Tokyo is a green city, full of beautiful parks and gardens, where you can admire the cherry blossoms, the autumn colors or simply find peace from the summer heat under the shade of a beautiful, lush tree. But in the district of Setagaya there is also a real valley, located below the city and dug by the river Yazawa: the Todoroki Valley.
If you are looking for an unusual and unknow place in Tokyo to spend a couple of hours in an oasis of peace, Todoroki Valley is the ideal destination to calm the mind and refresh the spirit. A little gem almost unknown, a path of about a kilometer along the river, dotted with bridges, temples and a beautiful Japanese garden.
The Todoroki Valley is the only valley of the 23 Tokyo neighborhoods and thanks to its microclimate is particularly popular in the summer, when there is a cooler temperature than the ground level. An unusual vegetation, made of evergreens, palm trees, bamboo, but also plums and cherries … and just go up the stairs and you will find yourself back in the middle of the city!!
The route starts near the iconic Red Golf Bridge, image of Todoroki Valley, where panels explain the particularity of this valley and give information on the flora and fauna that you can find here. Large steps descend towards the river and a wide path accompanied by the sound of water leads us in this jungle, taking our mind away from the worries and bustle of Tokyo.
Walk slowly along the river, cross wooden bridges and sit on a bench to admire the surrounding nature. Explore the area with mysterious tombs of Kofun period.
Follow the river for about a kilometer, till the end of the valley, where you can find a lovely Japanese-style garden with bamboo and a small refreshment area. While I was walking through this relaxing place an Ojichan, a Japanese old man, approached me to narrate me about the uniqueness and beauty of Todoroki Valley and informed me that this garden is owned by Mr. Watanabe, the Vice President of Mitsubishi Corporation, the most important company in Japan.
From the opposite bank of the river there is a small waterfall that comes out from the mouth of a dragon that seems to be also used for ascetic practices and the sound produced by this waterfall has given the name Todoroki to this valley. In this area there are several small temples, but climbing up from Todoroki Valley you can reach the Todoroki Fudosan Temple, which protects the waterfall and watches over the water purified by the dragons.
How to get there
Todoroki Valley is located in the district of Setagaya, just 20 minutes by train from Shibuya. It can be reached by Fukutoshin Line to Jiyugaoka and from there the Oimachi Line to the Todoroki station. From the south exit of the station you’ll arrive after a few steps, turning right just after the supermarket with the pink logo.