very attractive, except for the hydrangeas. The pond in the middle looked nice, though. Other than that, I couldn’t find many options for photographs.

To experience the park at its best, go in autumn or spring. During those seasons, there are more flowers throughout the grounds. Chidorigafuchi Green Way, over the moat, is famous for its cherry blossoms in spring. Autumn is good too when the tree leaves change color.

This is why it is pleasant for walks or jogging. There are even some winding paths in the park and one of the old Edo-era gates to explore. And then there are the museums. But there isn’t much for photography.

The most interesting subject is a little waterfall. It has a drop of about three meters. It makes for good long exposures.

Kitanomaru Park Shigeru Yoshida statue
Shigeru Yoshida's statue.

A brief history of Kitanomaru Park

  • The park was originally in the northeastern part of Edo Castle.  And its name was Kitanomaru.  Simple, isn’t it?
  • Tokugawa family members used it as a medicinal garden and a residential compound. When Imperial power returned, it was a base for the Imperial Guard.
  • After World War II, most buildings were removed. Only the Meiji period headquarters (erected in 1910) remained. That became home to the Craft Gallery. In 1969, the park opened to the public to commemorate the sixtieth birthday of the Showa Emperor.
Budokan roof
The roof of the Budokan.

What can you photograph at Kitanomaru park?

  • Cherry blossoms (in spring)
  • Nippon Budokan
  • park grounds (woods, waterfalls, pond, etc.)
  • Science Museum (unfortunately, not free)
  • Shigeru Yoshida (a former Japanese Prime Minister) statue
  • It’s a great place to practice outdoor model photography.

Tips for photography at the park

There isn’t much to say, except summer is hard work. The park has some old walls and gates, but no sweeping landscapes or cityscapes. Your options are limited. Creativity is needed. Spring and autumn will offer much more.

Kitanomaru Park details

See the park’s location and opening hours on the official website.

Photo spots near Kitanomaru Park

Wrapping Up

Kitanomaru Park isn’t a must-see for photographers. It seems more suited to picnics and resting by the pond during the hotter months. For pictures, spring and autumn are best with their cherry blossoms and ginkgos.

But, it does work for particular purposes, like model photography. I have seen a lot of people there doing that. Kitanomaru doesn’t attract huge amounts of people. That means you’ll have a lot of space. You’ll be able to do what you want.

I wouldn’t make a special trip to Kitanomaru. It’s not a bad park, but it doesn’t rank with others in Tokyo like Shinjuku Gyoen or Showa Memorial. Those have far more to offer. But, if you were in the area during spring or autumn, drop in and see what you can find.

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