Look first at the photos of this post without dwelling on the place. We are in the Todoroki valley, and at first glance you will see photos of a lush, somewhat tropical forest, with a sanctuary nestled between the mountains and streams of cool, clear water. What if we told you that we are about 15 minutes from the dynamic and crowded Shibuya?
Continue reading if you can not believe what we have written (well, even if you believe)!
What kind of place is Todoroki Keikoku?
Torodoki gravine (in the Japanese valley is called “keikoku”) is a semi-wild path that runs for about 1.5 kilometers from Todoroki Station, on the Tokyu Oimachi Line, almost to the Tamagawa river, on the border between the district of Setagaya, in Tokyo and the city of Kawasaki (Kanagawa Prefecture). Shaped by the course of the Yazawa River, just contained by concrete walls, the park is left almost untouched in its natural vegetation. You will not find here flowerbeds, floral works or other elements of the beautiful public parks of Tokyo, but in their place you can understand how it was once, in fact, the native vegetation of Tokyo, before the urban expansion.
Your stroll starts about 3 minutes walk from Todoroki station. You will find yourself on an arched bridge, with a red deck. Already facing the bridge one understands that you are not going to enter a park like the others: the density of the vegetation, the green of the foliage, the impetuous climb of shrubs and leaves on the thick trunks of the older trees, all soaked in the sound of flowing of the water of the Yazawa stream.
You go down through a staircase of about 15 meters, where the temperature is lowered by about 2, 3 degrees compared to the surface (this is a great place to breathe during the hot and sultry summer of Tokyo), and from here begins a pleasant path that runs along the stream.
This walk is of course very much appreciated by the inhabitants of the district: you will find employees heading to the station on their commuting in the morning, students returning from school, the elderly and housewives who carry around their dogs, all in a never-to-be-happening comings that allows you to fully enjoy this incredible oasis of peace in the city.
Towards the end of the path, two points to stop and say that you have completed your walk: you will find a bridge over the Yazawa River, and the typical elements that remind you the presence of a sanctuary. Here in fact there is the Inari Daimyōjin, a Shinto chapel dedicated to the deity of the fox, Inari (whose famous representative is the Fushimi Inari of Kyoto), and at his side the Fudō waterfall. More than a waterfall, it is a continuous dripping of water that is released by the springs that are found here, and which has created a soft wall of moss all around.
Behind you you will find a very steep staircase: walk through it, and between twisted trunks and small altars placed between rocks and roots, you will arrive at Todoroki Fudōson, a Buddhist temple, this time, of the most important dimensions. Here is also a small kiosk where you can enjoy green tea, or typical Japanese wagashi sweets.
Once back at the river level, a last little surprise awaits you: entering from a small wooden portal, you will find yourself immersed in a small but poetic traditional Japanese garden, this time taken care of with paths, flowerbeds and other typical elements. Here we are struck by the tall bamboo stalks that grow on the hill that you are about to travel. The fronds, over 20 meters high above our heads, swayed by the wind, what a peace!
Here, basically, the route ends, and you can retrace your steps back to the station, or …
In the nearbies
If you have time, you can follow this path: by helping you with the map app of your phone, reach the bank of the Tama river. You will have to walk for about 10 to 15 minutes between a high-end residential neighborhood. We were impressed by the size of the houses, many with a large garden, and many foreign cars parked (in this area of Setagaya live many people belonging to the upper bourgeoisie of Tokyo).
Once you reach the river, you can walk, near the stream, upstream, and after a few minutes you will reach the Futako Tamagawa area. Around this station there is a large shopping area, with several quality shops, from objects to clothing and gastronomy, and in general a great urban vibe. Design and architecture is also a delight for the eyes, and it was a lot of fun to spend some time inside Tsutaya Electrica, a large store whose concept is based on books and home electronics. Inside the shop itself you will find some cafes, and you can then buy your book or favourite magazine (personally, I think Japanese magazines are beautifully realized!) !
At the end of your tour, from Futako Tamagawa station, take an express train from the Den-en-Toshi line, and in 10 minutes you will come back to Hachiko’s place, in Shibuya!
What are your impressions? This route can be a nice surprise for a half day to spend in the city, especially for a habitue of Tokyo, looking for new exotic spots to explore in the city!