Another place we talked about in our Cheap Entertainment In Japan! is the famous Yoyogi Park, which has many free things for visitors to do. For everyone looking to travel to this cool area, here are the top 10 things you should do in Yoyogi Park.
1. See Some Street Performers
On most days, but especially on the weekends, you can find all types of street performers entertaining all of the visitors to Yoyogi Park. I’ve personally seen bands, musicians, magicians, idols, jugglers, dancers, and more. There is no charge to enjoy the entertainment, but if you really want to support them, then leave them a tip! That is, if they will accept one.
2. Take a Picture In Front of the Torii
As you walk into the main part of Yoyogi Park, you will quickly come across massive wooden torii gates, like the one pictured above. There are actually a couple of these gates at each end of Yoyogi Park, as they are the entry gates to Meiji Jingu. The large torii you will find here are actually the largest wooden torii in the world, standing 12 meters high and over 17 meters wide. Also, the wood used to make them are over 1,500 years old! So be sure to take a picture in front of these torii, as they back a beautiful back drop.
3. Admire the Colors of the Sake Barrels
The colorful barrels you will find as you walk down the large path past the torii gate are actually sake barrels called “kazaridaru”. These colorful barrels are donated every year by sake brewers across Japan, as an offering to the gods at Meiji Jingu. The shrine will use the sake that is donated for their ceremonies and festivals. The wall of barrels changes over time, so be sure to stop by each time you visit Tokyo to take a look at the new wall!
4. Find Your Zen In Meiji Jingu
Keep walking deeper into Yoyogi Park and you will eventually come to Meiji Jingu, the most famous Shinto shrine in Japan, dedicated to the deified spirits of Emperor Meiji and his wife, Empress Shōken. Here is a short video of Meiji Jingu:
5. Be a Witness at a Traditional Shinto Wedding
Meiji Jingu is the most popular location for traditional Shinto weddings, and on weekends there can be over 15 weddings in one day! So your chances of seeing one of the wedding processions is pretty high. You can take pictures quietly and discretely while the procession is walking by, but please don’t bother the happy couple and their family on one of the most important days of their lives!
6. Stroll Through Meiji Jingu’s Garden
As you are enjoying some peace and quiet inside of Meiji Jingu, you can also stroll through the wonderful flowers you can find inside of Meiji Jungu’s Inner Gardens. If you are visiting in June, then you will see the colorful irises in full bloom. There is a small entry fee of about 500 yen ($4.50 US Dollars), but it is worth every penny.
7. Travel Back In Time With the Rockabilly Dancers
If you head towards the Yoyogi park entrance on Sunday morning, you can catch the now famous Japanese Rockabilly Dancers…well, dancing. It is like looking into the past, as the group wears the Rockabilly style of clothing from the 1950’s, and rocks out to classic rock and roll.
They have reached a level of fame that has allowed them to appear in music videos too, such as this one from Peter & Bjorn:
If you manage to see them perform, I would suggest leaving them some form of tip, since maintaining their look can be an expensive undertaken. I mean, leather boots and hair grease ain’t cheap!
8. Have Fun At A Festival
Throughout the year, Yoyogi Park is host to many, many festivals, so chances are that you will be able to join one on your trip to Japan. Just to list a few, you can find the following festivals: Okinawa; Cinco de Mayo; Tokyo Rainbow Pride; Salsa Street; Harajuku Omotesando Yosakoi; and more! The festivals are generally free to attend, and have many different types of food stalls for you to enjoy.
9. Hop A Ride On A Horse
One of the best kept secrets in Yoyogi Park is the Pony Park located inside of the Tokyo Riding Club on the Northwest Edge of the park. And though this riding club is considered the most expensive horse riding club in Japan, on Wednesdays and Thursdays from 1:45-2:30pm, small children under the age of 12 can get free pony rides!
If you are too old to ride the ponies, don’t worry, you can take part in brushing the ponies or feeding them carrots you bring with you. It is really fun enjoying such great fun with horses in the middle of a city as big as Tokyo.
10. Have a Picnic in the Park!
I’ve saved one of the best, and most obvious, activities for last. Have a picnic in Yoyogi Park! Unlike other areas in Japan, picnicking is encouraged in Yoyogi. You will often find families and young couples with picnic blankets and yummy meals on nice sunny days. You are allowed to bring food and drinks into the picnic areas of the park, but you have to be sure to clean-up any trash you make. What is cooler than traveling around the world, to one of the coolest cities, and enjoying a nice Onigiri ball in the middle of the park.
How To Get There
Getting to Yoyogi Park is very easy, as you just have to hop-on the JR Yamanote Line train and get off at Harajuku Station. From there, just follow the signs to Yoyogi Park, which is only a five minute walk from there.
The next time you are in Tokyo, we hope you have the chance to checkout some of these fun activities in Yoyogi Park. And if you do, feel free to send us your pictures of all the fun you had!