A to Wa of Japan: Week 39

It’s time for A to Wa of Japan again! Last week’s post was about things beginning with  ゆ (yu) and we looked at Yu (湯 / ゆ). This week we are looking at things beginning with よ (yo). A big thank you to those who joined in with suggestions this week:

UK Seikatsu suggested Yokohama (横浜 / the capital of Kanagawa Prefecture), Yokosuka (横須賀 / a city in Kanagawa Prefecture), Yosano Akiko (与謝野晶子 / a Japanese author and poet from the Meiji Period), and Yomiuri Giants (読売ジャイアンツ / a professional baseball team based in Tokyo); lovelycomplex22 also suggested Yokohama; Zooming Japan suggested Yokohama, and Yomiuri Shinbun ((読売新聞 / a newspaper); Japan Australia suggested Yokohama, Yoro (養老 / a town in Gifu Prefecture), Yonezawa (米沢 / a city in Yamagata Prefecture); and Yoshinoya (吉野家 / a chain of gyudon restaurants in Japan); Paul suggested yokai (妖怪 / supernatural monsters from folklore), Yoyogi Koen (代々木公園 / a park near Harajuku in Tokyo), Yojimbo (用心棒 / a Kurosawa film), yokozuna (横綱 / The highest rank in sumo), and Yoshimoto Banana (よしもと ばなな / a popular novelist).

I’m spoilt for choice this week with some really interesting suggestions! In the end, I decided to write about…

Yoyogi Koen (代々木公園)

Yoyogi Koen ©Yasufumi Nishi/© JNTO

Yoyogi Koen ©Yasufumi Nishi/© JNTO

If you’ve ever been to Tokyo, chances are you’ve been to Yoyogi Koen. Yoyogi Koen is a huge park near Harajuku (原宿) and Meiji Shrine (明治神宮). Due to its location, it’s usually heaving with tourists and young people, especially on the weekend and during peak seasons (spring and autumn).

I’ve been to the park a number of times, and for me the attraction is always simply to see what’s going on – because something always is! Harajuku seems to spill over into the park, and there are always people wearing interesting outfits and street entertainers to be found. The most famous of the street entertainers has to be the rockabilly guys – these guys (and gals!) are out in the park all the time, playing rock ‘n’ roll music and dancing. They’re pretty awesome.

Harajuku & Yoyogi Park

Harajuku & Yoyogi Park

Harajuku & Yoyogi Park

You’ll also see all sorts of other street musicians and people just playing music in the park (of course, it helps if it’s nice weather).

Harajuku & Yoyogi Park

Harajuku & Yoyogi Park

Harajuku & Yoyogi Park

If you’re lucky, you might even see some Harajuku girls…

Harajuku & Yoyogi Park

Harajuku & Yoyogi Park

Yoyogi Koen has been the park we know today since 1967. Previously to that, the area was used to house the Olympic Village in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, and in 1945 the area was a military barracks for US officers known as ‘Washington Heights’.

Today, Yoyogi Koen is a popular place for hanami (cherry blossom viewing) and koyo (autumn leaf viewing), as well as all the usual park-related activities such as cycling, jogging, and picnicking. The park is most easily accessed from Harajuku Station.


Next week we’ll start with ら (ra), so please leave a comment below suggesting a topic for things beginning with ら. Topics can be anything, as long as they are connected to Japan – food, places, people, characters, whatever you want to hear about! Just remember that the words you suggest must be Japanese words.

I look forward to hearing your suggestions!  (*^_^)v

16 thoughts on “A to Wa of Japan: Week 39

  1. Yoyogi Koen… didn’t think about it, but なつかしい!

    suggestion for next week with ら
    Ramen (らーめん)、Rashomon(羅生門 / one of famous films directed by Akira Kurosawa)


  2. Ah, the days when I used to live on the Odakyu… Yoyogi-koen was so near. Though I ran into a very persistent old man there once and avoided that park for quite a while afterwards…

    Rakuten, ranKing/ranQueen, ramen (of course…), rakkyou, raseraa (the Nebuta festival chant… Hahah).

    Would have suggested those cute children’s satchels, but I remember reading that post you wrote about it quite some time ago!


  3. Yoyogi Koen is a pretty cool place to hang-out!

    A few suggestions for next week:

    Rayu (Chili oil used in Japanese cooking)
    Ramune (traditional Japanese soft-drink)
    Rakugo (Japanese comic storytelling)


  4. I can only think of a couple ら suggestions not already mentioned:

    Ran (Kurosawa film)
    Ranma (beautiful wooden carvings fitted above shoji doors)


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