Tokyo may be a city somewhat lacking in green areas but that’s not to say there is nowhere to go to take a break from the concrete jungle. There are a handful of beautiful gardens and parks but little did I know that there was an unconventional green space amidst the densely populated Setagaya ward.
Just a couple of minutes walk away from Todoroki Station on the Oimachi Line is Todoroki Valley; an attractive walking towpath stretching for just over a kilometre. Steps lead you down to the river from Golf Bridge (a golf course was here in 1930) and take you temporarily away from the hustle and bustle of everyday big city life.
This peaceful retreat is something of a hidden Tokyo treasure with its narrow valley that takes you on a scenic walk along the Tama river. Allowing for a very leisurely stroll and photo stops, it only takes about 30 minutes to walk from end to end.
All-in-all it felt similar to hiking at Mount Takao albeit in a far easier way. Fresh air, stepping stones, wooden slats and birds singing in the trees was a satisfactory enough companion for my walk and though I was never alone there were only ever two or three other people in sight.
Lets skip on to the very end of the valley where some steps lead up to what seems like it could be a private garden but was actually a public one featuring a traditional house, fruit trees, bamboo trees, stone lanterns and the finest Autumn foliage (below) seen on this mini excursion.
A short distance before those splendid gardens was the Fudo no Taki waterfall area featuring a couple of little temples, some small buddhist statues, a restaurant and a dragon’s mouth in the ravine’s banks with water pouring out of it. The waterfall is supposedly used by Buddhist followers for meditation.
Steps then take you up to where the Todoroki Fudo Temple stands. It has a long history stretching back somewhere between 900 and 1500 years according to differing reports and it is now considered to be a “power spot”.
The Autumn leaves were near their peak when I visited this place at the end of last month and the ground of the temple was awash with yellow ones.
I’ve heard that Todoroki Valley is a popular place during the hot and humid Tokyo Summertime as the trees stop the sun from shining through meaning that the temperature in the valley is generally a few degrees lower than the heat-absorbing concrete skyscrapers and roads. I’d like to see what it’s like during the Spring cherry blossom season so will try and find time to return during that short window of opportunity next year.