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Kiba Park: A Park in Central Tokyo for Everyone from Nature Lovers to Art Lovers

Date: 11.30.2020

The expansive Kiba Park has something for everyone, and its latest addition is a café and organic farmers’ market collectively called Park Community KIBACO.

Kiba Park is located in the eastern part of Tokyo in Koto City, within sight of Tokyo Skytree. Beyond nature, this park packs a lot into its sixty-acre multipurpose space.

It is divided into two parts: north and south, which are connected by an impressive pedestrian suspension bridge. Under the bridge runs the Sendaibori River, along which locals can often be seen playing musical instruments. The two sides of the park are different in atmosphere, but the whole is delightful with its open spaces, enchanting trees, lush vegetation, and sparkling water. The beauty and color of the trees change by the season—with delicate pink cherry blossoms in spring, deep emerald-green leaves in summer, and red and yellow foliage in autumn.

 

Kiba Park History and the Koto Residents’ Festival

The Japanese characters for Kiba literally mean “wood place,” reflecting the area’s use as a lumberyard during the Edo period (1603–1867). In 1969 the Tokyo Metropolitan Government relocated the timber in the area. Then, in 1977, to commemorate the half-century reign of Emperor Showa (Hirohito) (1901–1989), an announcement was made for plans to turn the area into a park. The area officially became a park in the 1990s. New additions were made to Kiba Park in 2020 as well.

To pay tribute to its historical role in the timber industry, the park holds an unusual festival annually in mid-October called Koto Residents’ Festival. This festival gives visitors the chance to see kakunori, a form of entertainment developed in the Edo period that features logrolling. At that time, logs were floated on rivers and streams to giant log pods, where the festival is held today. The festival showcases people balancing on logs in the water while performing tricks. In these tricks, they use ladders and boxes. It’s a true taste of Edo culture!

 

Kiba Park’s South Side—Garden Greens and the New Café and Farmers Marche

The south side of the park offers a more relaxed atmosphere. It has a wide-open grassy space where many people come to enjoy a pleasant picnic with friends and family. The park is also dog-friendly, having a dog run on its grounds.

Nearby the dog run is a newly built café and farmers’ market collectively called Park Community KIBACO. In the charming wooden building with its terrace and indoor seating you can find simple picnic food, such as hot dogs, sandwiches, ice cream, and beer. The farmers’ market sells fresh greens grown locally, original snacks and spices to take home, and bottles of craft beer to pop open right in the park.

The south side also has a barbecue area with food and rental equipment, all ready to go. A botanical garden and a traditional Japanese garden are nestled nearby. The radiant botanical garden displays sunflowers and hundreds of plant species for visitors to peruse. Individual garden plots feature plants found in Japan and abroad—all kept looking their best by a team of park volunteers.

 

Kiba Park’s North Side—Sport and Contemporary Art

More of the active fun is found on the north side of the park where there are six tennis courts, basketball courts, a kids’ playground, and a large event space. Benches and picnic tables have been placed along the walkways and in small groves of trees for visitors to use as well.

Photo: Kenta Hasegawa.

On the northern edge of the park lies the recently reopened Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo (MOT), which originally opened in 1995. The museum was established by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government as a center for the systematic study, collection, preservation, and display of contemporary art with the goal of introducing the rapidly changing trends in contemporary art on a global scale. From major international exhibitions, collections that capture contemporary art movements, to original curation projects, the museum is host to a range of exhibitions in an array of mediums including painting, sculpture, fashion, architecture, and design from the world of contemporary art.

Arnaldo Pomodoro, Gyroscope of the Sun, 1988 (Photo: Keizo Kioku.)

With its mix of active leisure, nature, and art, Kiba Park is the perfect place to spend a relaxing day. You might not notice at first, but the park has been designed to serve also as a disaster-evacuation area, with large underground water reservoirs, benches that can be adapted for cooking, and maintenance holes that can be converted for use as toilets. Of course, everyone hopes that this functionality will never have to be used, but it does provide peace of mind for nearby residents.

 

Plan your visit using the links below: 

Kiba Park Homepage (Japanese only)

https://www.tokyo-park.or.jp/park/format/index020.html

 

Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo (MOT)

https://www.mot-art-museum.jp/en/

 

This article was written by Nina Cataldo.

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