Hikarigaoka Park is a refreshing open space in Nerima ward in Northern Tokyo. However, it is right on the border of Wako City, literally a two minute walk on the west side. The park is also on the Tobu Tojo line that runs through central Saitama. For these two reasons the park is as frequented by Saitama-jin as it is by Tokyoites!
Hikarigaoka Park is one of the handful of places you can enjoy Autumn leaves in an urban sprawl of Tokyo. The park is located in the middle of a very built up residential area with apartment blocks and public facilities surrounding it. It is much loved and much used by locals, not just for fresh air, scenery and leisurely walks, but for sports and events too.
Sports at Hikarigaoka Park
I visit Hikarigaoka with my family annually in November. I’d like to say we go for the sole purpose of viewing the Autumn leaves, but the truth is that it is just a bonus for our real purpose for visiting there. Every year my husband and my kids represent Genseiryu Butokukai and participate in a Karate tournament in the large gymnasium on the grounds. (Please do shout out if you or your family are also karate players!)
The gymnasium is just one of the sporting facilities on the grounds of Hikarigaoka park. Within it there is the large gym hall with viewing area. The hall can be used for events such as Karate tournaments or any sport that requires a court. The flooring is marked out to facilitate several indoor sports. The building also houses an indoor swimming pool, a training room and other smaller multipurpose rooms. There are plenty of changing rooms, toilets, rest areas and vending machines too.
Outdoors the park also has a great emphasis on sport. There are several sporting facilities in the park and they also organise sporting events such as the Hikarigaoka Road Race on the second Sunday of November (usually). The road race is a number of different races held together including a half marathon and 10k run.
Other outdoor sporting facilities include:
- Athletic Track
- Basketball hoops
- Tennis Courts
Other attractions in Hikarigaoka Park
- Bird Sanctuary
- Statues and art
- Camping and Barbecue Area
- Shop and bakery (with seating area)
- Insect fields
- Cherry Blossoms
- Gingko Trees (see Autumn section below events)
Events at Hikarigaoka Park
The park has flea markets so regularly that there is a fixed area for them close to the gymnasium. There are permanent booths and festival lanterns set up in the area. In September the park hosts the Lohas Festa. In May there is a spring festival. Throughout the year several sporting and other events are held in the park or the gymnasium.
Autumn in Hikarigaoka Park
The park is particularly renowned for its gingko trees, which are absolutely stunning. The park has approximately 17000 trees and shrubbery so as you can imagine there are many other colours to enjoy in the park during the autumn season. In my experience the second weekend of November is when you can see the pinks, reds and yellows (non Ginkgo tree). However, this year those trees were already darkened or bare by that time.
The gingko trees typically bloom the second week in November and the “golden tunnel” is usually visible by the end of that week and into the third week of November. The golden tunnel refers to the avenue of gingko trees when they have started to shed their leaves. Before the trees go bare and they have created a blanket of “gold” below, it gives the effect of a golden tunnel. This year the autumn leaves started and finished early. The gingko trees were picture perfect on Sunday the 11th, a week earlier than normal.
**In spring, the cherry blossoms are meant to be very attractive in this park. I have personally not seen them yet.
Hikarigaoka Park offers an escape from the built up suburban jungle surrounding it. With so many sports, events and attractions it is easy to while away half a day or more at this picturesque park lush with nature.
Hikarigaoka Park Access
By train: It is about an eight minute walk from Hikarigaoka Station on the Oedo line or a 15 minute walk from Narimasu on the Tobu-Tojo line from Saitama. The Fukutoshin Line also originates in Saitama Prefecture and stops at Chikatetsu Narimasu station which is about a 15 minute walk from the park.
By car: Close to the last exit on the Kanetsu expressway coming from Saitama “Nerima” exit. There is charged parking beside the gymnasium. It costs about 2,200 yen for the day.