Inariyama-koen is a refreshing expanse of rolling green and generous arboreal cover. The park entrance is a minute's walk from Inariyama-koen station which is along the Seibu Ikebukuro Line (less than 40 minutes from Ikebukuro). Entrance is free yet it does not get especially crowded even during the holidays. A clearly marked jogging path circles the park and is made of a shock-absorbent material that offers joggers a good traction and low-impact surface to run on. The small playground offers fun and colorful animal-themed equipment for little ones. A short walk takes you to the barbecue garden where visitors can enjoy freshly grilled fare without the hassle: everything from the camping chairs, to tables and barbecuing implements can be rented. There are even staff to cook for you.
The park is home to the Sayama Life Museum. We were very surprised by the quality of the museum exhibits considering that the already cheap regular entrance fee of 200 yen for adults and 150 yen for high school and university students has been further discounted to 150 yen and 100 yen, respectively. Middle school, elementary school kids, and younger children get in free. There were impressive dioramas depicting settlements in ancient Japan and a series of dioramas showing how tea is grown and processed (Sayama is famous throughout Japan for its tea) and how silk is made. A special diorama hooked to a TV with a hologram effect allows visitors to take a peek into how people lived then. My favorite exhibit is a life-sized set in the middle of the hall showing how a typical room in the 1920s might have looked like; it had beautiful tansu (wooden chests), old-time radio, and other antique furnishings we only get to see in pictures. We learned that the park was formerly called Hyde Park and used to be a residential area for Americans related to the nearby base. This explains why we saw something that looked like the foundation of houses in some parts of the park.
The museum is hosting an interactive wooden toys exhibit from July 18, 2015 to September 23, 2015. The ground floor features an attractive all-wood play area for kids including a merry-go-round, a dollhouse, rocking animals, a child-sized train, and a "sandbox" filled with wooden balls. The second floor showcases more intricate wooden toys where visitors can turn knobs, pull strings, push levers and watch all sorts of interesting things happen. One of the more impressive contraptions is a writing machine: when you turn a knob, the machine writes the word 'LOVE' on a sheet of paper.
Whether you are looking for a green sanctuary, craving grilled food, toting toddlers, or wanting to learn more about Sayama life and culture, Inariyama-koen has a lot to offer.