Best parks for families near Tokyo: Forest for the 21st Century

Looking for a spacious park near Tokyo to relax with your family? Forest and Park for the 21st Century (Nijuisseiki no Mori to Hiroba, 21世紀の森と広場) in Matsudo City, Chiba, is the place for you! 

It is one of the largest parks in the Tokyo area, with two vast meadows, a sizable pond, wild bird sanctuaries and a botanical garden. In the north part of the park there is a small camping ground and a barbecue area. In the south you will find a museum, a concert hall and a library. 

This is my one favourite destinations for some quality family time.

The main attractions at the Forest and Park for the 21st Century

Forest and Park for the 21st Century can be divided into several sections, each with a slightly different theme to them. 

Forest and Park for the 21st century Park map

The ‘wilderness’

The area surrounding the Sendabori Pond (千駄堀池) in the northwest is the ‘wildest’ part of the park. The northern corner of the area is a sizeable bird sanctuary, not accessible to the public. 

Forest and Park for the 21st century bid sanctuary
pond and wild bird sanctuary

Just to the south of the bird sanctuary, there is a botanical garden – a rather unkempt-looking area devoted to preservation of plants natural to this part of Japan. It’s worth a visit if you are feeling adventurous and are not afraid of mosquitoes.

The coffee shop area

If you are looking for some open sky, and a cup of coffee, visit the coffee shop at the southern end of the Sendabori pond. 

The coffee shop is open Tuesday-Sunday:
10:00-18:00 in the Summer (from July 21 to August 20),
10:00-16:00 in the Winter (from November 1 to the end of February)
and 10:00-16:30 during the rest of the year.

Coffee shop in the Forest and Park for the 21st century

Next to the coffee shop there is a paved plaza with small streams called the Mizu to Kokage no Hiroba (水とこかげの広場). This paved area is very popular with children who like to play in the shallow water and under the bridge. It also serves as a corridor connecting the north, east and south parts of the park.

bridge, stream and coffee shop in the Forest and Park for the 21st century

The village and fields

The area south of the Sendabori Pond looks like a Japanese village of old. This part of the park is called Midori no Sato (みどりの里). Here you can find fields of sunflowers and rice, fruit orchards and a small restaurant called Sato no Chaya (里の茶屋) serving tea, sweets and soba noodles. 

The restaurant is open Tuesday-Sunday:
10:00-17:30 in the Summer (from July 21 to August 20),
10:00- 16:00 in the Winter (from November 1 to the end of February),
and 10:00-16:30 during the rest of the year.

The Matsudo Municipal Museum

On the wooded hill towards the east, there is the Matsudo Municipal Museum (松戸市立博物館) devoted to the local history of the area. There are various workshops and seminars organized throughout the year. The Museum is open Tuesday-Sunday from 9:00 to 17:00 (enter by 16:30). The entrance fee is 310 yen for adults and 150 yen for elementary and middle school children.

By Higa4Own work, CC0, Link

The meadows

There are two vast meadows in the Forest and Park for the 21st Century. One, called Tsudoi no Hiroba (つどいの広場), is located south of the village area. The second, called Hikari to Kaze no Hiroba (光と風の広場) is situated east of the coffee shop area. Both are popular spots for picnics and ball games. Young children also gather near the trees lining the grass to search for interesting insects. If you are looking for a quieter spot, your best bet is to head for the Tsudoi no Hiroba.

meadow area south of the coffee shop in the forest and park for the 21st century
people playing a ball game at the Forest and park for the 21st century

The barbecue and picnic area

If barbecue is your thing, head to the north part of the park and the Komorebi no Mori (木もれ陽の森). The barbecue area is about 9000 m2. There is a shop selling barbecue sets and other useful items, a roofed food preparation area, tables and seats and a ‘free area’ where you can spread out your picnic blankets.

The barbecue area is open:
9:00-17:30 in the summer,
9:00-15:30 in the winter,
and 9:00-16:00 during the rest of the year.

To use the barbecue area, you need to make a reservation by phone (047-385-1815 or 047-384-2234), online or in person at the park office. The places sell out fast, so I would recommend booking a spot well in advance.

The fees are reasonable:
1000 yen for a table in the roofed area (can seat up to 10 people),
600 yen for a table and benches set (can seat up to 8 people),
and free if you are using the free space area (5m x 5m) and have your own tables/chairs/blankets.

You can buy barbecue food and coal or wood at the shop near the entrance. They also rent knives, cutting boards, pots and pans so you can get everything you need at the park. 

The camping ground is comparatively small. It usually operates between April and October.

Barbecue area entrance

How to get there

The Forest and Park for the 21st Century is in Matsudo City, Chiba. It is best accessed by car, but there are also busses running between various train stations and the park. 

By public transport

The closest train stations are the Yabashira station (八柱駅) on the Shin-Keisei line and the Shin-Yahashira station (新八柱駅) on the JR Sobu line. It takes about 15 minutes to walk from the stations to the central gate of the park.

If you would rather go by bus, there are three options offered by Keisei Bus:

1) from the Yabashira station’s South exit take the bus for Koganehara Danchi (小金原団地循環) or Shin-Matsudo Station (新松戸駅) and get off at the Koen Chuo Guchi (公園中央口) bus stop.

2) from the Mabashi station (馬橋駅) on the JR Joban line, take the bus for Tokiwadaira Eki Kitaguchi (常盤平駅北口) and get off at the Mizusuna (水砂) bus stop if you are using the West park entrance, or the Hachiharadai bus stop (八原台) if you are going to the North park entrance.

3) from the Shin-Matsudo station, take the bus for Yabashira station and get off at the Hachiharadai bus stop for the North park entrance or the Koen Chuo Guchi bus stop for the central gate.

By car

There are four parking lots (all paid) on the North (168 places), South (131 places), East (323 places) and West (225 places). The South parking lot is operating only on the weekends and national holidays. The North, South and East parking lots are 500 yen (one time fee). The West parking lot is 100 yen for the first hour, 200 yen for the first 2 hours, 300 yen for the first three hours, and 500 yen if you use it for over 3 hours.

Basic information

269 Sendabori, Matsudo, Chiba 270-2252

Opening hours:
9:00-18:30 from July 21 to August 20
9:00-16:30 from November 1 to end of February
*Closed between December 30 and January 1

Bicycles and dogs are not allowed inside the park

Official websites:
21st Century Forest and Square
Barbecue space
Matsudo Municipal Museum

Please share

If you have found information in this post useful or interesting, please like it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.