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Hiking in Nagoya City: Higashiyama Park

Where can you go to refresh yourself while in Nagoya city?

Nagoya has a lot of options for shoppers and people interested in history. Are you looking for some new fashion? Go to Nagoya Station or one of the many department stores in Sakae. Do you want to adventure into the past? Head to Nagoya Castle or take a stroll around Arimatsu. But what if you want to stretch your legs and get some exercise? Make your way over to Higashiyama Park.

Higashiyama Park is a vast park that combines a zoo and a botanical garden. Admission is only ¥500 (free for junior high school students and younger). There is enough here for you to enjoy yourself for an entire day. From Nagoya Station, take the Higashiyama Subway Line for 18 minutes to Higashiyama Koen Station, and as soon as you step out of the station, you will see the park's main gate.

The zoo and botanical gardens are a great way to spend your day. But you can enjoy the park without entering them.

There is a hiking course known as the 10,000 Steps Course around Higashiyama Park. The course's total length is 6.2 km and takes about two hours to complete at a leisurely pace. Considering its proximity to the city center, it is a somewhat challenging hiking trail. There are plenty of rest areas along the way and signs indicating your location every 100 meters, so don't worry about getting lost. Taking a walk on this forest path in the city lets you enjoy nature without having to travel too far.

Below is a summary of the highlights of the course from start to finish. The times below are for a brisk walking pace, so it may take a bit longer if you want to walk slower.

  • 2:45 PM

    People are always crowding the main gate of Higashiyama Zoo and Botanical Gardens, and it is also the start and endpoint of the course. Walk over to the left side and start by following the park wall.

  • 2:47 PM

    The park opened in 1937, and the old brick exterior lends a sense of history to the park. You will hear the voices of children as the zoo's monorail passes overhead.

  • 2:52 PM

    Continue moving forward while keeping Kamiike Gate on your right, and you will come to a traffic light. Follow the arrow, cross the street, and go diagonally to the left.

  • 2:54 PM

    After crossing the street, you'll see a tag numbered 7. It marks the entrance of the hiking path in the forest.

  • 3:04 PM

    Near tag 16, tables and benches line the course. If you are feeling tired, sit down and take a break. Many families come here to enjoy an outdoor lunch.

  • 3:07 PM

    Between tags, 16 to 22 is one of the most pleasant sections of the course.

  • 3:09 PM

    Here you can see Nagoya's eastern city center from between the trees. On a clear winter day, you can even see snow-capped Mt. Ontake between Nagano and Gifu Prefectures.

  • 3:18 PM

    Near tags 28-29, go down the stairs and exit onto a paved road. Continue straight ahead to the park's Kamiike Gate at the end of the street. You'll pass this area again later in the course.

  • 3:23 PM

    At Kamiike Gate, cross the traffic light on the left, pointed at by the arrow on the red sign.

  • 3:26 PM

    You'll return to the hiking path in the forest. Many joggers and hikers enjoy this path.

  • 3:32 PM

    At tag 38, you'll see a long staircase. Pull up your bootstraps and hit those stairs. At the bottom is a fantastic section of the hike.

  • 3:37 PM

    Between tags 40 to 42, you are immersed in the atmosphere of the forest. A forested area like this is rare in a city as big as Nagoya.

  • 3:40 PM

    Near tag 44, exit the forest track and follow the sidewalk along the roadway for a while.

  • 3:44 PM

    Look to your left to see the landmark of Higashiyama Park, the Sky Tower.

  • 3:47 PM

    As you walk along the sidewalk, you'll reach tag 50. Head down the stairs until you get to tag 51.

  • 3:48 PM

    The course rejoins the path we passed 30 minutes ago at tag 28. Now we'll go back to Kamiike Gate.

  • Return to the park gate at 3:53 PM

    Returning to Kamiike Gate, cross the traffic light in the direction indicated by the blue sign and continue along Higashiyama Park's fence.

  • 3:57 PM

    Peak through the fence to see Kamiike Pond with many boats floating on it.

  • 4:05 PM

    And we are back where we started. All done!

Japan's urban centers are massive and sprawling. Sometimes a walk among the trees is the break you need. Whether on a trip to Higashiyama Park or just hiking the trail on its own, this path is easy to enjoy in an afternoon. It is an easy two-hour hike and easily accessible from the city center, so feel free to come whenever you need a taste of nature.

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