Yoyogi Park – a photography guide

Dogs under cherry blossoms

Yoyogi Park is between ultra-popular Harajuku and Shibuya. Every season there is different. But, the differences are far more pronounced than at any other park in Tokyo. It offers a lot to photographers in unexpected ways.

On warm days, Yoyogi Koen (to use the Japanese) is crowded. People have picnics all over it. Couples leisurely chat on benches. Others are playing musical instruments or enjoying some game.

People resting under yellow tree leaves in autumn

People practicing dance or yoga there isn’t rare. You’ll see all kinds of things. Photographers with models are a common sight. It’s a fun place.

Spring has the most to offer with its cherry blossoms.    You’ll find them sprinkled throughout the park.  Masses of people come to see them. And the trees are very good!

White tulips
Spring tulips.

Autumn is close behind with its fabulous red and gold leaves. It’s a great time of year for a romantic walk. I’d have to admit this season might be the most beautiful there!

Even winter is great. On the coldest days, Yoyogi Park is lonely and empty. But I find that attractive. I love the wide spaces devoid of people.

People playing with soap bubble maker

In the weeks leading to Christmas, there is often an illumination event. That brightens things up. It brings people back to the park on cold nights.

I would say summer is my least favorite. It can be very green, which is rather drab. The park can also be brutally hot and humid in that season.

Girls taking model photos in autumn
Yoyogi Park is a popular place for models.

You wouldn’t call Yoyogi a great flower park.  I doubt many go there to enjoy them as they would with, say, Showa Memorial Park.  They are there, but other places are better. Having said that, the cherry blossoms are great.

Yoyogi is a people park. They go there to relax or have some fun. It has space for them to do what they want. There is room to interact with others.

A brief history of Yoyogi Park

  • During the Edo period, several daimyos had homes in the area. It was only a few kilometers from Edo Castle (now the Imperial Palace), so it was in a very convenient place. History says that rice fields covered much of the area.
  • In the Meiji period, the military used it as a drill ground. It was ideal for this purpose as the imperial estates were nearby. After World War II, the occupation forces took over the Yoyogi area.  
  • American forces occupied the grounds from 1947. A complex of 800 houses was built for the families. It was named Washington Heights.
  • Tokyo was the host of the 1964 summer Olympic games. The Olympic Village replaced Washington Heights. American forces in the area moved to Chofu. 
  • Between 1966 and 1971, Yoyogi Park was created. It opened in 1967, even though it wasn’t finished until the early seventies.
People walking over wooden bridge past fountain pond

Why do photographers like Yoyogi Park?

  • People on bicycles (they rent them)
  • Buskers
  • Cherry blossoms (2023 photos here)
  • Christmas lights in December
  • Dogs (there is a dog run)
  • Festivals throughout the year (Tokyo Pride, food, and various international events)
  • People watching
  • Rockabilly dancers (at the Harajuku entrance)
  • Sports (there are rentable spaces for basketball and soccer)
  • Seasonal flowers
Crowded pool area Yoyogi Park

Photography tips

Yoyogi Park has a rose garden, but I don’t bother with it much. It has many flowers, but there is no barrier between them and the public. That leads to them getting crushed and often damaged early in the season, which is a real pity.

People picnicking on Yoyogi Park pond shore

Other photo spots near Yoyogi Park

Yoyogi Park details

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

Wrapping up

Yoyogi Park is excellent. It is a people place. They have more to offer the photographer than the park itself. Walk around, and you should find interesting photos. The best idea would be to go in spring when the cherry blossoms bloom.

Yoyogi Park fountain and cherry blossoms

I’ll be dropping into Yoyogi Koen more regularly from now. If possible, I’d like to keep the photographs on this page fresh. Let’s see how it goes. Please leave your questions and comments below.

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