Today I went to Nishiyama Park, which is in Sabae City, Fukui Prefecture, Japan. The Autumn Leaves Festival was being held there. There are about 1,600 Japanese maple trees in the park. Usually, you can enjoy seeing autumn leaves the best at Nishiyama Park from mid-November to late November.
This was my second trip to Nishiyama Park. I went there last May to see the azaleas, which Nishiyama Park is very well-known for. There are about 50,000 azaleas in the park. Last year, about 960,000 people came to the park, making it the third most popular sightseeing spot in Fukui Prefecture in 2017. (please read “I went to the 2019 Azalea Festival in Sabae.”)
Nishiyama Park has an interesting history. Akikatsu Manabe, the head of the Sabae clan, made a park for everyone to use as a recreational spot about 150 years ago. Surprisingly,Manabe himself helped with the labor needed to create the park. These are the roots of Nishiyama Park. It was very rare in Japan for feudal lords to make parks for public use.
I took the train to the park and went to the Kyoyo Gardens first. There’s a Japanese garden in Nishiyama Park. Some people were taking pictures of the red leaves. Japanese people enjoy seeing the red leaves in autumn. Next I went to Nishiyama Zoo.
There’s a zoo in Nishiyama Park and it’s free to go in. They say that the Nishiyama Zoo is the smallest zoo in Japan, but there are some very popular animals there. Do you know what they are? The red pandas are especially popular.
When I went to the zoo, a lot of people were watching the red pandas. I realized that they’re like movie stars. I was able to see nine red pandas. Besides the red pandas, there are also Japanese cranes, gibbons, peafowls and other animals in the zoo.
Finally, I went to a viewing platform. You have to go up a lot of steps to get there. There was a child in front of me who couldn’t go up by himself, so an adult was helping him up the steps. Since it was a little bit difficult for me to reach the viewing platform, the scenery was all the more beautiful.
I appreciate the head of the Sabae clan for making such a great park for people to enjoy.
＜Nishiyama Park Information＞
Open: 24 hours, 365 days
Access: A 20-minute walk from JR Sabae Station
A five-minute walk from Fukui Railway Nishiyama Park Station
＜Nishiyama Zoo Information＞
Open: 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m., closed Mondays (or Tuesday if Monday is a public holiday)