Yoyogi Park – Your Full Guide
Central, sprawling and always interesting, Yoyogi Park is one of Tokyo's best features. Before you arrive, be sure to read our full guide, right here.
Yoyogi Park (代々木公園 Yoyogi Koen, lit. park of the trees of generations) is one of the biggest and most central parks in Tokyo. It is a particularly popular Tokyo destination for its lenient attitude towards whatever people choose to do in it, from drinking and partying to sports and yoga. Particularly lively on Sundays, it is a gathering place for Japanese rockabillies, jugglers, comedians, drummers, dance classes, martial arts clubs, cosplay fans and many others besides.
More on parks in Tokyo? Tokyo Parks and Gardens Guide
About Yoyogi Park
In 1910, the land that is today Yoyogi Park was the take-off site for Japan’s first powered aircraft. Later, the area was used as an army parade ground and in 1945 the US army used it to house military personnel.
The Olympics in 1964 brought the next big change for Yoyogi Park, transforming it into the athlete village and the site of the Yoyogi National Gymnasium which hosted the swimming and diving events. Only in 1967 was the area designated as a public park for leisure activities.
Tokyo city has had several plans to restructure and rebuild Yoyogi Park over the years, particularly in light of the city’s two Olympic bids. Turned down for the 2016 games but accepted for 2020, the current plan is to use Yoyogi National Gymnasium as the venue for handball events.
In 2014 there was an outbreak of Dengue fever in Tokyo, originating in Yoyogi Park. It was the largest outbreak of the sickness in a century with dozens of reported cases. To stem further infection, the park was closed to the public in September and reopened once the situation had been brought under control in October.
Yoyogi Park Access
Access to Yoyogi Park is easiest from JR Harajuku Station, Yoyogi-Koen Station, Yoyogi-Hachiman Station or Meijijingu-Mae Station, which between them cover many of Tokyo’s major lines, including the JR Yamanote Line, Odakyu Line, Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line and the Tokyo Metro Fukutoshin Line. All stations take you within five minutes of the park on foot, although Meijijingu-Mae Station is a bit farther down Omotesando, so you’ll need to walk around 10 minutes from there (exit number 5).
The park is adjacent to Harajuku, the home of many of Tokyo’s most interesting subcultures, as well as Omotesando, a high-class shopping and dining district. For more info, see our articles below:
open 24 hours
please dispose of garbage / follow the rules,
bicycle path may be closed in bad weather
¥ free entry
Overview Yoyogi Park
Yoyogi Park is a well-landscaped area of open spaces; walking, running and cycle paths; picnic areas and public sports courts. Although pretty relaxed, be aware, however, that fires, BBQs, fireworks and other such activities are prohibited. Smoking is also prohibited, except in especially designated smoking areas. This rule, however, is largely ignored. Be sure to be considerate of your surroundings and do not leave any garbage behind.
Spanning an impressive 540,529 square meters, visitors mainly come to the park to relax, take a stroll or practice a hobby. Given its size and central location, Yoyogi Park is the perfect place to escape the pace of the city for a short while
Yoyogi Park is popular with flower lovers, with the small rose garden as a particular highlight. This is just one interest among many which are indulged in the park, however, being as it is a hub for the city’s hobbyists of all varieties.
People rehearsing for plays, dancing, drumming, meditating or working out, anything goes in Yoyogi Park. Make sure to visit the park on a Sunday for the full effect. The above image shows a rockabilly gang, famous for their fashion choices and enthusiastic dancing.
There are good toilet facilities throughout the park. The toilets are stone and wood buildings found alongside the walkways as shown in the map above. With no toilet paper or soap, be sure to bring your own if you’re planning on staying a while.
Snacks and Drinks
There are vending machines placed strategically around the park, although they are not shown on the maps. Keep your eyes peeled and you can’t miss them. There are also two refreshment kiosks, one at the Harajuku entrance, and one toward the ‘back’ of the park toward Shibuya. They both have early closing times, though, and may not sell what you’re looking for.
We recommend buying all your supplies (especially food) outside the park if you’re planning to stay until later in the afternoon or night. The Family Mart convenience store here is the closest and also has an ATM that takes international cards.
Yoyogi includes several dog runs (separated by weight for your pet’s safety), a bird sanctuary, an observation deck, a police box, soccer and athletic fields (by the gymnasium) and a stage.
There are a few good spots to grab some food around Yoyogi Park. The main place you’ll find snacks and hot food is at the entrance. There is usually a yakisoba (焼きそば fried noodles in soy sauce with veggies) and takoyaki (たこ焼き octopus fried in dough on a stick) stand where you can buy some basic drinks as well. There is also a small kiosk with souvenirs and some equipment at the entrance that sells soft drinks and ice cream (they have seasonal flavors like cherry blossom as well!).
Besides that, a few more food stands usually set up shop beside the rose garden toward the bridge. There you’ll also find hot food such as yakisoba, takoyaki, yakitori (焼き鳥 bbq chicken on a stick), rice, hotdogs, corn dogs and so forth.
One of the best options is to head to the festival ground (event ground) on the other side of the main road. Most weekends a different festival is held here, always with delicious regional food.
There are quite a few events held in and around Yoyogi Park year round. Many of these take place in the events space and are dedicated to the culture of different parts of the world. Find food, drink and performances from all over the globe.
Yoyogi Park is also a great place to either host your own event or take part in an unofficial gathering organized via Facebook, Meetup or something similar. This can be a great way to make some new friends or try out something new.
Autumn is a popular season for the park as the Gingko trees turn a wonderful gold.
Hanami – Cherry Blossom Viewing (Spring)
Hanami (flower viewing – particularly cherry blossoms) season is one big party in Japan; everybody gathering under the blossoming trees, picnicking and having fun. Although Yoyogi is not the most famous spot for hanami, the park’s free entry and impressive volume of cherry trees make it popular anyway.
Harajuku Omotesando Genki Matsuri Super Yosakoi
This fabulous festival is known particularly for its great name. Long name aside, the festival is a burst of color, culture and history. Based upon an old traditional dance called Awa Odori, today, the event has warped into a mammoth dance contest, with around 100 teams and 5000 dancers competing to be crowned the greatest. Taking place in Harajuku, Omotesando and spreading out into Yoyogi Park, this is not an event to miss.
If you’re in Tokyo or around Yoyogi in summer, definitely check the official page for dates and times.