Vegetarian's Japan Guide

Inokashira Park: One of Tokyo’s Best Cherry Blossom Spots

Inokashira Park (井の頭公園) is Kichijōji’s landmark. That park is just a 5-minute walk from Kichijoji Station and has a ground of 42,000 square meters. Completed in 1917, it is the first suburban park in Japan. But the more important fact is that Inokashira Park is one of Japan’s Top 100 Cherry Blossom Spots. Around Inokashira Pond, more than 200 cherry trees are planted. This is why many people paddle the swan boats to tour around the lake in early spring. The scene of the pink cherry blossom petals fluttering in the wind and falling on the pond is just too romantic to miss!

Moreover, markets might be on for you to treasure hunt on weekends and public holidays. The park is also the stage for various street performers.

Like Ueno Park, it also has a zoo. And, it also has an aquarium. While this part of the park is perfect for families with children, we won’t go into details as we hope the animals can live freely in their natural habitat.

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Why Is the Park Named Inokashira

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It is said that the name Inokashira was given by the third Shōgun of the Tokugawa shogunate, Tokugawa Iemitsu (德川家光). He even carved the name on the bark of a Japanese jade tree. Although the trade is gone, there is a monument commemorating the event.

The reason for naming the place Inokashira is probably because Inokashira Pond has abundant natural water. The water from the pond is the source of the Kanda River (神田川), which flows into Sumida River (隅田川) in the end. So, the water from Inokashira has been the main water source in Tokyo for centuries.

On one side of the park, there is a natural spring source where high-quality water flows out. Because the spring is suitable for making tea, it is called Ocha no Mizu (お茶の水).

About the Boats at Inokashira Park

The most popular activity at Inokashira Park is the boats. However, if you visit the park with your partner, think twice before boarding the same boat. There is a high chance that you will break up with your partner if you paddle the boat together at Inokashira Park. Apparently, this is more than an urban myth. Many Japanese have shared their life stories that prove the trustworthiness of the myth.

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Why? Because of the Benzaiten (弁才天) enshrined in the small temple in Inokashira Park. She gets jealous about the happiness of the couples, so she finds ways to break them up if she sees one paddling the boat together. But if you want to end your relationship, the boat at Inokashira Park can be your last sweet memory together.

This is probably why you won’t see couples on a swan boat at Inokashira Park.

Fun fact: There is only one male swan boat at Inokashira Park. Out of the many swan boats, one of them doesn’t have any eyelashes. Instead, it has a cool male eyebrow. Apparently, this is because the material left for the last boat was only enough to make another set of eyes but not eyelashes. Thus, the swan boat was given a pair of straight eyebrows instead.

The Rental Cost and the Operating Hours of Inokashira Park’s Boat

There are three types of boats you can rent at Inokashira Park.

  • Row boat (ローボート):
    • It has a capacity of three adults.
    • The rental cost is 500 yen per 30 minutes.
  • Cycle boat (サイクルボート):
    • It has a capacity of two adults and one children.
    • The rental cost is 700 yen per 30 minutes.
  • Swan boat (スワンボート):
    • It has a capacity of two adults and two children.
    • The rental cost is 800 yen per 30 minutes.

The operating hours of rental boats at Inokashira Park are as per below. Note the hours can change. You can refer to the Official Website for the latest information. Google Chrome’s translation function at the right of the address bar can translate the page for you.

  • March: 9:30 am to 5:20 pm.
    • The last admission is at 4:20 pm.
  • April to July: 10 am to 5:50 pm.
    • The last admission is at 4:50 pm.
  • August: 10 am to 6:20 pm.
    • The last admission is at 5:20 pm.
  • September: 10 am to 5:50 pm.
    • The last admission is at 4:50 pm.
  • October: 9:30 am to 5:20 pm.
    • The last admission is at 4:20 pm.
  • November: 9:30 am to 4 pm.
    • The last admission is at 4:50 pm.
  • December to February: 9:30 am to 4:50 pm.
    • The last admission is at 3:50 pm.
    • The service is not available on Wednesdays.

Inokashira Benzaiten (井の頭弁財天)

For some peace, visit Inokashira Benzaiten at Inokashira Park’s northwest corner. The serene temple on the lake shore is ideal for contemplation. The scenery of the lake from the temple is picturesque.

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From the boat deck, cross the Komae Bridge (狛江橋) and head west for the Benzaiten’s temple. Regardless of the jealousy issue, the Benzaiten is one of Japan’s Seven Lucky Gods. Looking after wealth, music, and performance arts, she is the god that many people would want her favors.

The reason that many artists, writers, and screenwriters choose to live in Kichijōji might have something to do with the temple!

Unlike Benzaiten in Japan, the statue in Inokashira Benzaiten has eight arms, each holding a different type of weapon. Her facial expression is extra kind to balance out the weapon’s aggressiveness. It is said that the weapon in her hands is to protect us from the evil spirit.

Note the Benzaiten statue is only shown to the public for a couple of days in the year of the snake.

Before praying, instead of clapping your hands, just join your hands and recite the mantra below in your mouth.

On Sorasobatei Ei Yowaka (オン・ソラソバテイ・エイ・ソワカ)

There are several stone statues in Inokashira Benzaiten’s precinct. One of them is a stone dragon fountain. As a god who looks after wealth, it is said washing your money here can bring you more wealth.

Inokashira Benzaiten is open from 7 am to 4 pm.

How to Get to Inokashira Park

  • Inokashira Park is a 5-minute walk from JR and Keio’s Kichijoji Station (吉祥寺駅) South exit.
  • If you plan to take Keio’s Inokashira Line (京王井の頭線) from Shibuya, get off at Inokashira-Kōen Station (井の頭公園駅).

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