Thursday 14 May 2015

An oasis of green in the middle of Tokyo - Todoroki Valley

Hi, sorry for the break.  I took a trip back to Australia for a friend's wedding and hadn't had time to go anywhere recently, so I apologise for not having written anything for the last month.  I did, however, have a chance to go somewhere interesting today.  A few people had told me about a nice little place nestled in the middle of Setagaya ward, one of the wealthiest wards in Tokyo.  I decided to go and check it out today.

I think most people who live in Tokyo would agree that there are times when you just feel like escaping the concrete, the hustle and bustle and the noise which is Tokyo.  There are plenty of places in and nearby Tokyo where you can do just that.  Today's post is about one of these places, Todoroki Valley.

Todoroki valley is the only remaining natural valley in Tokyo  It runs 10 metres deep for about 1 kilometre from right next to Todoroki station on the Tokyu Oimachi line off in the direction of the Tama River (the Yazawa river which runs through the valley is a tributary of the Tama River).  It is home to a mass of nature and wildlife and also to an old temple that dates back over 1,000 years.

Within minutes of exiting the station I was standing at the entrance to the valley (there is a map inside the station that points you in the right direction).

A wander across the road leads you to the steps which take you down into the valley.

A word of warning here.  If you are not too steady on your feet, please be careful.  Some of the steps in Todoroki Valley are pretty steep and I imagine some places would be a little slippery in the rain.

There was also a friendly local greeting everyone who made their way down the steps.

Suddenly I entered a world so different to the one I had just left.  Whereas before I was walking around urban jungle, now I had entered a regular jungle, thick overhead canopy of tree foliage blocking out most of the sounds of the city.  Save for the occasional noisy motorcycle, nothing but water gurgling and birds chirping could be heard.

The day I went there happened to be in the middle of Golden Week which is a traditional holiday period in Japan, but Todoroki Valley was not very busy at all and I was able to enjoy a peaceful walk along the river.

My eyes which had now been in this easy on the eyes shade produced by the lush overhead branches for a good 20 minutes were suddenly blinded as I came upon a break in the vegetation!

Damn, I wasn't ready for that!

Eyes watering and stars dancing across my vision, I continued my way along the valley, hoping for no more intrusions like that!

Reaching the far end of the valley, I found the old temple, Todoroki Fudo Temple.  One of the first things I saw was a couple of waterfalls which I found out, were or are used for ritualistic Shinto purification.  I cannot imagine standing under these praying for divine revelation in the middle of winter, but at least the water flow was not Niagara-like!

Reaching the Temple itself required climbing some pretty steep stairs, so, again, if you are a bit unsteady on your feet, you might want to skip this.

The temple itself is quite nice and maintains the peaceful aura that the entire length of the valley exudes.

A couple of moments before I took the above photo a couple with a pair of chihuahuas on leashes had gone up to the temple to pray.  The man reached out and grabbing hold of the rope, gave it a good shake to ring the bell before praying.  That was as far as he got, however, as both chihuahuas latched on to the rope and were trying their best to pull it down.  A few admonishing looks from other people around and the couple detached their dogs from the rope and sheepishly made their exit!

The temple also had an observation deck that gave a nice look out over the treetops that covered the valley.

Heading back down into the valley, I notice a thicket of bamboo trees

and decided to check it out.  It turned out to be a nice garden

that lead up to a lovely open area that would be great for picnics etc in summer, lots of space and shade.

I had now been wandering aimlessly around in the valley for a good 2 hours and decided that I would make my way back to the entrance.  I go there and found that my friendly local had found a mate.

I decided to continue walking and walked the three stops back to Jiyugaoka to see if my good friend Yasunari was at his shop.

I have talked before about Yasunari's amazing shop in this post here.  A visit to his shop is always interesting as he has countless one-of-a-kind fine craft, jewellery, homeware and fashion items.  He was there and I spent the rest of the day chatting and browsing his shop.

Well, that's it for another post.  I hope you enjoyed looking at and reading about Todoroki Valley as I did visiting it.  It is well worth a visit if you need to get away from it all but don't have time to travel anywhere.

Thanks, as always, for reading.  Feel free to leave a comment below, and if there is anything you would like to see or like me to post about, anything you are particularly curious about in Tokyo, let me know in a comment.  See you next time!


  1. Hi Jason,a real sanctuary from the concrete jungle of Tokyo.It is so green and possibly the air is so much cleaner,than back on the streets.I can imagine you may like to walk it again in Autumn and Spring.Really brass monkey weather here at the moment...yesterday morning was 3c at Bellevue Hts.A must win game Friday night for the Dons..about time the talls up forward took some marks and kick some goals!Bye for now...dewa mata..all the best...Noel.

  2. Hi again Jason,the Dons did not impress....unfortunately,some crucial umpiring decisions went against them...Hird is trying to put on a brave face.....I am getting the feeling the Dons are teetering on the edge of an abyss.

    1. Hi Noel,
      I hadn't heard the score for the Bombers. I had heard that WADA is appealing the verdict to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. That has to be playing on the players' minds. They have been through so much over the last 2+ years!
      Warming up here. We had a (really early) typhoon hit Tokyo last Tuesday and the last few days have been around the 30 degree mark.
      Take care Noel,

  3. Mate that is awesome! I love places like that. If I lived in Tokyo that place would be a regular visit for me, I don't do well with cities. I reminds me of the feeling I had when you posted about that zoo on the outskirts of Tokyo. I felt relieved for you!! Once again a good Tokyo contrast :)

    1. Hey Scott,
      It is an amazing place, that's for sure. To be surrounded by so much greenery when you know that a bubbling metropolis is only metres away is a surreal feeling!