Updated on April 26, 2017
Go south from Kichijoji station to arrive at Inokashira Park, where you can still find the rich nature of the Musashino Plateau. Straddling Musashino City and Mitaka City, the park opened as Japan’s first suburban park in May 1917. It is a popular recreational spot for the public, providing them with a space full of water and greenery close to a residential neighborhood.
Inokashira Pond in the center of the park was the source of the Kanda-Josui Channel, which was the first to supply piped water to Tokyo in the Edo Period. The headwaters of the Kanda River can still be found there. In the past, the pond was fed with spring water, but in the 1960s, the spring dried up and the pond’s water quality deteriorated, turning it into a habitat for many non-native species like largemouth bass. To remedy the situation, kaibori, a traditional method for maintaining ponds by draining, was conducted to restore nature before the park’s 100th anniversary. After two drainings, the pond’s water quality improved, water grass thought to have gone extinct started to grow again, and the number of native species increased. It is said that after the third kaibori is completed this year, the pond will undergo the special drainage once every several years.
Gotenyama, on the west side of Inokashira Pond, is said to have gotten its name from the fact that the third shogun Tokugawa Iemitsu built lodgings for rest when engaging in falconry. The hill is covered with tall trees, such as Japanese chestnut oaks, oaks, and hornbeams, a vestige of the Musashino area. In Gotenyama, there is also the Inokashira Park Zoo, which the oldest Asiatic elephant in the country, Hanako, called home. As an easily accessible facility housing small and aquatic animals, it attracts many repeat visitors. In May this year, a bronze statue of the late Hanako, beloved by many people, is scheduled to be set up in the north exit square of Kichijoji station.
This is the time of the year when we can sense the arrival of spring from the Somei Yoshino and Yamazakura cherry trees blooming around the pond and the fresh green leaves of the wooded areas. It is a place where you can enjoy the changing seasons.
◎Get off at Kichijoji station on the JR Chuo Line or Keio Inokashira Line, or at Inokashira-koen station on the Keio Inokashira Line