Masayoshi Ohira was Prime Minister of Japan between 1978 and his death in 1980. Much like Tomáš Masaryk, the founder of former Czechoslovakia, it might not make much sense why these non-Mexican political figures have features named after them in the country’s capital. While Avenida Presidente Masaryk is “Mexico City’s most expensive street,” the Masayoshi Ohira Park on the other hand is a small space of greenery in the south of the city.
While Masaryk might have never set foot in Mexico, Ohira did become the first Japanese Prime Minister to do so in 1980. Before this visit, however, the park already existed and was known as Parque de la Pagoda (Park of the Pagoda). Inaugurated in 1942, the park featured a “pagoda”-like structure as well as an East-Asian-inspired bridge. The structure burned down in the 1970s, however, after the park had been subject to general abandonment.
After Ohira’s visit in 1980, the park was renamed and remodeled in his honor that same year. The project created more buildings that contained more specific Japanese features such as torii gates. Another period of slow decline followed, until the park’s most recent reconstruction in 2015. That year, Akira Yamada, then Ambassador to Japan in Mexico, as well as Masayoshi’s grandson, Tomonori Ohira attended the rededication of the park. Along with other members of the Japanese-Mexican community, they donated one of the park’s newest features: several cherry trees.
Given its location near Mexico City’s major filmmaking center known as Churubusco Studios, the park was popular with film stars and even appeared in some movies in the 1940s and 1950s. After a fire, a new name, and a more culturally accurate identity, hopefully, the park will be able to have a second life after many-storied decades.
Know Before You Go
Nearest Metro station is General Anaya, on Line 2 (blue).