Beginning this past February I set out on my morning walks to discover as many parks as my feet would allow.
In nine short months I have walked 2,931 kilometers covering almost every part of the city. There is a program to encourage residents of all ages to walk. It is called “Enjoy Walking Yokohama.” I joined last year and received a pedometer that captures my steps, calories burned and more. Throughout the city there are places where you can scan your pedometer and it will record all your data onto their web page. Today there are over 57,000 walkers who are participating and it has become very competitive to see who walks the most steps. The big benefit is I have lost 9 kilos since February and now my weight is what it was when I was 20 years old.
Most tourist and residents know about the popular Bay area parks and Sankeien Gardens. My goal was to explore the places not well known to see what they had to offer. I was pleasantly surprised by the diversity of landscapes, trails, and people who frequent them.
Local parks have their own festivals, specific seasonal flowers, easy to difficult walking trails, fishing ponds, and many sports activities. From my home I can reach ten or more within an hours walk. Some even have historic buildings, community pools, tennis courts, baseball, and soccer fields.
No matter the season or the weather you will always find residents out enjoying their parks. I met some of the friendliest Japanese people during the walks. When I started out I often became lost and used the familiar word “Sumimasen” (すみません) excuse me Higashi Totsuka, to ask for directions home. Their response was to take me to the corner or over to the right street. If they were high school age then they practiced their English skills and gave me the directions.
Once I learned the major highway numbers it was easy to find my way back. Sometimes I would walk up to the highest point and look off in the distance for a landmark to guide me.
No I do not have a smart phone with GPS. Normally, I pull up Google maps and plan my morning walks taking the back roads until I come upon a major intersection with a a familiar highway sign.
While walking in the parks if you make eye contact you will be rewarded with a greeting or a nod. Many residents use the parks for morning exercise and to meet up with their friends.
In addition to the parks there are many waterways/canals throughout the city with picturesq views and most have excellent walking paths. During the spring and fall they hold festivals with food and souvenir tents. There are always ducks, herons, and turtles resting along the waterway and if the weather is nice families with blankets spread out picnic lunches on the concrete sections.
There are even some gardens you may want to explore. Yokohama English Garden and Ofuna Botanical Garden.
Both gardens have a small entrance fee that is well worth the price.
No matter where you are in the city of Yokohama there will be an interesting park, garden or waterway nearby. There is so much more to see than just the known tourist attractions. If you cannot take long walks do not worry as the bus system stops at each of the parks. A bus map can be downloaded at this site.
Here is a list of just a few of the areas that I had the opportunity to explore. The web pages provide map locations. So if you want to have a day away from the hustle and bustle take the bus map and mark off each park location and plan to visit several. You will not regret it.
Mitsuzawa Park From Mitsuzawakamicho Station (Blue Line) go west to highway 13 and walk south to the park. The park is neighborhood sports complex with a few good walking paths.
Homoku Sancho Park – Known for their Cherry blossom display, the park has wide walkways and sits up on a hill. 15 minutes from Ishikawa station.
Jungashita Park A very interesting park with nice walking paths along a flowing stream with very dense shrubs. 15 minutes beyond the Hodogaya bypass on highway 17 heading towards Shin-Yokohama.
Yokohama City Children’s Nature Park and Makigahara Park - This park is close to Totsuka Country Club and has some excellent vigorous up hill walking trails. Many areas with picnic tables, plum tree section and cherry trees. There is a large children’s play area and a very nice pond with crossing bridge. A few minutes walk from Minami-Makigahara station.
English Garden – A short distance from Yokohama station nestled in between a model homes area this garden’s specialty is roses, the city flower. They have 650 varieties on display. Spring and fall are the best time to visit, although there are events throughout the year. On my latest visit the garden was decked out with halloween decorations.
Ofuna Botanical Gardens – I walked to this one many times. The entrance fee is only 300 yen for adults. The garden features 5,300 different flowers, has an exceptional orchid display and I like the water lily ponds. From Ofuna station it is a fifteen minute walk.