September 8, 2014
Marino Takeuchi & Nao Mochizuki
The History of Takaragaike and the Park
Takaragaike is a small artificial lake made in the middle of the Edo period, and its original purpose was for drawing water into the surrounding fields. At first, it was only a small pond, created by damming spring water, but it is said to have become as large as its present size by the end of the Edo period. During World War II, a plan for the development of Takaragaike Park was made. The park area was originally planned to be a Bouku Ryokuchi, or an evacuation area, for people to avoid air raids and to prevent fire from spreading into urban areas. In 1958, bicycle racing, which had been held at the Kyoto Bicycle Racing Track here, was discontinued and instead the playground “Paradise for Children” (Kodomo no Rakuen) was built on the site. In 1961, the construction of the Kyoto International Conference Center was decided upon, and after that many facilities such as the Forest of Rest and Relaxation (Ikoi no Mori), the Forest of Wild Birds (Yachou no Mori) and the Forest of Cherry Blossoms (Sakura no Mori) were introduced. Today, the grounds including these facilities and the lake is called Takaragaike Park, and covers an area of 62.7 hectares.
Facilities in the park
The “Paradise for Children” playground (Kodomo no Rakuen) is a place which is surrounded by a thickly wooded area and is a special place for children. There are three areas for youngsters here: the playground which is set up with playground equipment and a sandbox, a large open space with grass and a rest area, and an experience area, where people can touch a lot of living things and plants. This park can only be used by young children and their parents, and people who are more than junior high school student age (except children’s parents) may not enter. The Forest of Rest and Relaxation (Ikoi no Mori) is a place where one can observe wild birds and was formerly the home for a racing stable exclusively for the use of the Heian cavalry. The stables of the Kyoto Prefectural Police Department are here now, and you can see horses which are used for patroling and traffic safety campaigns. There is also an experience of riding the horses on offer to children up to nine years old.
This lake is surrounded by a lot of nature even though it is inside the environs of Kyoto city. In the lake, there are creatures such as turtles, carp, frogs and birds. Various plants border the water’s edge, and you can enjoy seasonable scenes whenever you go. Especially in spring, many people come here to view the cherry blossoms and the park becomes quite crowded. There is a promenade around the lake, and many people like walking, jogging and running marathons. You can rent a rowing boat or pedal boat, and buy food to feed the fish at the shop near the lakeside.
Located on the edge of the park are some famous buildings such as the Grand Prince Hotel Kyoto and the Kyoto International Conference Center where the Kyoto Protocol was signed. There are also a lot of eating places, such as cafés, restaurants and so on.
Access to Takaragaike park
The closest station is Kokusaikaikan Subway Station, on the Kyoto City Karasuma subway line, which is located right outside the north entrance to the park. It is also about 10 – 15 minutes north on foot from Matsugasaki station on the same subway line.