Tsuruma (not Tsurumai) Park is a much-loved spot to enjoy not only the cherry blossoms in spring but a wide variety of flora in any season. Let's take a brief look at Tsuruma Park and some of the numerous architectural features, monuments and other discoveries to be made as you explore the grand old park.
Opening in 1909, Tsuruma Park was the first public park to be established by the City of Nagoya. The park is particularly known for its cherry blossoms, roses, and irises, and is beloved by residents as a place for rest, sports, and recreation. The fusion of Japanese and Western landscaping and features such as the Fountain Tower and Sogakudo Bandstand hint at the park's history. In July 2009, almost all of the park was designated a National Registered Monument (Place of Scenic Beauty).
A park is born 公園の誕生
Although the system of public parks in Japan was introduced by decree of the Great Council of State in 1873, it was some time before the dream of a grand park in Nagoya was to be realized. Then, the excess soil generated from construction work from 1905 to convert the former Shojingawa River into the present-day Shin-Horikawa River, coupled with the need to secure a venue for the upcoming 10th Kansai Area Prefectural Union Joint Exposition in 1910, prompted the acquisition of a stretch of rural land in what was then Gokiso Village, Aichi District, and the long-awaited creation of a large park. The name Tsuruma Park was officially designated on 19 November 1909.
This signboard features the name of the park as written in the hand of the prime minister at the time the park opened in 1909, army general Katsura Taro. Originally hung from the JR Chuo Line girder bridge, which also formed the park's main entrance, the original bronze panel was removed during the wartime metal shortage to contribute to the war effort, and replaced with a concrete substitute until a bronze replica was restored in 1966. The panel was removed for administrative reasons from February 2016, and installed in a flower bed at the main entrance in October 2019.
■Fountain Tower 噴水塔
The 10th Kansai Area Prefectural Union Joint Exposition was held at Tsuruma Park in 1910. The Fountain Tower adorned the venue's main entrance plaza, and has been an iconic feature of Tsuruma Park ever since. Designed by architect Suzuki Teiji, the fountain blends Western and Japanese aesthetics, with Roman-style marble columns and rock garden design elements. Removed temporarily during construction of the third subway line (Tsurumai Line), it was restored in 1977, and was designated a Cultural Property of Nagoya City on 27 May 1961.
■Nagoya Civic Assembly Hall 名古屋市公会堂
At the time of its opening in 1930, this 3,000-capacity hall was hailed as one of the largest halls in the country. Surviving the wartime air raids and requisition during the occupation, the hall remains a popular venue for concerts, lectures, contests, ceremonies, and other events. The refined facade of the building, with its contrasting lines and arches, stands in harmony with the greenery of the surrounding park.
■Sogakudo Bandstand 奏楽堂
A central structure where various musical performances were presented at the 1910 Exposition. An Italian Renaissance-style dome with Art Nouveau embellishments, this structure was also designed by Suzuki Teiji. The original structure was removed in 1934 due to deterioration, replaced by a bandstand in a different style from 1936 to 1995. A replica of the original Sogakudo was built in 1997.
■Suzuna Bridge 鈴菜橋
Serving as the entrance to the strolling-style Japanese garden since the 1910 Exposition, the bridge was originally an authentic Japanese wooden arched bridge. After the war, occupation forces filled in the southern half of the Kochogaike Pond, and the bridge was also removed. In 1955, the pond was restored and the bridge rebuilt in reinforced concrete.
■Former Zoo Site 旧動物園跡
After the privately-owned Namikoshi Educational Zoo (formerly located in Osu) donated its collection to the city, the Nagoya City Zoo operated on this site from April 1918 until it relocated to the current Higashiyama Zoo site in 1937. The 1.2-hectare facility featured around 800 animals and 250 species. Only the two entrance gateposts remain.
■Kaku-kaku-tei Teahouse 鶴々亭
In the fall of 1928, an exposition commemorating the ascension of the Emperor Showa (Hirohito) and promoting industry and culture was held throughout Tsuruma Park. The Kaku-kaku-tei Teahouse was originally constructed for the exposition as a showcase pavillion for the Nagoya Lumber Industry and Dealers Association, using the highest quality Kiso cypress.
■Universal Suffrage Memorial Stage 普選記念壇
An outdoor stage commemorating the General Election Law (enacted 1925), erected in 1928 by the Nagoya Shimbun (predecessor of the Chunichi Shimbun newspaper). The walls are inscribed with the 5-point Charter Oath (the fundamental spirit of general elections), an English translation, and the inspiration behind the monument's construction. The bronze plaques were lost during the war, and restored in 1972. A designated Cultural Property of Nagoya City, registered on 27 May 1986.
■Site of Kato Takaaki Statue 加藤高明伯銅像跡
Despite appearing to be a stone monument, this is actually the pedestal for a statue erected here in honor of Count Kato Takaaki, a prime minister and native of Aichi Prefecture, by a statue construction committee in 1928. In 1944, amid a lack of wartime resources, the statue itself was removed to contribute to the war effort.
■Imperial Exhortation to Youth Monument 青年団令旨碑壇
A monument erected on 21 November 1930 by the Nagoya Federation of Youth Groups. Founded in 1919, the Federation was the overseeing body for the youth groups (young people's organizations for self-discipline, fellowship, and voluntary social service) active within Nagoya City. In commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the imperial exhortation to promote youth groups' spirit of service, the text of the exhortation was incorporated into the monument. The original bronze plate bearing the exhortation is thought to have been lost when it was removed as a contribution of metal for the war effort during the Second World War. The current exhortation in the center of the monument is made from cement mortar.
■Hachimanyama Burial Mound 八幡山古墳
Designated a National Historic Site in 1931, this is the largest round burial mound in Aichi Prefecture, measuring 10 meters high and 82 meters in diameter, and surrounded by a moat. At the time the mound was incorporated into Tsuruma Park in 1919, it was covered in old pines, which were cut down during the war to make way for an anti-aircraft gun placement. More trees were planted after the war, and in 1982 Hachimanyama was designated a Special Greenery Conservation Area.