My Tokyo Guide
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Updated: October 11, 2019
The area around Oji Station is rich with history, where papermakers, the city’s elite, and ancient shrines once thrived. Sit under cherry trees in one of Tokyo’s best parks, learn about the history of paper at a unique museum, and wander through ornate gardens.
A small free monorail connects Oji Station with the north side of Asukayama Park, which is actually a small hill that stretches alongside the station. Shogun Tokugawa Yoshimune planted nearly 650 cherry trees here in the early 18th century, which remain today. In 1873, it became one of Japan’s first public parks. Asukayama features a large playground as well as an old tram car and steam locomotive that kids and adults alike are welcome to explore. There’s also a water play area complete with a large fountain and stream, ideal for kids during the hot summer season. You can find Oji-jinja Shrine, one of Tokyo’s most important shrines, on the north side of the park. The south side of the park features three museums: the Kita City Asukayama Museum on early Japanese history, the Shibusawa Memorial Museum dedicated to famous industrialist Shibusawa Eiichi, and the Paper Museum.
The Paper Museum first opened in 1950 on the site of Tokyo’s first Western-style paper company. Now in a new location, the museum boasts more than 40,000 artifacts and 10,000 books related to paper. The permanent exhibit covers 2,000 years of paper-related history and includes interesting displays on washi, traditional Japanese paper. Workshops are held on papermaking throughout the year.
Once the home of Mutsu Munemitsu, a nobleman of the Meiji period, Kyu-Furukawa Gardens was passed to the Furukawa family through marriage. It is notable for its British-style mansion and gardens designed by British architect Josiah Conder, which juxtapose nicely with its Japanese garden designed by landscape architect Ogawa Jihei of Kyoto. The British garden features a lovely geometric rose garden while the Japanese garden features a shinji-ike, a pond in the shape of the Chinese character for heart. A teahouse offers a serene view of the pond, which you can enjoy with tea and a sweet for a small fee. The gardens are particularly pretty in November, when you can see roses bloom alongside colorful Japanese maple trees.