Sports Facilities Around Yoyogi Park and My Vision for the Area

■Yoyogi Park

Photo : ©RendezVous

Yoyogi Park is a popular year-round destination for Japanese and foreigners alike. Although park rules don’t allow for barbeques or recreational sports, the accessible location makes it

One word about location. The plethora of train stations can be confusing; I often see out-of-towners and foreign visitors trying to get off at Yoyogi Station along the JR Yamanote Line, or Yoyogi-koen Station along the Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line, but you actually want to get off at Harajuku Station on the former, and Meiji-jingumae Station on the latter.

The park is divided into two areas: A section is the side adjacent to Meiji Shrine with the pond, fountains, and all the trees, and B section is the side with the track, soccer field, and outdoor stage.

The A section has a series of concentric paths perfect for jogging, but the most well-trodden route is the centermost path (1,167 m). Early in the morning you’ll see mostly foreign runners squeezing in a jog before work; in the evenings you’ll see Japanese salarymen and college students jogging away their daily stresses. The park becomes mostly deserted after 9:00 pm, and solo female runners should take caution.

Entry to the park is free, as are the running paths, but note that the park has no so-called runners’ stations—no changing rooms or showers, and a marked lack of lockers. Governor Koike, the ball is in your court on that one.

Serious runners take advantage of Hachiman-yu, a sento (public bath) a minute’s walk from either Yoyogi-hachiman Station on the Odakyu Line, or Yoyogi-koen Station on the Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line. As for me, I like to go for a jog or do some interval training whenever time allows.

The park has a dedicated cycling route intended for family use, but I hardly ever see anybody using it (bicycles are available for rent, for a fee). And the bicycle facilities—namely the garage for all the rental bikes—take up precious space. Seeing as how skateboarding will make its debut as an event in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, how about we change that space into a skateboarding park? Just my two cents.













Photo : ©RendezVous

The B section has a full-sized track and field, which is made available for public use—free of charge—a number of times a week (check the official website for details). Adjacent to the track are two basketball courts, which are first-come, first-served. On weekends, holidays, and weekday evenings, the courts can get pretty crowded with Japanese and expat players alike. Weekdays around noontime, on the other hand, you won’t have any trouble finding an open half-court to shoot some hoops. Perfect for a little three-on-three.

On the other side of the basketball courts is a large, largely unkept field intended for soccer and field hockey (available only by rental). I see it being used once in a blue moon, if that. If you ask me, it’s a shame, and the space would be much more lively if you were to build a bunch of tennis courts on top of it.

On the other side of the empty field is an outdoor stage that occasionally hosts events and live music once the weather warms up. But other than summer weekends, the stage is mostly dormant, staring out absent-mindedly at a wide-open space that apparently holds up to 20,000 people. Someday, I hope to put on a free rave in this space, complete with catering.

Next to all these facilities in B section is NHK Hall, and beyond that a number of Shibuya nightclubs—so this area is actually rich with music-related facilities venues. My dream is to grow that free rave into a gathering spanning multiple venues and multiple musical genres.


バスケット・コートも2面、無料で開放されています。土・日・祝日や平日の夕方などは、日本人だけでなく外国人も多く、かなり混雑することもありますが、平日の昼間は、ガラガラの状態です。3 on 3(3×3)などには、ぴったりなコートです。 B地区には、かなり大きなサッカー場/ホッケー場(有料)もあるのですが、ここは、全くと言っていいほど、利用されていません。僕個人としては、無料のテニスコートにしてくれればいいのになあと思っています。



Yoyogi Park/代々木公園
2-1 Yoyogi Kamizono-cho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 151-0052
〒151-0052 東京都渋谷区代々木神園町2-1

■Yoyogi National Gymnasium

Photo : ©RendezVous

Adjacent to Yoyogi Park is the Yoyogi National Gymnasium, an iconic part of the Shibuya skyline. (Like Yoyogi Park, the “Yoyogi” part is slightly misleading; whenever there’s a concert or sports event held at this facility, an untold number of people mistakenly get off at Yoyogi Station on the JR Yamanote Line.)

Next to the arena is a series of pay futsal courts made of synthetic grass, optimally located (close to the train station) but perhaps not smartly priced. I pass by the courts often, and my impression is that not many people are using them. These are national facilities, after all—how about making them more accessible to the people?




Yoyogi National Gymnasium/国立代々木競技場
2-1-1 Jinnan, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 150-0041
〒150-0041  東京都渋谷区神南2-1-1


■National Olympic Memorial Youth Center

Photo : ©RendezVous

This facility is located between Yoyogi-hachiman Station (or Yoyogi-koen Station on the Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line) and Sangubashi Station on the Odakyu Line. It’s a little off the beaten path, but depending on what you’re looking for, it can be very useful.

There are a number of conditions of use, but the center has meeting rooms and lodgings available at affordable prices, so it’s a little-known haven for foreigners and students in Tokyo for long-term stays.

Personally, I go here to use the swimming pool and tennis courts in the sports wing. Visitors can use the 25-meter indoor pool for a reasonable 420 yen per two hours (as of April 1, 2018). The tennis courts are a bit trickier, as there are just two on the roof of the building (both hard court), and getting a reservation on weekday evenings or weekends is near impossible. So I like to take advantage of weekday midday openings.

The most common surface in Japan is omni-court (synthetic grass with sand filling), which can throw off your game if you’re used to hard courts. So whenever I play tennis with non-Japanese players, I try to make it happen here.









National Olympic Memorial Youth Center/国立オリンピック記念青少年総合センター
3-1 Yoyogi Kamizono-cho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 151-0052
〒151-0052 東京都渋谷区代々木神園町3-1
TEL : +81-(0)3-3469-2525 (9:00~17:00)

■Yoyogi Fukamachi Mini Park

Photo : ©RendezVous

Yoyogi Fukamachi Mini Park is located across the street from Yoyogi Park’s west gate (FYI, the street is called Juniso-dori, and connects to Shinjuku). The synthetic grass surface is just a couple of years old, and the park is surrounded on all sides by netting, which makes it great not just for sprinting but also for throwing around a baseball or football, or kicking around a soccer ball (notice how I don’t say recreational sports, which the park somewhat frowns on).

From about 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm, the park is somewhat overrun by kids just out of school, but outside of that window you can usually expect to find plenty of open space. (On the weekends, however, the park is almost entirely reserved by soccer and baseball teams that use the space with the permission of Shibuya City, so it’s best to stay away. For details, check Shibuya City Office’s official website.)

A little further up Juniso-dori, and just opposite Yoyogi Park’s parking lot, is Shibuya Haru-no-Ogawa Play Park, a muddy paradise—in the best possible sense—where kids can let loose and get dirty. Nearby is Gold’s Gym Yoyogi Koen Premium. When it comes to tennis, putting on too much muscle can get in the way, so these days I keep the weight training to a minimum, but this gym has a high-end boutique feel that intrigues me.






Fukamachi Mini Park/深町公園
1-54-1 Tomigaya, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 151-0036
〒151-0063 東京都渋谷区富ヶ谷1-54-1

For nearly 20 years between 1977 and 1996, the roughly 2.2 km span running from the Yoyogi Park Koban (police box), through Omotesando, and all the way to the Aoyama-dori intersection was a hokosha tengoku (literally a “pedestrian paradise”, where a street is closed to motor traffic)—hoko-ten for short.

The section of road that bisects Yoyogi Park into A section and B section was especially vibrant as the breeding ground for various subcultures.
The Takenoko-zoku (a tribe of colorfully dressed teenage dancers blasting disco music from stereos) gathered in what would eventually number in the thousands, including future national idol Okita Hiroyuki; the all-male street performance unit Issei Fuubi Sepia launched the careers of actors Aikawa Sho and Toshiro Yanagiba; and let’s not forget the rockabilly dance crews, whose legacy is carried on by those who continue to let loose every Sunday in front of the main entrance of Yoyogi Park (at this point most of these greasers are OGs). The culture surrounding the thoroughfare also gave rise to so-called hoko-ten bands such as THE BOOM and JUN SKY WALKER(S).

In particular, the hill leading up from the koban was a sanctuary for skateboarders and roller skaters. At the time, the popularity of skateboarding was at a peak, and devotees flocked to two temples: Murasaki Sports on Takeshita-dori, and Stormy, located near Kiddy Land on Omotesando main street (both locations have since closed down, but both purveyors still live on). What’s more, Shibuya Hikarie’s predecessor Tokyu Bunka Kaikan housed a movie theater, planetarium, and on the roof, a half-pipe for skateboarders. Traces of that culture remain, whether it’s the plethora of skateboard-related stores that continue to operate in the surrounding neighborhoods, or the skateboarders that flock to the open area at the entrance to Yoyogi Park.

BigBrother was an early adopter before early adopters became a thing, so naturally, he found himself engrossed in the skateboarding scene. He tells me that at the hoko-ten, he was totally in his element (in his words, “C-chou”, an argot word that reverses the syllables of the Japanese phrase ii choushi).

At that time, ollies (where the rider and skateboard leap into the air) hadn’t become a thing yet, so it was mostly about slaloms and skating banks. And apparently, the basic test of any competent skateboarder was to slalom downhill in a serpentine pattern, then tic-tac all the way back up to the top of the hill without letting your feet touch the ground once.



また、THE BOOMやJUN SKY WALKER(S)などの“ホコ天バンド”が人気を集めました。また、交番の上の坂では、スケードボードやローラースケートをしている人がたくさんいました。





当時は、オーリー(ジャンプ)という技はなく、スラロームとバンクがメインだったそうです。 交番のある坂の上から下へカーヴィングターンのスラロームで下り、坂の下からチックタックで一番上まで、デッキに足を乗せたまま一気に登ることができるのが、1つのステイタスだったようです。