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A photography guide to Yoyogi Park

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.

people relaxing under autumn trees

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

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.  


Spring probably has the most to offer with its cherry blossoms.    You’ll find them sprinkled throughout the park.  Masses of people come to see them.

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!

people playing with soap bubbles

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.  

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.  

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.

You wouldn’t call Yoyogi a great landscape park.  I doubt many go there to enjoy its natural beauty as they would with, say, Showa Memorial Park.  It does have that, but other places are better.

girls taking model photos at Yoyogi Park in autumn

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.   
Yoyogi Park fountain with people behind

Why do photographers like Yoyogi Park?

  • People on bicycles (they rent them)
  • Buskers
  • Christmas lights in December
  • Dogs (a dog run is there)
  • festivals throughout the year (Tokyo Pride, food, and various international events)
  • People watching
  • Sports (there are rentable spaces for basketball and soccer)
  • Seasonal flowers
  • Rockabilly dancers (at the Harajuku entrance)

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.

Yoyogi Park rose

Where is Yoyogi Park?

The park is close to Harajuku and Meiji-Jingumae ‘Harajuku’ stations, only a few minutes away.  You could also walk there from Shibuya, which takes about fifteen minutes.

Here is a map:

Admission costs

Free

Yoyogi Park fountain seen through trees

Yoyogi Park opening hours

It is open twenty-four hours a day.

Other photo spots in the area

Wrapping up

Yoyogi Park is an excellent place.  But it is a people place.  They have more to offer the photographer than the park itself.  Walk around, and you should find some interesting photos.

people walking on main path through Yoyogi Park

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. Questions and comments can be below.

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