Ikuta Park or Ikuta Ryokuchi is a park located approximately twenty five (25) minutes away from Shinjuku by the Odakyu Electric Railway at Mukogaoka-Yuen station in Kawasaki city.
The station itself has no escalators but does have two elevators for stroller and handicap access. The south exit provides a leisurely fifteen-twenty minute walk to Ikuta Ryoichi with a map provided immediately outside the station.
The area around the station and leading to the park has a few convenience stores, dollar shops, drugstores, restaurants, and a large supermarket right in front of the station. Perfect for any last minute purchases or items required for a cherry blossom viewing or “Hanami” party. As the the restaurant includes a McDonalds and Ootoya, English-only visitors can rest easy with English menus.
Along the road to the park, the first intersection has a free Wi-fi hotspot for any dataless visitors. Further along, there is a Komeda’s Coffee cafe and a kimono shop prior to entering the park. After crossing to the intersection, the road forks into two where the visitor should stay to the right towards “Ikuta Ryokuchi”.
The road from Mukogaoka-Yuen station leads to the east entrance of Ikuta Park. As a few guidelines, the park does not allow fireworks but feel free to bring any outdoor sports activities – frisbees, soccer balls, badminton, etc. Moreover, as usual in Japan, feel free to bring any alcoholic beverages so long as one keeps tidy.
As the Park maps are all in Japanese, I would suggest using the English map found on the official website here.
Although the park may seem extremely busy, the main sections of the park (in order) are the Japan Open-Air Folk House Museum, Central Field, Okuno-Ike, Western Field, Taro Okamoto Museum of Art, Plum Trees Park, Alnus Japonica Woods and the Mount Masugata Observation Platform.
Japan Open-Air Folk House Museum
Admission is five hundred (500) yen for adults and three hundred (300) yen for children. A visit will take around an hour at most and photography is prohibited. Recommended for a travelers interested in history and culture, the museum shows a few houses in the traditional Japanese gassho-zukuri style.
The Japanese noodle (soba) restaurant, Shirakawago, named after the same village in Gifu Prefecture reflecting the gassho-zukuri style is open to all visitors even those not visiting the museum.
This area lies a one minute walk south of the Japan Open-Air Folk House Museum and in this author’s opinion, the prime area for cherry blossom viewing. If early, visitors can even occupy one of the few covered pavilions in this area to enjoy the view in the shade with table and bench.
Secondly, as this area connects to an underground river, the sound of flowing water accompanies the experience. Moreover, given the density of the cherry blossom trees in this area, any visitor will truly feel they are surrounded by cherry blossoms.
The largest area of Ikuta Park and with a large playing area and a few tables. A tarp would be best recommended as the tables are really for the early birds. There’s a small cafe towards the east entrance that also provides your last minute or emergency food/beverage needs.
Plum Trees & Okuno-ike
Okuno-ike or the “inner pond” lies further west of the Central Field and is small area in comparison with the central field. The tall tries may provide small respite from the open Central Field. By way of stairway only, south of the pond is the Plum trees field with over dozens of small plum trees and also a good area to picnic. However, please note, this area is completely inaccessible by baby stroller or handicap persons.
Further west leads to the Taro Museum, a museum dedicated to the artworks of Taro Okamoto. Once again, this area is inaccessible for handicap persons as it is located on the second floor but the elevator does reach the third floor to allow access to the west exit of Ikuta Ryokichi.
Interested individuals may pay of 500 yen for adults and 300 yen for children and seniors. The artwork includes various mediums including sculptures and paintings. Mostly in the abstract and avant-garde style, one may search his works before dedicating a visit. Workshops are also held but strictly in Japanese.
Mount Masugata Observation Platform
North of the Central Field and the main highlight of the Ikuta Ryokichi is the Observation Platform. Once again, inaccessible by baby stroller or handicap persons, the Observation Platform may be reached by lengthy stairway.
The surrounding area of the Observation Platform provides plenty of open space and playground attractions for children. Anyone fancying a drink may also access the vending machines in this area.
The Observation Platform itself is approximately 3-4 stories high and may be reached by stairway or elevator. The top provides a 360 panoramic view of the surrounding areas with even a clear view of Mount Fuji on clearer days.
Alnus Japonica Woods & Field of Fireflies
Northwest of the Central Field and west of the Observation Platform are the Alnus Japonica Woods and the Field of Fireflies. This area is mostly a nature walk on an elevated wooden planks through a swamp and forest. The area is a host to a number of attractions including fireflies (and likely, mosquitoes) during the summer. Inaccessible by baby stroller or handicap persons, this area still remains a good area for those looking for a brisk hike.
For more information → http://www.odakyu.jp/english/traffic/train/search/