Japanese beauty   (Photo: Todd Wojnowski)

The Beautiful (and Steep) Togo Park

Scenic park built on a mountain in Hanno City, Saitama

Japanese beauty   (Photo: Todd Wojnowski)
Todd Wojnowski   - 3 min read

Parks come in all shapes and sizes, but how about one that's built upwards, on the side of a mountain? That is the design of Togo Park, a gorgeous patch of nature that is hard to get to, but well worth the effort.

Located within Hanno City in Saitama Prefecture, Togo Park (東郷公園, Tōgō-koen) comprises of a series of terraces, each more pretty than the last. The park is designed as a beautiful garden, filled with trees, streams, bridges, and elements of a Japanese garden. A walk in the park is a peaceful, beautiful experience. However, it is not...er...a walk in the park. Built upwards, there are many stairs that are necessary to take, so those with trouble walking may want to pass on this one. This is a park for sightseeing and walking, not spreading a picnic blanket and throwing a Frisbee.

Togo Park is widely considered to be one of the best spots in Saitama Prefecture for viewing the colored leaves in the fall. The park celebrates this fact in its annual Maple Festival, held in late November, where it makes use of its vast number of maple trees to create one of the prettiest sites you'll find.

Following the stairs all the way to the top (an exhausting experience for even relatively fit people) will bring visitors to the Chichibu-Mitake Shrine. At the top is also an observation point that offers a spectacular view that makes it possible to see even the Tokyo Skytree on a clear day.

Built in 1925, the park's namesake is Marshal-Admiral Heihachiro Togo, who served in the Imperial Japanese Navy from 1863–1913. Togo is perhaps the greatest naval hero in Japanese history. Having received extensive education and training in Britain, Togo fought in the Sino-French War of 1884-85, the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-95, and the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-05. He received a vast number of honors and awards from Japan, and also the U.K., France, Spain, the Russian Empire, and other international powers. He was even considered as deification as a Shinto kami later in his life, but he rejected the idea. The park was built to honor Togo, and contains many references to him. There is a large statue of Togo, armor plates of battleships, and canons used in the wars (including a Russian cannon) he participated in. He is enshrined within Togo Shrine, which sits in the park and has a memorial service on May 27.

Togo Park is free to enter. It can be reached by a 30-minute walk from Agano Station (go past the nearby Houkou Temple, and follow the train line as best you can), which is the station where the Seibu Ikebukuro Line transitions into its Seibu Chichibu Line branch. There are also busses that run sporadically.

Todd Wojnowski

Todd Wojnowski @todd.wojnowski

I am an avid backpacker, writer, marathon runner, hiker, eater of spicy foods, watcher of B-movies, and user of the Harvard comma. I'm originally from Buffalo, New York, and arrived in Japan in 2008.