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Zenpukuji River and Its Parks

  • Perhaps Tokyo is not often thought of as a city of rivers—or perhaps it’s thought of as a city of few rivers: the Arakawa, of course, and the Sumida River, and perhaps the Tama River, on the western edge of the city, maybe even the Kanda River and its tributaries. In fact, the city is crisscrossed by a network of smaller waterways, although many now flow beneath our feet, buried under concrete. The Zenpukuji River, a tributary of the larger Kanda River, is one of the city’s rivers that has escaped being full entombed in concrete, and the green spaces along its length provides a leafy respite in the heart of Tokyo.

    Zenpukuji River and Its Parks

    Zenpukuji River and Its Parks

    Just north of the Chuo Line’s Nishi-Ogikubo Station, Zenpukuji Park is home to Zenpukuji Pond. The park occupies a neighborhood in the western quadrant of the city which is balanced between yuppie bohemian quarters like Nishi-Ogikubo, Kichijoji and Koenji, and more suburban Musashino City. Like many of the surviving ponds in the city, this one was fed by a local spring that supported nearby settlements in the Edo period (1603-1868). It became a park in the early 1960s and has developed into one of the city’s more scenic spots, its foliage and flora stunning in any season.

    Zenpukuji River and Its Parks

    Zenpukuji River and Its Parks

    During the annual cherry blossom season when city residents stake out a patch of ground to spread a tarp or towel and pass early summer afternoons and strong liquor under the otherworldly sakura flowers, the manicured fringes of Zenpukuji Pond are a popular spot. Zenpukuji feels a world away from the more hectic hanami scenes that visit controlled chaos upon Yoyogi and Ueno Park. Further downstream, the Zenpukuji River Green Space and Wadabori Park are both fine spots for sakura viewing.

    Zenpukuji River and Its Parks

    Zenpukuji River and Its Parks

    The Zenpukuji River forms a network of parks and green space that twists and turns through the city. Along its length, cyclists ride scenic paths. Bike sharing schemes are slowly expanding in Tokyo, but Kichijoji Station has a handful of rental operations at its north exit. Even without a bike, the route along the river is a great walk, offering many potential detours into interesting West Tokyo neighborhoods.

    Zenpukuji River and Its Parks

    Zenpukuji River and Its Parks

    Along the river there are dozens of parks of all shapes, sizes and utilities. They range from pocket parks abutting the river to sports parks with baseball diamonds and tennis courts, as well as more extensive parks, like Wadabori Park which has its own large pond and a pool for fishing. For amateur ornithologists, the area around Hakusan Maebashi has been known to attract rare birds of prey, along with more pedestrian moorhens, grebes and ducks.

    Zenpukuji River and Its Parks

    Zenpukuji River and Its Parks

    Extending across West Tokyo, there are many spots to begin a trip up- or downstream, but perhaps Zenpukuji Park and its pond is the best place to start. Exiting Nishi-Ogikubo Station on the Chuo Line, one can simply walk due north until they hit the river, and then track upstream. To access Wadabori Park and the green spaces downstream from Zenpukuji Park, Honancho Station on Tokyo Metro’s Marunouchi Line will be the best option.

    Toritu Zempukuji Park
    Address
    Tokyo Met. Suginami-ku Zempukuji 3-chome
    Phone
    善福寺川緑地の桜
    Address
    東京都杉並区成田西
    Phone
    0333134247
    Nishi-Ogikubo
    Address
    Tokyo Suginami-ku Nishiogiminami 3-chome
    Phone
    Tokyotoritsuwadahori Park
    Address
    Tokyo Suginami-ku Omiya 2Chome26
    Phone
    0333134247
  • Kichijoji
    Address
    Tokyo Musashinoshi Kichijoujiminamichou 2-chome
    Phone
    Honancho
    Address
    Tokyo Suginami-ku Hounan 2-chome
    Phone
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