The Parque Masayoshi Ohira is the largest Japanese garden in Mexico. It was designed and built as a symbol of the diplomatic friendship between Mexico and Japan. In the Country Club neighborhood, it’s very close to the CENARTS campus, and thus to the Calzada de Tlalpan and the Metro General Anaya station.
The park was opened in 1942 and referred to as the Parque de la Pagoda for many years there after. A fire in the 1970s consumed the pagoda, but the park is lovingly cared for, even to this day. Because it’s close to the Churubusco film studios, it’s often served as a film set.
A May 1980 visit by the Prime Minister of Japan, Masayoshi Ōhira marked the first official visit to Mexico by a Japanese head of government. This was to improve bilateral relations between the two countries. Unfortunately, Masayoshi Ōhira died only about a month later. He has been the only Japanese Prime Minister to die while in office in modern times.
The decision was made not only to remodel the park to give it a much more traditional Japanese design. The park was also renamed in the late Prime Minister. The remodeling included the torii gate in the middle of the lake.
In 2014, the Parque Masayoshi Ohira was again completely remodeled with funds donated by the Mexican-Japanese Association. They also donated cherry trees to be planted. The park’s reopening was attended by Tomonori Ōhira, daughter of the former Prime Minister.
In addition to the Japanese ornamentation, the park includes a home for the elderly. Numerous species of the trees native to Japan were planted, among them maples, peonies, wisterias, plum and cherry trees.
As a symbol for the friendship between the two countries, the park has been a remarkable success. As a wonderful park for a stroll and an afternoon, it’s even more so.