Explore Shinjuku Chuo Park and Its Secret History

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Shinjuku Chuo (Central) Park, a lush greenspace surrounded by the office towers and luxury apartment high-rises of Nishi-shinjuku. So, there’s no better time than the present to explore this park and discover its little known role in the development of Japan’s photography industry.

2018-07-20   Travel Destinations, Tokyo,


The birthplace of Japan’s photography industry


The more Japanese I learn, the more I realize just how many things I overlooked during my early years in Japan. On a recent visit to Shinjuku Chuo Park, I noticed a monument with an inscription in Japanese. Perhaps it’s relatively new, or maybe I missed it back when my Japanese reading comprehension wasn’t up to the challenge of decrypting its mysteries.
However, this time around, I was able to read the inscription, and in doing so discovered a significant moment in local and national history. The monument marks the “birthplace of Japan’s photography industry” by commemorating the spot where the company we now know as Konica Minolta established its first factory and research lab (named Rokuosha) in 1902.
The Yodobashi Water Filtering Plant that was located here during that time made it the perfect place to establish businesses, homes, and factories, which eventually led to the hyper-modern Nishi-shinjuku that we know today. The plant and Rokuosha are now long gone, but if you explore Nishi-shinjuku carefully, you may discover hints of their existence.

Nishi-shinjuku continues to evolve. One of several entrances to the park can be seen on the left.

How it all started

The absence of Rokuosha and the Yodobashi Water Filtering plant made way for what we now know as Shinjuku Chuo Park. After initial planning that had begun in 1960, the park finally opened to the public in 1968.
In 1977, ownership and operations of the park were transferred from the Tokyo Metropolitan Government to the Shinjuku Ward. Covering 88,000 square meters, it remains as the largest public park in the ward (Shinjuku Gyoen is operated by the national government).

A “mini photo exhibition” commemorating Shinjuku Chuo Park’s 50th anniversary.

Enjoying the park in the present

Shinjuku Cho Park is loaded with activities for locals and travelers of all ages. Thanks to a running path and public fitness equipment, it’s an excellent place to get some exercise. This is especially true if you are staying at one of the many nearby hotels. There’s even a futsal court in the southern section of the park.

Shinjuku’s very own Niagara Falls.

Families with children are in luck. The entire southwest section of the park is dedicated to activities for the young ones including a playground and a wading pool—perfect for Tokyo’s sweltering summers.
Time your visit right, and you can catch all kinds of seasonal activities including cultural festivals, outdoor movies, flea markets, and musical performances.

Local wildlife posing for the camera.

Take a break from your routine

Perhaps the best thing to do in the park is to simply relax and enjoy the scenery. The lush vegetation of Shinjuku Chuo Park changes with the seasons, making it the perfect place to appreciate cherry blossoms, vibrant fall colors, and everything in between. And of course, there are plenty of perfect spots to enjoy a peaceful break with your favorite bento lunch.
So the next time your travels bring you to Nishi-shinjuku, take a moment to stroll through Shinjuku Cho Park. From brushing up on Tokyo’s rich history to simply appreciating nature, there is always something to discover in this fascinating part of the city.

Looking in the direction of Shinjuku Station from the park’s main event space.

For smartphone users, please click the link below to go to the Tadaima Japan website which includes additional location details:
Explore Shinjuku Chuo Park and Its Secret History

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AUTHOR

Anthony

Anthony

Writer / Translator

Originally from Riverside, California, I've been living, working, and writing in Japan since 2009. Japan has become my second home, and I'm especially fond of Shinjuku, Tokyo. That being said, I also love getting out into the countryside and exploring the entire country. Through Tadaima Japan, I hope to share the wonders of Japan with a wider, international audience. Check out my articles if you enjoy exploring on foot, convenient cafes, and affordable dining.

Information

Address 2-11-1 Nishi Shinjuku Shinjuku-ku Tokyo, 160-0023
Hours -
Price free
Close -
Access One-minute walk from Tochomae Station on the Toei Oedo Line or five-minute walk from Nishi-shinjuku Station on the Tokyo Metro Marunouchi Line.
Phone +81-(0)3-3342-4510
Website http://parks.prfj.or.jp/shinjuku/en/