Showa Memorial Park – An Emperor’s gift to Tokyo

If you want to photograph flowers in Tokyo, go to Showa Memorial Park! Many people call it the best in the city. I don’t know about that, but I know it gets high points on Japanese social media. It is a Mecca for nature photographers.

It’s a big park. Showa Memorial is over 180 hectares.  That makes it much bigger than Shinjuku Gyoen. And that is why it is in Tachikawa; such a space isn’t available in the inner-city area. I wonder how much time you’d need to see it all?

You could rent one of the park’s bicycles. They cost 410 yen for adults, and 260 yen for kids, and use designated roads for three hours. Or you could even take the park (wheeled) train that costs 310 yen. They are convenient to use, but you’d be skipping a lot of stuff if you didn’t walk and take in everything at a slow pace. And it is hard to take pictures while on a moving bike!

For me, photography is what it is all about. There are many flowers. Showa Memorial is a flower lover’s paradise. Spring is very popular with cherry blossoms, roses, tulips, poppies, and azaleas. But, autumn in the park is exceptional too when the leaves of the ginkgo trees turn yellow. And you’ll find a bonsai museum as well. A macro lens is handy in this place.

There is so much more you can do with a camera. Showa Memorial is not only about flowers. It has an enormous (11 hectares) field with a large children’s play.  In one corner, are slides and bouncing domes. If you have kids and want some outdoor photos, this is a great place to go, and it is fun!

On the park’s lake, you can rent row and paddle boats. And there is a water park, that is open from July to September. Some of the attractions need extra, so please check the website. There are cafes and kiosks throughout the park if you need food or a drink. BBQs are available too.

Do you need pictures of an agricultural village from the early part of the Showa Emperor’s reign? You can do that at Komorebi Model Village. Depending on the season, you might get pictures of people making silk or grinding rice. One time I was there, they had a fantastic Children’s Day exhibit.

Lastly, there is a big Japanese garden. It is immaculate and has a huge pond with a traditional bridge. Once again, a fabulous place for photos.

A brief history of Showa Memorial Park

  • The grounds were a Japanese military airbase during the war.  
  • During the postwar period, the base housed American forces.
  • America returned it to Japan in 1977.  
  • In 1983, to celebrate fifty years of the Showa Emperor’s reign, the land became a park.   
  • The JGSDF operates on a part of the grounds.

Why can you photograph at Showa Memorial Park?

  • Flowers for every season (2022 tulip photos here)
  • To practice model photography
  • Japanese garden
  • Replica of a (small) Japanese village
  • Lots of ponds and rolling hills
  • Bonsai Museum

Photography tips

  • Summer in Japan has become rather brutal over recent years. If you go in that season, take a hat and keep hydrated.
  • You can use tripods in most areas.

When is the best season for photography at Showa Memorial Park?

  • I would pick autumn. When the ginkgo trees bloom, the park is truly magnificent. Under brilliant blue skies, the yellow leaves are beautiful. The park is one of the most beautiful places in Tokyo during that season.
  • Of course, spring is great too. That season has so many flowers. Oh, you have so many choices. Maybe I’ll change my mind tomorrow!

Photo spots near Showa Memorial Park

For these places, you will need to catch another train:

Park details

See the location, admission costs, and opening hours on the official website.

Wrapping up

Showa Memorial Park is an excellent place for nature photography in Tokyo. You could spend a whole day, or more there, with a camera. And each season has something different to offer.

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