Yokoamicho Park (Tokyo), Commemorative monuments on the central plaza

Yokoamicho Park

Tokyo’s Memorial for 2 Tragedies of the 20th Century

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Yokoamicho is a public green space located in Ryogoku district in Tokyo. The place commemorates the many victims of 2 tragic events that hit the capital in the 20th century: the Great Kanto earthquake in 1923 and the Bombing of Tokyo during World War II (1939 - 1945).

An important commemorative site for the Tokyo inhabitants, Yokoamicho Park is lesser know by foreign tourists despite its location near Ryogoku station, where spectators flock to see one of the capital’s 3 yearly sumo tournaments at Kokugikan stadium.

First a military depot, this tract of land near the Sumida River became a public park in 1922. While still under construction, the neighborhood’s dwellers used it as an evacuation area following the Great Kanto earthquake on September 1rst, 1922, of the exceptional magnitude of 7,9. However, a firestorm, fueled by strong winds and the surrounding wooden houses, hit it and killed many of the refugees trapped in the garden, which did not have a pond at the time.

Yokoamicho Park (Tokyo), Statue to commemorate children who died due to disasters

Columbarium for the victims of the Great Kanto earthquake and the Bombing of Tokyo

In 1930, the city choose the park to build the Tokyo Metropolitan Memorial Hall, dedicated to the 58,000 victims of the Great Kanto earthquake. Architect Ito Chuta (1867 - 1954) designed a large 1.470 m² building to the back of which a 40,9 meters high 3-story pagoda stands and shelters the ashes of the deceased, in the manner of a columbarium (納骨堂 nokotsudo). Of a free access, the memorial both looks like a temple and a catholic church, and displays pictures showing scenes of chaos, as well as an altar for prayer and recollection in a solemn atmosphere.

The next year, Ito Chuta also achieved the Tokyo Reconstruction Memorial Hall, a museum commemorating the past tragedy and the return of wealth in the following years. In this museum, illustrations and photographs are displayed – that can be difficult to watch for sensitive visitors, as well as various mementos of the times collected on site after the earthquake.

Yokoamicho Park (Tokyo), Display in the Tokyo Reconstruction Memorial Hall

Another calamity was yet to be remembered: the aerial bombings that destroyed a large part of Tokyo from the end of 1944 to the beginning of 1945. Miraculously intact after World War II, Yokoamicho Park is once again designated to home a columbarium for the ashes of 105,000 victims of the American Bombing of Tokyo. The total number thus amounts to 163,000 deaths, to commemorate after the 2 great tragedies suffered by Tokyo in the 20th century.

In addition to the memorials and the few scattered monuments testimony of this heavy past, collective remembrance is made 2 times a year at the anniversary dates of the events:

  • On September 1rst for the Kanto earthquake, and,
  • On march 10 for the aerial bombings.

Yokoamicho Park (Tokyo), View on Tokyo Reconstruction Memorial Hall and the Tokyo SkyTree

A quiet neighborhood park

On the daily basis, Yokoamicho Park is nonetheless a typical urban green space:

  • Its alleys are lined with trees whose colors change following the seasons, such as plum, cherry trees, ginkgo biloba (whose leaf is the symbol of Tokyo), camellias and zelkovas;
  • A small Japanese garden is arranged around a typical pond, with lanterns, rocks and koi carps;
  • A children’s playground is also a gathering place for the neighborhoods moms with strollers.

The visit can easily include the adjacent old garden Kyu-Yasuda Teien and the Japanese Sword Museum.

⬇️ Further down this page, discover our visit guide in Yokoamicho Park and around.
By Kanpai Updated on September 01, 2023 Parc Yokoamicho