JIYUGAOKA / FUTAKO-TAMAGAWA
According to a survey researching images of towns in Tokyo from residents in the Metropolitan area, conducted by Nihon Keizai Shimbun in June 2007, Futako-Tamagawa was selected as the fourth most popular town to raise children. Meanwhile, Jiyugaoka was selected as the fourth most preferable town for single life. Although both towns are accessible from Shibuya, being 10 minutes by train and within the 23 wards of Tokyo, these areas still are surrounded by trees and have a peaceful atmosphere. Sophisticated shops and cafes in the quiet residential areas attract fashionable city dwellers.
Peaceful time in Tokyo
If you descend the spiral steps in front of Golf Bridge near Todoroki Station on the Tokyu Oimachi Line, you reach the promenade in Todoroki-keikoku Valley along the Yazawa River. The 1 km long valley is the only valley in the 23 wards in Tokyo. The depth of the valley from top to bottom is about 10 m and is covered with trees. Wild birds that are rarely seen in urban areas can be seen here.
Crossing a bridge in the middle of the promenade and going up a slope, you see ‘cave-hole-type’ ancient tombs that are assumed to have been built in the later half of the 7th into the 8th century. You can see inside one of the tombs through a glass window. More than six ancient tombs have been found. Earthenware, metal earrings and glass beads have been discovered as well as bones of a man, woman and child.
If you go further along the valley, you see Fudo-no-taki Falls. The waterfall is a place for disciplinants to train and even now, some ascetic monks in the Kanto region visit here to train. Ascending the steps, you find the main hall of Todoroki Fudoson Temple. On the way to the temple there is a Japanese sweet shop. Why not take a break to drink powdered, green tea and eat sweets whilst viewing the valley and enjoying the breeze.
Futako-Tamagawa and riverbed of Tama River
Tamagawa Takashimaya Department Store and fashionable large-scale buildings stand near Futako-Tamagawa Station and sophisticated ladies enjoy shopping. If you pass Takashimaya and ascend the slope of Route 246, you see a building containing the Seta Onsen hot spring named, “Sanga-no-yu.”
From the outside it is impossible to imagine how quiet it really is inside the building. The huge site of 4,000 tsubo (about 1,100 sq. m.) was the site of an old house of the Tokugawa family in Mito and is surrounded by trees some of which are 200 years old. Birds chirping can be heard.
If you head in the opposite direction from the station, within five minutes, you reach the riverbed of the Tama River. The open space spreads along the slowly flowing river. People enjoy fishing, boating and seeing fireworks displays in summer. Views of snowy Mount Fuji in winter and Mount Fuji in sunset are stunning. Mountains in the Kanto region can be seen on clear days.
If you are too tired to walk around Jiyugaoka, why not visit Kumano Shrine? The precincts are quiet, surrounded by lush trees like ‘keyaki zelkova’ and oaks, and makes you forget the hustle and bustle of the city. A vermillion lacquered prayer hall in the back of the approach is small but has a solemn atmosphere.
Joshin-ji Temple and Kuhonbutsu Ryokudo (Green road)
When you get off at Kuhonbutsu Station on the Tokyu Oimachi Line, you find an approach toward a big temple named Joshin-ji Temple in front of the station. Nine large Bodhisattva statues are enshrined in the temple. The precincts are large and quiet, considering the temple is in the town. Kuhonbutsu Ryokudo is a sophisticated walking road, which is 2.2 km long and connects Kuhonbutsu and Midorigaoka Stations.
The Tokyu Toyoko and Oimachi lines cross at Jiyugaoka Station. Although access to Jiyugaoka is very convenient from the heart of Tokyo, the town creates a somewhat different atmosphere from Tokyo. As it is in a residential area, Jiyugaoka offers a little bit peaceful and relaxing feel. However, it is crowded with people who enjoy shopping at interior shops and fashion shops, visiting cafes and sweet shops on weekends. There are also attractive flower shops and restaurants.
When you take the front exit from the station, you find a bus rotary. At the corner of the rotary, there is Hachi-no-ya, a venerable Japanese sweet shop.
Turning to the right you see Jiyugaoka Department Store along the elevated Toyoko rail Line. The origin of Jiyugaoka Department Store stems from around 100 merchants opening a market after the war in 1952. It creates a retro atmosphere.
Opposite Jiyugaoka Department store is MONT-BLANC. Opened in 1933, this is a cake shop that first sold the cake, Mont Blanc (aux maroons) in Japan. If you follow the rail line, the headquarters of Kameya Mannendo appears. It is a famous sweet shop in Jiyugaoka. Before the shop, turning left, you see Kumano Shrine. Passing the shrine, turning right and going straight, there is La Vita. With canals, it looks like Venice in Italy and popular for shooting TV dramas.
If you take the south exit from the station you are in Marie Claire Street. The street running parallel with Marie Claire is Green Street and is full of fashionable shops and cafes. The street trees are beautiful and benches are situated along here. If you go eastward on Green Street, you find ‘Sweets Forest’ in a quiet area. It is a food theme park opened in November 2003.
If you go westward on Marie Claire Street, following the rail from the station, you reach Trainchi. A sophisticated place opened in October 2006. Fashion shops, interior shops and cafe are attractive.
There are tons of other fascinating shops and cafes in the town. Why not enjoy a relaxing walking and find your favorite places?