| Hibiya Park in Central Tokyo - by Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon, Images Through Glass, Tokyo
Located next to the Imperial Palace grounds, Hibiya Koen (Hibiya Park) opened as a public park in 1903 (with an area of 16 hectares). The area was formerly the site of several daimyo mansions and later an army drill ground. Plans for the park go back to 1888, and indeed, the park has a feeling of being connected with history. The design of the park reflects the times in which it was built - with it having both eastern and western aspects. Although difficult to imagine now, the first Tokyo Motor Show was held in the park in 1954, (the current Motor Show is held at the large Makuhari convention site), and other events, like flower shows are sometimes still held here. There is also a concert hall within the grounds.
The park is a good size for a city park - large enough to accommodate a couple of ponds and with enough benches that you can nearly always find somewhere to sit, but not so large that it's impractical to visit during a lunch hour, it may be the best park in Tokyo for all-around practical use.
Hibiya Park, in Central Tokyo
The building in the middle picture above and the second from the left picture below seems to be in exactly the same location as the "Hibiya Park Hotel" as marked on a 1949 English language map I have, so I'm wondering if the actual building is the same? I tried to find something on the Internet to corroborate a connection with the building on the 1949 map and the current building, but what comes up in searches is a modern hotel called the "Hibiya Park Hotel" which is located outside of the park. (Did the former "Hibiya Park Hotel" move out of the park, leaving the building to become a restaurant and... wedding hall? (When I get a chance, I'll do some on-site investigating to clarify this issue.)
(Above & below) - Park benches... I may have taken a few too many pictures of them, but for various reasons, park benches are not necessarily to be expected in parks here. For one thing, the high amount of rain the country gets affects the wood and requires frequent cleaning, and then some parks are too large or inaccessible for casual daytime use (as Hibiya Park is with the many office workers who go there at lunch), so they are geared to picnics more than strolling.
Also... I have spent some time sitting on these benches over the years, and in corresponding with a man who was here from 1948-50, he told me of his fond memories of sitting on a bench in Hibiya Park with his girlfriend, so now when I see the park benches of Hibiya Park, I think of the personal histories tied in with them.
(Below) - I sat on the benches here (the ones in the same location that have recently been replaced that is) looking at the pond on several occasions after working in the Iino Building back in the mid-80's. (Since I was using Kasumigaseki Station, this side of the park was the most convenient for me.)
(Below, second from left) - A replica of the Liberty Bell. (Below, third & fourth from left) - I'm not actually sure what this building is - I seem to recall reading something about weddings....
(Below) - The moat that surrounds the outer part of the Imperial Palace grounds. The building on the far right of the right picture is the Dai-Ichi Building, which was GHQ for MacArthur during his time here.
Copyright 2007 by Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon, Images Through Glass, Tokyo