It’s amazing what you can find by just scrolling through Google Maps in the search of something interesting. It’s a great way of discovering the likes of temples, parks or restaurants in local areas but I really did not expect to find a windmill in the capital city, let alone in Northern Tokyo relatively close to our home.
My wife and I headed about seven kilometres north of the Tokyo Fox Global Operations Centre in Itabashi-ku back in February. It was a fairly cloudy day then so I thought I’d return at the end of March by myself to try and get some better pictures on a brighter day with the hope of seeing the cherry blossoms in bloom.
There was a quick stop along the way at Mitsugi Park (4-59-1 Maenocho, Itabashi-ku) which is a place I discovered in the soft lockdown back in 2020 due to it’s large duck pond. Not surprisingly it is a popular spot for anglers, and there was a hint of cherry blossom on the trees which raised my hopes for the main attraction which followed about 10 minutes later.
Sadly, there was very little cherry blossom in Ukima Park (2-14 Funado, Itabashi-ku) which is supposedly famed for it’s cherry trees as well as colourful tulips and a Dutch style windmill with a carp pond. As the title of this post suggests I was there mainly to see the windmill and knew where it was this time but on the first visit I had been expecting something on a grander scale and didn’t instantly notice it across the lake.
Ukima Park is something of a paradise for attracting wild birds and indeed it is a popular place for birdwatching. A pamphlet about the area tells me that there are 14 types of resident birds, six Winter types and a couple of Summer ones. I assume that’s fairly impressive (by Tokyo standards at least!) but really don’t know!
You wouldn’t excpect to see a windmill in Japan but I have come across a few now. The most impressive one was in Sakura (Chiba Prefecture) but I do recall seeing a couple of similar scale in Yukarigaoka (Chiba) and Shinnan-yō (Yamaguchi) respectively. Look closely at the first picture of Ukima Park below and you can just about see the windmill but is completely dwarfed by the tower mansion next to it!
It’s not possible to enter the windmill but I was happy enough to just see it from the outside. It is surrounded by statues of the seven lucky gods of Japanese folklore (shichifukujin in Japanese) which are believed to grant good luck.
Following the river west for about three kilometres takes you to the Shingashi and Takashimadaira districts of Itabashi Ward. On a separate visit with my wife I became quite entranced by the beauty of things which most people would barely take any note of such as a tall incineration plant tower and gas cyclinders. I do have something of a history with both types having made great efforts to see a colourful and arty-looking garbage incineration plant in Osaka and the huge gas tank decorated to look like a fruit in Iwate Prefecture.
This water-tower in Shingashi 2-chome was the natural follow-up to the incineration plant seen in the tweet above.
Not so far from there is Itabashi Botanical Gardens (8-29-2 Takashimadaira, Itabashi-ku) which reproduces tropical rainforests from South-east Asia over three floors. Entrance is only 200 yen so I thought I’d take a quick look.
It was actually bigger than I thought it would be with a range of different forests (mangrove, tropical and cloud), and there was even an aquarium exhibiting creatures in various types of waters (sea, fresh etc).
Across the road from there is the small Takashimadaira branch of Itabashi Children’s Zoo (8-24-1 Takashimadaira, Itabashi-ku) which my wife and I went to on another trip.
There was another tower 15 minutes down the road in Narimasu 5-chome which I was on my way to see but I mistakenly took a wrong road and as it was a major road I couldn’t just turn around and undo my error so had to just continue on. I actually ended up in Akatsuka, and after checking my maps app I noticed that Tokyo Daibutsu was just a couple of minutes away so I decided to go and see that again.
Japan’s third largest bronze buddha is very much off the beaten track. It can be found at Jorenji Temple (5-28-3 Akatsuka, Itabashi-ku) which is a 20 minute walk from Shimo Akatsuka station on the Tobu Toju line. The giant Buddha, which is about 12.5m tall, was erected in 1977 in the hope that it would protect the area from war and natural disasters like earthquakes.
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