The park is part of the Tokyo Midtown shopping complex right next to Roppongi station. This might seem like a lively, busy place but the park offers a pocket of peace. Once you enter you are shrouded by trees. The park has done its best to create a sandbox, keeping the city out of the park. If you look around you all you can see is nature. The park is perched on a hill, giving the back a view that is free of towering office buildings. It really feels like you are in a forested area, or at least not Tokyo.
Great for the kids
Many couples have to worry about kids when they are planning their dates, but this park has you covered. Whilst Roppongi has a reputation for being more adult orientated this park is far enough away from the bars and clubs to be safe and has a wide range of activities to keep young ones entertained.
As well as the wide open spaces to run around in there are slides, swings and climbing frames to play on. Some for bigger kids, some for toddlers and infants. There is also a basket ball hoop and a tiny water jet section that toddlers particularity enjoy. Plenty of places to sit on the short grass means that this is the ideal setting for a family picnic.
Serene and zen
Whilst a section of the park is dedicated to kids a much larger portion is dedicated to its water features. The park doesn’t have anything as ostentatious as a fountain, but instead a small stream that leads to an artificial lake. You can follow the stream around the park and even cross a tiny bridge that overlooks an even tinier waterfall.
The lake is large and still as photograph. Plants and rocks decorate the sides of it making it the perfect home for the turtles who reside there. A wooden deck and a seating area are located on the far side of the water so that you can sit and look out at it for as long as you desire. If you are lucky you might see local artists sketching or painting the lake to hone their skills.
Art and design
Past the lake and play area is another section of the park that houses art installation. The pieces are marvellous to look at especially on a sunny day. Some you can interact with and touch, others are just to be observed. All of them are abstract sculptures that add a sense of mystery to the park.
Along with these installations is a innovative design and technology museum, 21-21 Design Sight. This museum has a shop that is open to the public where you can buy cool and stylised products. Down stairs is an art gallery that runs beneath the park. You have to pay to see the current exhibits but the gift shop its self is quirky and interesting.
A long history
The gardens name come from the large amount of cypress trees, also know as “Hinoki” in Japanese. The whole park used to be a garden for the Azabu villa that belonged to the powerful and illustrious Mori family. Over time Tokyo changed and the villa is no longer there but the gardens have remained, transforming into Hinokicho Park. For generations people came to this spot to admire its view of old Tokyo. Being perched on a hill you can get a good vantage point to look out upon the city. The view is now shrouded by skyscrapers the park was deemed too beautiful to demolish and thus has a lot of the original plants and features from when it was the gardens of the Mori clan’s villa.
Every year people travel from all over Tokyo and beyond to watch the leaves in Hinokicho Park change. The park has cherry blossom trees that turn pink in the spring time, but what really catches the eye is when the leaves turn the golden brown of autumn.
The tranquil nature of the park compliments the changing of the season. You and you partner can stroll through the park, crisp leaves crunching under foot as you look up at the oranges, browns and golds above. When the sun hits the lake you can see the full spectrum of autumnal colours reflected back at you. It is the perfect spot for autumn lovers.
The starlight garden
The park is beautiful all year round. Not wanting to appear sparse in the winter the park authority formulated a plan to make the park beautiful and popular even when the leaves have fallen from the trees.
The Starlight garden is a Christmas installation that is run through the park. All of the trees are lit up like the night sky. It’s a classic date spot for couples as strolling together through the lit up park is like taking a walk among that stars. The tiny balls of white light sparkle around paths, lighting up your lovers face in way that is guaranteed to remind you why you fell in love in the first place.
Hinokicho Park is a great date spot no matter the season and a welcome break from the hustle and bustle of city life. You can stroll through the tress, relax at the lake, or stretch out on the big grass lawns. It’s a day trip to suit anyone.