Toshimaen: Tokyo's Best Amusement Park?

 In America, Six Flags and Cedar Point fight over having the biggest, fastest, wildest rides. And when you're trying to appeal to a teenage and younger adult demographic that has become increasingly jaded, that war probably needs to be waged.
 I love those rides, too, but I prefer a park with lots of variety and several thrilling attractions I can ride over and over again. Magic Mountain has some amazing coasters, and I could go between X2, Riddler's Revenge, and Tatsu all day and be pretty happy. But Great America has Vortex, Top Gun (or whatever it's called now), and several flat rides that I can go on over and over again. Discovery Kingdom doesn't have any world-class coasters, but the rides at that park make it one of my favorite parks.
 Toshimaen is a theme park on the northeastern fringe of Tokyo, a short train ride from Ikebukuro. I don't think anything new for adults has been built there in a couple decades. But it's really fun, and perhaps the perfect "date" park.
 I visited in April last year, and the park's cherry trees were in full bloom.
 Keep this image in mind. You'll see this again later. And note the water park in the background.
 More cherry blossoms. I think this ended up being my "hanami" for the year.
 Continuing into the park, I saw a good number of people. Crowds were a bit high, but we still had fun.
 The "newer" rides seemed geared toward kids, though even those could have been about 10 years old.
 The park used to have four coasters, plus a Top Spin, which I usually enjoy. One of the coasters and the Top Spin left some time around 2008.
 The carousel is pretty nice, though, as carousels usually are.
 Have you seen the little piggies playing in the mud?
 The biggest mystery about the Mystery Zone ride was why it was so popular. We skipped it the first time around the park, although the line was much shorter late in the afternoon. It was a fairly short indoor ride that seemed to be a horror house. I think.
 Small rocking ship.
 The first coaster we rode was Corkscrew. Can you guess where that name came from? My friend was terrified of, well, every ride we went on, but she toughed it out and screamed and yelled and I think she gave me bruises from holding on so tight.
 We skipped the Auto Skooter.
 There's an open driving course on coin-operated rides, too. I never saw anyone use them.
 Corkscrew coasters are really attractive from the right angle, but can be pretty rough. This one wasn't too bad.
 As other visitors have noted, many attractions are on top of buildings. The buildings themselves hold other rides or attractions, or more commonly shops or restaurants.
 The park wasn't packed to the point that the lines were bad, and most people left a few hours after we arrived. The second coaster we rode was the largest in the park, the 1965 Cyclone. It has wooden log-themed cars with soft velour seats. Again, Akiko was really scared, but she ended up enjoying the ride. She discovered that the slower rides were more frightening than the fast ones. Oddly, she's been skydiving several times. Cyclone is pretty fun and gives great views of the park as it travels from one end to the other.
 Here's a shot from one of the high points on Cyclone. Mini Cyclone, the kid's ride opened in 2009, is visible behind the inflatable rides. I think this area was where the Shuttle Loop coaster or Top Spin was.
 Cherry blossoms are pretty.
 Here's Mini Cyclone. The trains are designed to look like the full-sized Cyclone trains, without the nice soft seats.
 Once the sun went down, the park got pretty empty. And after getting her on all the other rides in the park, I finally convinced Akiko to ride the giant swinging pirate ship. This was my first one of these, although I've been on the smaller ones several times before. Akiko was absolutely frightened of this ride... again, she's been skydiving several times. It ended up being my favorite ride in the park probably because of how scared she was. I managed to get her on the ride a few more times, though. So she was adjusting well... and quite the trooper. This is a dual-ship arrangement, though only one was running all day.
 Once the sun goes down, the lights go on. The park had a Vegas-style lighting "show" or display at night, which for most of the park was just lots and lots of Christmas lights.
 Lights on trees, lights on buildings...
 Lights to create pavilions of sorts...
 It's all quite nice, really, and very colorful. I didn't realize this was going on when we went.
 Mystery Zone was empty by this point. But why is this a "Vegas" display of lights?
 One portion of the park, near the Mystery Zone, had several Vegas sign-style light displays. They were somewhat reminiscent of the neon lights of Vegas.
 The entire display was visible from one spot, instead of spread out across the park.
 The lights were everywhere in the park, but those Vegas-style signs were in only one part of the park.
 One of the benefits of staying late was that the cherry trees were lit up with floodlights. I'm not obsessed with cherry blossoms, but it's still pretty.
Here's that entry garden from the beginning of the post, now all lit up for the night.

This is a classic park, which doesn't really have a lot of super thrill rides, but there are tons of older "carnival" rides that make this place perfect for a date. Or just a fun day out with friends. With Fuji-Q a full day trip (2 hours away by bus) and even Yomiuriland a bit outside of town, Toshimaen may be the best park Tokyo's cities have to offer. And let me lament once again that this park could use one or two more fun, unique coasters and a few new thrilling flat rides. Many of the ones that exist came out of the 1970s or 1980s. It's fun, but I'm going to be honest - this park needs to modernize just a bit.

The park does an all you can eat and drink event for lunch and dinner in March and April to coincide with the cherry blossom season, and the lights will be back in 2014 from March 21 (yesterday) through April 6. Some sort of cosplay event goes on two or three weekends a month. One Sunday a month, there's a flea market (200 yen admission fee, which might include park admission).

Admission only is 1000 yen, and you can pay per ride. All-day ride passes are 4200 yen. The park usually opens at 10, closing as early as 4 on off-peak weekdays, staying open until as late as 9 PM during the peak cherry blossom season. Toshimaen is closed most Tuesdays and Wednesdays, except during peak seasons (cherry blossoms, Golden Week and other holidays, etc).

The train is the easiest access, via Toshimaen Station. The Oedo Subway Line (20 minutes from Shinjuku, trains every 4-6 minutes) is two minutes' walk from the park, with the Seibu Toshima (Ikebukuro) Line (14 minutes from Ikebukuro, direct trains about every 15 minutes) being right next to the gates.


  1. Very cool amusement park. Those cherry blossoms are beautiful!

  2. Yeah, I like the park and the blossoms! I've been wanting to go back again for the past year but I've just been too busy with other things.