Just outside of Tokyo, there are many accessible rural landscapes and parks with great views of the Kanto Plain, the region around Tokyo. In Kashiwa City, not far from the dense city center, is Akebonoyama Agricultural Park, an ideal spot for a day out in an rural landscape.
The park has many landscapes and vantage points in every season. On my most recent visit, I took in the cherry blossom festival in the grove on the hillside. During the festival, you can snack on traditional festival foods such as okonimiyaki, savory pancakes, yakisoba, fried noodles and all kinds of sweets. Under the cherry trees, you will notice some monuments. Over a century ago, haiku poet Kobayashi Issa, just like you, marveled at the beauty around him, and he composed stanzas to commemorate his visit. Time might stand still for you, too, under the gnarled trees.
But Akebonoyama Park is not beautiful only in the spring. It has flower displays throughout the year. Enjoy sunflowers in August, spider lilies in September, and cosmos flowers in November. In the winter months, there are violas and all kinds of hardy plants in the gardens. You might wonder where you are, standing in front of the windmill surrounded by tulips. This is a popular place for photos in the park. In front of the windmill is a pond stocked with fish and water lilies that are at their best in summer. To the west of the park, in stark contrast to the modern flower garden is a traditional tea house and garden, Nihon Teien.
Visitors can bring a picnic lunch and relax in the meadows on the hillside. Other choices for food include barbecue (reserve ahead of your visit), or a light lunch at either the tea house next to Nihon Teien, or the canteen near the barbecue area. While you are there, pay a visit to Tokaiji Temple on the little hill above the park.
The park is easily accessed from the Joban Expressway. Alternatively, if you have the energy and time, rent bicycles from Kashiwa City’s bicycle rentals.
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You will see many of my stories on Japan Travel are about places and events outside of big city centers and tourist destinations. While I highly recommend the big name sights and experiences, I encourage visitors to see and feel the atmosphere off the beaten path, too.