Koyaike Park has a surprise when viewed from above.

Geographically speaking, Japan isn’t such a big country. Still, it’s not like you can just quickly stroll from one end to the other. Even if you’re traveling by the Shinkansen bullet train, it takes several hours just to traverse the main island of Honshu.

So it’s pretty surprising when you find out that not only is Koyaike Park inside Japan, but that Japan is inside Koyaike Park.

▼ Koyaike Park

Located in the town of Itami, Hyogo Prefecture, the “ike” part of Koyaike Park means “pond.” And sure enough, there are two ponds in the center of the park, with walking paths that ring them.

It’s a picturesque place, as you can see, with nice, expansive views from the waterline and the sky spreading out above, somewhat of a rarity in Japan where you’re so often surrounded by mountains in the countryside and skyscrapers in the city. But where things get really interesting is if you can see Koyaike from above…

…which reveals the map of Japan is sitting in the northern pond!

Though the pond is said to have originally been dug out by a monk in the Nara period of Japanese history (710-794), this natural manifestation of the Japanese archipelago isn’t a divine miracle, but instead that of clever city planners. Koyaike Park seasonally serves as a temporary home for migratory waterfowl and other birds, and to help make their stay as comfortable as possible, in the early ’70s the park’s management decided to build an island for them in the middle of the pond. Rather than just a boring circle or square, though, they chose to position a series of islands in the shapes and scale of the four main islands of the Japanese archipelago, Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku, and Kyushu.

▼ The in-park Japan is about 250 meters (820 feet) across.

Oh, and if Itami rings a bell, it might be because the city is also where you’ll find Osaka International Airport, which is also known as Itami Airport. The airport isn’t far from the park, just on the other side of the Inagawa River from it, and the park is often visible from airplanes shortly after takeoff.

So if you’re traveling through Osaka International, make sure to look out the window, and you just might see two views of Japan at once.

Park information
Koyaike Park / 昆陽池公園
Address: Hyogo-ken, Itami-shi, Koyaike 3

Source: Itami City via IT Media, Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Asahi Shimbun
Top image: Wikipedia/Bakkai
Insert images: Wikipedia/Bakkai
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