Ageo Maruyama park is frequently listed in Saitama’s top 3 list of family parks. It is personally one of my favorites. I love that although the park is big, it isn’t massive. Furthermore, there is so much to do and see that you can spend a full day there. Moreover, it is very picturesque throughout the year. It is an ideal park for cherry blossom viewing, particularly with children. In addition, the autumn leaves and, in summer, the iris attract media attention and draw photographers and sightseers from not only Saitama, but further afield too. Best of all; the facilities and attractions in the park, even the zoo corner, are completely free.
The most recent TV appearance for the park was on June 7th 2021 on NHK, Japan’s solo public broadcaster. They reported on the iris live from the park. It prompted me to completely revitalize the original 2012 post on this blog and republish it as “new”. Apologies that some of the photos are from the original 2012 post and the quality isn’t great. I rarely brought my camera with me back in the day, with four kids under five at the time. Moreover, the few photos that I did get to take were hurried jobs with an old flip phone, remember those!? I digress! Since the NHK live broadcast the iris have peaked, but there are still some holding on. Moreover, the hydrangea have come into full bloom. If you are looking for somewhere to see iris and hydrangea together, Ageo Maruyama Park is a very good option.
Ageo Maruyama Park
- Maruyama Park through the seasons
Ageo Maruyama Park is a sprawling 15 hectares park in suburban Ageo City. Among the several features of the park are three playgrounds. One is quite small with just a cement slide, climbing wall and sandpit, but the other two are large and includes an athletic playground. What I particularly like about this park is that the seasonal scenery is integrated nicely with the play areas. The kids get to play while I get to enjoy the cherry blossoms, hydrangea, autumn leaves etc. When my kids were younger I appreciated the swings that with back and stomach support for toddlers, which is a rarity in this area of Saitama. Another benefit for families with young children is that the (free) parking is off road and right beside the toddler friendly playground.
- Lake, pond and other water features including a wading river with shade. It is shallow and suitable for toddlers to play in.
- A small “zoo” with monkeys, goats, rabbits, Meerkat and guinea pigs. You can hold the latter (guinea pigs) during the free petting hour. The petting hour has been temporarily suspended during the pandemic.
- Main playground with toddler friendly equipment and a 23 meter roller slide.
- Adventure playground.
- Smaller playground with climbing wall, large cement slide and sandpit.
- Fishing – designated area, bring your own rods.
- Firefly dome – the fireflies are generally visible mid July.
- Ageo Observatory – currently closed due to the pandemic. In a “normal year” they have stargazing events.
- Nature Education Hall with a vegetable market, both are closed indefinitely due to the pandemic
- BBQ Area (new and improved area since around 2019)
- Seasonal blooms including an iris garden, cherry blossom trees and stunning autumn leaves
- Open lawn space for picnicking and / or playing
- Exercise open space – gravel area, ground golf and gateball require permission
Maruyama Park through the seasons
There are some really beautiful plum blossoms in the park. You can see them in a couple of places, but the main concentration of them is by the small zoo in the park. They typically bloom in February. You can see deadnettle in February too, along the river embankments.
It is very pretty in the Spring, with all the different cherry blossoms. The first to bloom are the kawazuzakura which bloom around the end of February. Furthermore, there is a whole area of an early blooming cherry blossom (since around 2014), by the main playground. That particular variety bloom around early March. The park has several other varieties of sakura. It is a very popular place to do “Hanami”, flower viewing picnic, with (or without) children.
In summer the wading streams, fireflies and beetles draw families from afar. You can see the fireflies in July. There is normally a viewing event, but it may not be able to go ahead in 2021. Furthermore, the iris and hydrangea have become quite famous and attract photographers, Instagrammers and cosplayers. They normally have an iris festival from the end of May to around mid June, but due to the pandemic it was cancelled in both 2020 and 2021.
Water play in 2022
The water play area / wading river is open in 2022. This wading river is actually open all year round. However, it will close for cleaning and disinfecting from June 14th to 16th, July 12th to 14th, August 23rd to 25th and September 13th to 15th. During the summer months you can use it between 9 am and 5 pm. In winter it is off limits after 3 pm. Other water play areas open in 2022.
In Autumn the photographers come back again to capture the leaves vibrant colors. The best time for the leaves is generally November. In early winter, you can collect acorns. On a rainy day you can enjoy free access to the nature education hall.
- ☆Toilets in 5 different locations, of which 4 are multipurpose toilets with changing mat
- ☆Water drinking fountains
- ☆Taps for washing your feet beside the wading river and ones for washing your hands in the petting zoo area
- ☆A small shop that is open on weekends and holidays
- ☆Barbecue area with its own management facility building, barbecue pits, log cabins, food preparation and washing up areas. However, you have to have someone in your party that either lives, works or goes to school in the city to register to book their excellent BBQ area.
- ☆Vending machines in at least 3 different locations.
Hours and other information
- The park is open permanently
- The zoo corner is open from 9am to 4pm; closed on Tuesdays
- Petting hour is Wednesday through Sunday from 10 to 11am and 13.30 to 14.30 on Saturdays and holidays. In Winter (Dec through Feb) it is from 13.30 to 14.30 Wednesday through Sunday.
- Free Parking for 500 cars
- During the pandemic you are required to wear a mask to the park, even outdoors
Address: 3326 Hirakata, Ageo, Saitama Prefecture, Japan
Buses go from JR Ageo Station West exit. There is a bus bound for Maruyama Park or you can get one bound for the rehabilitation center and get off at the Maruyama Park bus stop. Furthermore, there is also a city loop bus that stops at both the Nature Learning Center and the south exit of the park.
There are four different car parks. The south exit car park beside the main playground is the largest. For the hydrangea and iris the most convenient car parks are the two on the North of the park. Parking lot closes at 8 pm.
There is now also an official English language web page for the park