Walking out of the tiny Oji Station, to the northernmost edge of Asukayama Park, I was just in time to see the tiny monorail (nicknamed ‘Ascargot‘) slowly making it’s way down from the top of the park’s hill.
Feeling excited by the free ride, I lined up in the short queue and climbed into the tiny monorail. I was full of anticipation, but after a very slow two minutes, the monorail juddered to a halt at it’s one and only stop. I don’t know what I was expecting… maybe a faster, rollercoaster-type ride… maybe just a longer ride around the park… But now I saw that it was just an easy way to get to the top of the park.
No matter, however, because I could tell right away that this was a beautiful park. As I walked around, I found the regular statues and monuments that are often visible throughout all Tokyo public parks.
Eventually I came across a huge playground where kids of all sizes were messing around with their parents. And on one end of the play area were two old-looking trains. These trains, a former Toei 6000 series tram car and a JNR Class D51 steam locomotive, are perfectly preserved, and members of the public can play around in them.
At the southern end of the park, there are also three prominent museums: the Kita City Asukayama Museum (北区飛鳥山博物館), the Shibusawa Memorial Museum (渋沢史料館), and the Paper Museum (none of which I could enter as they were closed at the time of my visit). There was also the Old Shibusawa Garden adjacent to these museums, the tranquil garden of the original Shibusawa estate. In this well kempt area there were also two small buildings, the Bankoro Cottage and the Seien Bunko Library, dating back to the Taisho era (1912-26).
Overall, the Asukayama Park near Oji Station is definitely worth a visit. So if you are on a budget or low on money, then I definitely recommend taking the short ride in Ascargot and exploring the park on your own. (Just try not look like a pedophile while trying to take photos of the playground and old trains, like I did…)