Explore for a day: Showa Park
TACHIKAWA, Japan -- A woman stands with her child near a bed of flowers at Showa Kinen Park May 5, 2013. During the spring, the park becomes swamped with people attending the flower festival and taking photos of the blooming plants. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Michael Washburn)
Explore for a day: Showa Park

by Senior Airman Michael Washburn
374 Airlift Wing Public Affairs

5/8/2013 - YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- Right outside the main gate lies a wealth of adventure just waiting to be found. New food, music, language, clothing and culture are literally minutes away. But all those new experiences don't mean anything if all Airmen do while they're stationed at Yokota is stay on base.

For those who may be hesitant to travel too far off base, a great place to go that's fairly close to Yokota is Showa Kinen Park.

From the Fussa train station, simply take the Tachikawa bound train and get off at the Nishi-Tachikawa station, walk up the stairs at the train station and cross the bridge to arrive at the park's front gate.

One of the larger areas of Showa Park, which is seen immediately after entering through the gate, is Waterfowl Lake. Here, people are able to use rowboats and two-person paddle boats to relax on the lake.

Located behind Waterfowl Lake and at the center of the park is a large open field, which is double the size of Tokyo Dome and seems to act as a hub for many of the park's visitors. On any day of the week, this area is filled with people enjoying a variety of activities including flying kites, playing baseball, having a picnic, taking pictures at the numerous flowerbeds or even people dressing up like characters from movies or games and acting out their favorite scenes. This field can also act as a temporary evacuation area in the event of an earthquake or other disasters.

Paved roads around the park lead visitors to other sightseeing amazements like a bird sanctuary; dragonfly marsh, where people can view 18 species of dragonflies and gander at rare black killifish; Japanese Garden and the Komorebi Village, which reproduces the appearance of a farm village from the 1950's and '60's. From these paved roads, small dirt trails lead off into the neighboring brush.

Located in the uppermost park of the park is an expanse of glee for kids and a place for them to expel all of their energy. The Children's Forest is chock-full of equipment to play on including a bouncing dome, misty forest, a large wooden playground and rainbow hammocks, which are woven nets of different color.

For anyone interested in traveling around Japan, Showa Kinen Park is a good way to start. It has something for everyone, be it friends, a family with children or even just someone with their dog. There is a world of adventure waiting outside of base and all it takes is the curiosity to find it.