Though Machida lies on the outskirts of Tokyo, it nonetheless feels very much a part of the busy city. As soon as you get off the train, you’re surrounded by the hundreds of people commuting in and out of the city. Leaving the station, the first thing you see are the streets stretching out here and there, the neon lights, and the colourful billboards which are so quintessential to the image of the Tokyo metropolis. Basically, you get the sense that you won’t find any peace and quiet here.
As it turns out, this is not true. Fifteen minutes on the bus from central Machida is Yakushi-Ike park, a tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle of Tokyo. With a huge range of flowers blooming all year round, the park is a beautiful place to visit no matter the weather - even in the July rain.
I originally visited the park in the pouring rain. Despite being a little damp, it was worth the visit; there’s a certain beauty, I find, in Japanese landscapes in the rain. It was also far quieter than if it had been sunny. However, the experience was even better in the sunshine - you can see the koi fish and turtles swimming about in the pond, and colourful flowers really begin to bloom.
When you enter the park, the information centre is below you - here, you can find a Japanese map of the park and a leaflet providing information on the museum of photography further inside. So, why not take a look at the nature photography of Akiyama Shotaro before going to see some of Japan’s wonderful scenery for yourself?
Take a walk past the pond, the waterwheel and the old thatched houses, visit the Statue of Democratic Rights, wander through the cherry blossoms (which bloom during April), and finally feel like you can escape the city noise. There are two places where you can buy a snack and a drink, and there are also plenty of benches around the park so you can sit down and eat whilst admiring the view.
The park is about an hour’s walk from the main Machida station, or you can catch a taxi for a 15-minute ride (approximately ¥2000, depending on traffic). A bus can also be taken close by: go to bus stop #21 in front of the Pop Building, where you’ll see a Lawson supermarket directly in front of you. Take the J55 and disembark at "Yakushi-ike". You’ll see the yellow squirrel garden gate in the distance, and traffic lights just ahead.
Family-friendly and with dogs welcomed, Yakushi-Ike park is perfect for anyone visiting Machida, any time of year.