A charming little piazza offering you a break from the hustle and bustle of Tokyo and transporting you to Italy temporarily with the promise of a real gondola, a canal, a venetian bridge, a clock tower and some Italian brickwork. Yeah, yeah, yeah! No doubt there are other more serious and professional media outlets spinning you such garbage about this place but I can’t say I felt it too much!
Back in May, Jack of Rambling Northerner fame mailed me for recommendations of things to do in Jiyugaoka as he had a few hours to kill. I was about to tell him about the Todoroki Valley which is fairly accessible from Jiyugaoka station as it’s only four minutes away on the Tokyu-Oimachi Line. Or you can walk it in about 20 minutes! However, he mailed again to say he’d already found a place of interest.
La Vita (2-8-3 Jiyugaoka, Meguro-ku) a.k.a. Little Venice is just six minutes on foot from the station and a couple of months ago I happened to be in Jiyugaoka for two days of kids intensive lessons (same kids on both days!). After my first day I thought, while it was nice weather, I would pop along to see what all the fuss was about…….not that there was ever much fuss!
In the aftermath of my visit I made a little collage of about five pictures using the PhotoGrid app on my phone. I posted it on Facebook and was quite surprised by the level of interest online and even face-to-face as a load of guys (three people!) enquired for more details about it in the week that followed. One even asked me if you could get a decent pizza there!
The reality is that it’s essentially a tiny outdoor shopping complex with a water feature!! It’s a far cry from the real Venice where I spent about 24 hours during my Euro Trip in August 2010. Mini Venice is a cosy place, that’s for sure! It’s made up of a few clothes shops, some salons, a yoga studio, a flower shop, a cafe and something called ‘Brains Factory’ which sounds like it could be some kind of school but I can’t be too sure of that!
In the short time I was there the only other people passing through the area were also just curious tourists seeing what this Mini Venice place really was all about. Admittedly, it was quite fun to see how many different angles I could capture to make it seem like it was a far grander size.
I’m sure there are far better Venice-like places in Japan like Sawara in Chiba. As for this one, if you’re in the area then it’s worth a quick look (open daily from 11am till 8pm) but I certainly wouldn’t bust a gut to go there!