The sprawling grounds of Shimizu Park, situated on the grounds of a temple, is appealing to all kinds of visitors in every season. The park was established in 1894 when a local soy sauce merchant family leased land around Konjoin Temple to provide leisure for the public. Today, the great red gate, housing two imposing Nyorai statues, marks the entrance to the park, and the avenue of cherry trees is one of the Top 100 blossom viewing sites in Japan.
Konjoin, the oldest temple in Noda City, has seasonal displays of flowers and plants, and welcomes the public to a monthly goma-taki ritual in the Shingon tradition.
The grounds of the park are famous for flowers and foliage. Besides the fine cherry blossom viewing, late spring azaleas, and autumn maple and ginkgo trees are attractive sights in the park. The neighboring Flower Fantasia botanical park, the surrounding marshland, and the Edo River environment provide habitat for a great variety of birds and small animals. Sharp eyes may spot kingfishers, herons and the occasional oriental stork.
The most prominent feature of the park is the field athletics course, a complex of three different obstacle courses. The easiest course is manageable for beginners and small children. The Adventure and Water Courses have wobbly gangways, rope bridges, rafts that threaten to tip, and a zip line over a pond. Visitors are required to wear appropriate footwear and are advised to bring changes of clothes as part of the fun is falling in.
You can make a day of it at the park, trout fishing in the small pond and be preparing your own lunch at the barbeque area. Just outside the gates of the park, there is a water park, a petting zoo, and a stable with pony rides.
If you want to stay longer, there are also camping areas with bungalows, tent grounds, and parking for camping vehicles.
Admission to the park is free. The field athletics, petting zoo, pony rides, and botanical park each have separate admission fees.
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The Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Program took me to Ehime Prefecture in 1999, and Japan’s culture and beautiful places kept me here. You will see many of my stories on Japan Travel are about places and events outside of big tourist draws. While I highly recommend the big name sights and experiences, I encourage visitors to see and feel the atmosphere off the beaten path, too. I've lived in cities in the Tokatsu area of Chiba Prefecture (Noda, Nagareyama, Matsudo, Kashiwa, Abiko and others) for the last 15 years and have discovered the many cultural, culinary, and historical treasures here which I share with our readers.