Parks are an important part of our daily lives, but we too easily forget about how important they are. We take them for granted; that is until we live in the city of Osaka. Yes, there are trees. Yes, there are small dirt parks here and there. But a few planted trees growing along the side of the road can’t compete with the open grassy fields of a good park. These places help us escape from the city life and all the stress that comes along with it.
Have you ever felt relaxed and refreshed after going to a park? One reason is because you took the time to unwind. But another reason is that green grass and trees are actually very healthy for us. They have a positive effect on our mental, emotional, physical state. They help to relieve stress and calm us down. All we have to do is go to a place with lots of plants and take the time to enjoy them. Here are five parks to visit in Osaka to escape from city life that I fully recommend!
THE BEST PARKS IN OSAKA?
The first park on our list is the Sankaku Kouen (Triangle Park) in Amemura. This is a great place to relax… and watch the nightlife of Osaka nurse last night’s hangovers while they wait for the energy to catch their train home. Yes, I’m joking. I still have no idea why that open concrete area is even called a park. Maybe it’s because there are a few trees and a dried up fountain (that I’ve never seen actually running). But anyway… now that I have your attention (hopefully), I’ll get on with the actual list.
A PARK IN THE CENTER OF OSAKA: OSAKA CASTLE PARK
Here is a great park to escape from city life without even leaving the city. Osaka Castle and the beautiful park that surrounds it are iconic symbols of Osaka. Here you can see cherry blossoms, have barbecues, and attend the numerous events that are held there. (An upcoming event at Osaka Castle Park is the Belgian Beer Weekend from June 13th to 17th.) You can experience Japanese culture and history at the Castle, and look out over the park from the observation deck on the top floor. You can go jogging or cycling, have a picnic, or the gardens planted throughout the park. There is even a Starbucks, as well as a convenience store and other shops.
One of the most popular times of year to visit Osaka Castle is during April when the cherry blossoms are in full bloom. The trees are beautiful, but there are quite a lot of people, which makes relaxing rather difficult. If you really want to get away from the city life, I recommend going to this park at night. There are enough street lights to keep the environment safe, and the castle is also lit up. Sitting on a park bench with the castle in sight and breathing the night air is, in my opinion, a perfect way to relax and release bottled-up stress. If you would rather not go alone, this park is a wonderful place for a night date or a walk with friends. Osaka Castle Park is directly by Osaka-jo Kouen and Morinomiya Stations and is also a walking distance from Kyobashi and Osaka Business Park Stations. It is a convenient park to go to escape from the city life of Osaka.
BEAUTIFUL MAN-MADE PARK IN OSAKA: NAKANOSHIMA PARK
Nakanoshima Park is also located in the middle of Osaka. It is located on a man-made island, which stretches out in a thin line in-between the Dojima River and the Tosabori River. Three stations are close by Keihan Naniwabashi, Kitahama, and Tenmabashi. There are several bridges you can conveniently use to go to and from the island. On the mainland, there are plenty of choices of nice cafes and restaurants where you can sit on the balcony and look out over the park. In the park, you can enjoy cherry blossoms during April, and roses during the middle and end of May and the end of October to the middle of November. The rose garden is beautifully laid out, making this area the perfect spot for a walk. Nakanoshima Park is lit up at night as well. During the cooler seasons, you can attend an outdoor yoga session held on the green grass fields. It's a wonderful place for a picnic, and there are also restaurants on the island.
My personal favorite is a cafe restaurant called GARB weeks. Here you can enjoy a nice plate lunch or a glass of wine while looking out of the full glass walls at the park, or sit out on the terrace. While Nakanoshima Park is in heart of Osaka, the beautiful flowers and green grass offers an escape from city life. Although the towering office buildings and the sound of traffic are not far away, a walk in this park can calm your nerves and relieve your stress. It is the perfect getaway for those living in the downtown area. If you want to escape from city life, but don’t have the time to go far away, don’t worry. Nakanoshima Park is right there, like a haven in the crowded downtown city of Osaka.
LET’S ESCAPE FROM OSAKA CITY: EXPO COMMEMORATION PARK
Not familiar with the name Expo Commemoration Park? How about Banpaku Memorial Park? (Or in Japanese, Banpaku Kinen Kouen?) Yes, this park has a lot of names. It was built in Suita, Osaka, on the site of Japan World Exposition in 1970, and covers 260 Hectares (or 2.6 square kilometers).
This area has many attractions. One of the most famous of these is the Taiyo-no-Tou (Tower of the Sun), a giant statue overlooking the park. Another is NIFREL, an interactive aquazoo. Here you can see capybara, peacocks, tropical fish, and even a white tiger. You can also ride Japan’s tallest Ferris wheel, the Redhorse Osaka Wheel, or visit EXPOCITY, Japan’s largest complex. (But I suppose that if your goal was to escape from city life, you wouldn't want to go there.)
Banpaku Memorial Park has sports facilities and recreational areas, as well as seasonal flower gardens. The Japanese style gardens here were built with the best Japanese landscaping techniques, and were Japanese Government exhibits in the Exp of 1970. There are four styles of Japanese gardens, designed after different Japanese eras. Here you can find peaceful rivers, koi (carp) ponds, tea houses, and even a 300-meter-long wooden aerial promenade.
Aside from all of these attractions and Japanese gardens, there is the nature of the park itself. Wide open grassy fields and woods spread out under a blue sky. Here you can relax, surrounded by plants. There are few places in Osaka where you can see this much green in one area. Banpaku Memorial Park is located along the Monorail in northern Osaka. It is an ideal place to go if you want to escape from the city life of Osaka and relax in a beautiful park. I recommend you go here when you have a whole day to spare. You can enjoy nature in the park during the daytime, drop by EXPOCITY and take a look at the aquazoo in the evening, then enjoy the night view from the Ferris wheel before heading home.
ENJOY A ROSE GARDEN AT A PARK IN OSAKA: UTSUBO PARK
Fun fact: Utsubo Park in Honmachi used to be a United States airfield. Now the only indicator of it’s past is its 700-by-150 meter shape. In May and October, the rose garden at this park boasts a collection of more than 3400 roses. There are 160 kinds to admire. In April, cherry blossoms bloom brightly throughout the park. Paved pathways cut through green woods, shaded by the branches of the trees above. Here there are many benches to eat your lunch or read a book as you enjoy nature. The Naniwa-suji road divides Utsubo park into two sections: the East Park and the West Park. The rose garden is in the East Park (Higashi-en), along with 10 tennis courts.
In the West Park (Nishi-en), you can find 16 more tennis courts, and Utsubo Tennis Center, an arena which has hosted international tennis competitions. There is also a stream with a wading area, fountains, and waterfalls. Just north of the park is the neighborhood of Komachibori, where you can find many trendy cafes and restaurants. If you work or live in downtown Osaka, Utsubo Park will provide a getaway from the city. Here you can enjoy nature, play some tennis, or walk through the beautiful rose garden. This park is ideal for a family outing. You can have a picnic on the grass, and wade in the stream. It is also a great place to come and eat during your lunch break at work. I recommend this easily accessible park as an escape from the city life of Osaka.
A PARK IN OSAKA WITH FLOWERS FOR EVERY SEASON: HANAHAKU MEMORIAL PARK
Hanahaku Memorial Park in Tsurumiryokuchi is the site of the International Garden and Greenery Exposition in 1990. This was a world exhibition featuring many beautiful flowers. In memory of this Expo, Hanahaku Memorial Park was designed to have flowers blooming in every season. This is the biggest park in the southern part of Osaka city (123 hectares, or 1.23 square kilometers), and has camping and barbecue sites, a sports center, mini golf course, swimming pool, a horseback riding ground, playgrounds, and greenhouse where you can observe nature from all around the world.
Here in the greenhouses, you can find rare and unique flowers that will leave you amazed. Hanahaku is definitely a place worth spending a whole day at. You won’t run out of things to do at this fun and beautiful park. This is a wonderful place to relax. It lacks the new edge of Nakanoshima and Banpaku parks but instead has a homely and welcoming feel to it. There are many elderly people taking walks and talking together, as well as small children with their parents. All of this adds to the refreshing atmosphere. In the middle of the park is a large pond in which ducks swim peacefully. On a hilltop is a windmill, the symbol of the park, surrounded by red, white, and yellow tulips. There are hundreds of flowers growing both inside and outside. I recommend this park to families, nature-lovers, and anyone who wants to escape from the city life of Osaka for the day.
When we first think of Osaka, parks are not the first thing that comes to mind. We may think of buildings and concrete. We may think of noise and traffic and lots of people. And when we want to escape from that city life in Osaka, some of us may go to Nara, or maybe Kyoto. These places are a good getaway as well, but the 5 parks listed above are also all great places to relax, unwind, and reset our bodies and minds. Many of them are man-made, but that doesn't make them any less beautiful. The next time you’re in need of some green and a good day off, check out one of these parks. You’ll be surprised at how much better you feel after taking the time to appreciate nature.