Liam and I had an enjoyable visit to Showa Kinen Park in Tachikawa last week. As I shared in my last post, the park was very kid-friendly, with a dragon-themed play area, trampoline nets and a rubbery, marshmallow-like series of hills to jump on.
The park had plenty for me to admire, as well. We passed through several cobbled plazas decorated with sections of bright tiled mosaics. There were curving benches that reminded me of designs by the architect Gaudi that we saw years ago on a trip to Barcelona. There was a cave-like structure with seating and a giant fish whose mouth gaped open. We were early enough in the day that we explored these areas entirely by ourselves. The mosaics were broken and chipped in spots, giving the designs a patina of neglect. It made me feel a little like we were exploring an abandoned city.
I was also keen to see the park’s Japanese Garden. We entered under a wide gate and soon came to the shore of the garden’s central lake. A photographer and a fashion model were doing a photo shoot in a wooded grove near its edge. We walked on, finding plenty of large boulders along the water’s border for Liam to hop on. He also loved running along a series of wooden docks that stretched out over a marsh area. We both appreciated the shaded hillside nearby that had a small brook running downhill. The Japanese garden did not overflow with flowers, but the overall arrangement of rocks, woods, small Japanese buildings, manicured lawns and water features gave the area a peaceful and serene feel that made me want to linger. (At least as long as it is possible to linger when accompanied by a fidgety 4-year-old boy!)
Elsewhere in the park, we found a massive playing field, occupied by hundreds (thousands?) of little Japanese boys and girls playing in soccer matches. Their families set up blankets and chairs in the surrounding field and were passing the time by chatting and picnicking. We followed the path through them until the crowds disappeared and we passed into a cherry tree grove. This is the wrong time of year to see them in their frothy pink dresses but their ropey, twisting branches were ornament enough. I switched my camera to black and white mode and shivered a little at their dark beauty. I’ll be back to visit them again soon, I’m sure.