Live at the Budokan! While the Budokan is famous abroad for hosting acts like the Beatles, Cheap Trick, and Bob Dylan, it was originaly built to house the judo events for the 1964 Summer Olympics and is officially called the Nippon Budokan (“Japan Martial Arts Hall”). Though many opposed the Beatles defiling a martial arts arena with western pop music, the site is now frequently used for musical events and pro wrestling. Though there are larger arenas in Japan, playing at the Budokan is seen as the ultimate proof a Japanese group has made it big. In fact, the day we investigated we couldn’t get inside due to a concert!
Right between Yasukuni Shrine and the Imperial Palace, the Budokan is a mere two minute walk from Kudanshita Subway station. The Budokan is not surrounded by expansive parking lots, but instead situated in the lovely Kitanomaru Park. It is actually the park we will talk about here.
To get to the Budokan/Kitanomaru park, you will need to get off at Kudanshita Station – which has access from the following train lines:
- Toei Shinjuku Line (S-05)
- Tokyo Metro Hanzōmon Line (Z-06)
- Tokyo Metro Tōzai Line (T-07)
The station is a bit deep which means you may have to take up to three elevators to get up to the surface. The elevators are standard sized (a wheelchair can turn around inside) and have buttons that are reachable by a wheelchair user. The toilets are very clean and large – they even have a changing bed inside! If you want to know how the station is laid out, please click here for the Tokyo Metro Station layout and here for the Toei Station layout.
After exiting the station and heading left, you will be greeted with a rather steep walk to the entrance. An electric wheelchair can handle it, but a manual wheelchair user might be in for a long push. Slow walkers may also face a bit of a challenge.
In the Park
Kitanomaru Park was originally the location of the northernmost section of Edo Castle and was used as both a medicinal garden and a secure residential compound for members of the Shogun’s extended family. The park is has deep moats and defensive fortifications dating back to 1685 – making it one of the oldest surviving parts of the old castle.
Besides the Budokan, the park has a small cafeteria/cafe, an open lawn, wooded areas, and some streams. In the spring it is a great spot to relax and enjoy the cherry blossoms.
Getting to the park from the road means going up a steep path which may mean assistance is needed for those in manual wheelchairs and a difficult climb for those with other mobility challenges. Once inside, the park has paths that are can be rough in some spaces. While curbs are cut, there are a few that are a bit steep and a few places have a step of about 5cm. While roughly 90% of the paths are accessible, a few are not accessible.
There are four wheelchair accessible toilets available in the park. They are a bit old and have no heating, but are fairly spacious. Unfortunately, they have some drawbacks: there are no backrests on the toilets, and they are locked up in the early afternoon.
Here is a lovely slideshow of toilets!
This isn’t a common tourist destination unless you are a music buff. However, it is right next to the Imperial Palace, so you could easily combine the two. By far, the best time to go is in the spring to enjoy the cherry blossoms. In terms of accessibility, it is not bad. The there are wheelchair accessible toilets (albeit, not great ones) and the vast majority of the park is accessible. Unfortunately, getting to the park does feature a steep hill and entrance as well as rough walkways and curb-cuts that can be a bit steep. If those things are a put off for you, this is not a “must see” spot, so don’t worry.
Featured image “Nippon Budokan 2010” by Wiiii – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons