In Japan, public parks are pretty much a dime-a-dozen, which is why I never could have imagined myself ever getting particularly excited over any park. That is, until I was introduced to Daisen Park. My friend who accompanied me on my first visit, a Sakai native who has lived most of her life in the city, explained to me that this park is one of her favourite local places; and it’s easy to see why.
This excellently maintained green wonderland of a park is one of Osaka prefecture’s most beautiful outdoor spots you can visit any time of the year without paying a single yen. If you’re just looking for a quiet afternoon alone to relax, or perhaps the cheapest date possible, it’s difficult not to enjoy a peaceful day here among the abundance of gorgeous trees and flowers at almost any time of the year.
Rising triumphantly above the duck-spattered pond in its center is the pearly Peace Tower, the shadow of which seems to be a popular spot for the elderly to play board games. At eight o’clock in the morning it was amusing to hear the broadcasting of Greig’s “Morning Mood” from the tower’s speakers. Sitting by the pond, I was a little surprised to see a few fishermen casting their lines from its shore; what they expected to catch still remains a mystery to me.
Though you’ll always find plenty of locals engaging in various activities, the park is easily spacious enough that you’ll never find yourself pushing through a crowd and that you can stake out your own piece of territory within its 35 acres. If children are not content with playing in the park and its sprawling open field, they have their choice of a number of playgrounds or exploring the Jido no Mori (“children’s forest”). Located just beyond the park are plenty of small business and restaurants, Japanese and western-style alike. Of course, you may not even have to go that far for a bite to eat as on occasion food cart vendors can be found wandering the outskirts of the park. Public restrooms and vending machines are never far away either. Though sunny days make for the best visits, one can always seek shade under the many trees if they get too hot walking the winding trails or sitting on one of the plentiful benches.
The park also serves as a hub of sorts for much of the city, with many of Sakai’s significant places within walking distance. In addition to Sakai City Museum located within it, the Nintoku Kofun is immediately across the street. Also only a stone’s throw away are the Sakai City Urban Greenery Centre, Sakai Bicycle Museum and the city’s public library.
In addition to Nintoku, many other kofun (imperial tombs) that Sakai is well known for are scattered across the park. If you’re hoping for an up close look though, you may be disappointed as they are all fenced (and moated) off from the public.
For those of us that have become sick of Japan’s typical hectic urban scenes but still want the conveniences of the city, this park makes for a wonderful escape while still providing a nice slice of Japanese living whether you go alone or with friends and family.