This is one of the great 花見 hanami cherry blossom viewing spots that no one ever talks about. While all the newbies default to Yoyogi Park, Ueno Park, Inokashira Park, and the Meguro River, many Tōkyōites in the know hit up Hikarigaoka Park.
During WWII, it was an airport for the Imperial Air Force. During the US Occupation, it was a military base. In the 1970’s, it was converted into a park. The name was chosen in 1969 when the former military base was reclaimed for residential development and public green space. While I’ve used the historic-seeming 光ヶ丘, the official spelling is the modern-looking 光が丘 – both read as Hikarigaoka. They wanted to choose a name that had an image of “sunshine and greenery.”
Hikarigaoka was chosen over 4 other candidates: 緑が丘 Midorigaoka Green Hill, 緑台 Midoridai Green Plateau, 青葉台Aobadai Green Leaf Plateau, and 若葉台 Wakabadai Young Leaf Plateau.
The area is residential and there’s not much to say about it from an historical perspective. But I once went to 光ヶ丘公園 Hikarigaoka Kōen Hikarigaoka Park for hanami. It’s an open an expansive park, similar to Yoyogi Park in central Tōkyō, but it’s far less crowded. It’s easy to get a spot under a cherry blossom tree and have a picnic with your group – much easier than it would be in most places in Tōkyō. There are many ways to do hanami, but I would characterize hanami here as “suburban.” When I went, I met a person with a pet bunny and another person with a pet monkey. It was awesome to drink with a bunny and a monkey[i]. That was a first.
[i] Just to be clear, the bunny didn’t actually drink… but damn, that monkey got fucked up.