Due to growing up in the countryside, anything containing the word ‘nature’ seems to naturally attract my attention. After reading the history and more recent philosophy of the Institute for Nature Study, I had to visit this magical sounding place! The Institute aims to preserve a sanctuary of natural beauty, right in the heart of Tokyo; what’s not to like about that?
There is a very complex history involved with the park, to get to its current stage. History says that the Shirokane-Choja clan had a mansion build on the grounds, around 400-500 years ago. The mansion was grand and fortified by walls built of piled up earth. In 1664, early Edo period, this became one of the residences of the Matsudaira family who had the pond and a private garden developed. Moving to the Meiji period, 1868-1912, the army and navy forces at that time, used the area as a powder magazine, before being taken over by the Ministry of Education in 1949 and designated as a Natural Monument and Historic Site. This is when the park was opened to the public as a natural education park.
The Institute wishes to bring people together with nature, induce calm and peace of mind in the presence of living things that change with the season, inspiring thoughts of the relationship between people and nature. This ideology can be very hard in the middle of such a densely populated and build up area; yet thanks to parks around Tokyo, it’s attainable. This said, the Institute for Nature Study has by far achieved their purpose the best. Walking around the park is definitely calm and peaceful. I couldn’t help but stop every few steps, just to look around and gaze at the beauty and wildlife on offer. With 1436 species of plants, 2130 species of insects and 130 species of bird, this park truly offers an escape to nature.
On entrance, you’ll find all the information you need in English along with interactive displays that can be especially good for the kids. For such a great park, the entrance price is very low! Adults only pay ¥310 and kids get in for free. The park has a fairly straightforward trail that is mapped out and sign posted to guide you around the park.
I missed out on a fair amount of the blooms this year, due to the time of my visit. That said there was still a huge amount of plants and wildlife on offer for me to wonder at. Shirokanedai Metro station is a five-minute walk down the road. I highly recommend a visit!