Ask a foreigner who lives in Tokyo about Shinagawa, and you’ll see their eyes widen and their expression turn to dread for it is an unspeakable place. “Ia! Shinagawa! The Black Goat of the woods with a thousand bureaucrats!” they’ll cry before clawing their face off and running down the street naked. Foreigners hate going to the Tokyo Regional Immigration Office just that much. However, Shinagawa has more to offer than just existential horror. It also has some of the best pie you can find in Tokyo.
What Is It?
Shinagawa-ku is one of Tokyo’s 23 special wards. While the ward is made up of various districts, including parts of Odaiba. It is also used to refer to the business district around Shinagawa Station, which is not actually in Shinagawa-ku, but Minato-ku. During the Edo Period, Shinagawa was a shukuba, or “post town,” a rest stop for weary travelers making their way to Nihonbashi (the capital at the time).
In a way, traces of its post town history still remain. Modern Shinagawa is a busy place filled with restaurants, business hotels, and weary travelers coming and going from Haneda and Narita Airport, which have direct connections from Shinagawa Station.
What Can You Do?
Shinagawa wouldn’t necessarily be the first pick for those looking for fun, but they’re just not looking hard enough. The Shinagawa Prince Hotel offers shopping, bowling, and an IMAX theater in one location. A number of museums can also be found in the area including the Hara Museum of Contemporary Art and the Museum of Maritime Science (located in Higashiyashio, Odaiba).
Numerous historical sights can also be found in the area including the Suzugaori Execution Grounds—where an estimated 100,000 criminals, political enemies, and Christians were killed between 1651 and 1871. For even more brutal, sad, but also kind of metal history, visit Sengaku-ji—the Zen Buddhist temple where Keanu Reeves and the 47 Rōnin committed seppuku after avenging their lord.
Both Ikedayama Park and Togoshi Park are the sites of daimyo villas, while Shinagawa Kumin Park is a large and bicycle-friendly woodland park with facilities for camping and barbecue. Tree folks will want to take a stroll through Rinshi No Mori Park, where several hundred Japanese trees tower above peaceful pathways.
What Can You Eat?
The area surrounding Shinagawa Station is home to many Japanese and western-style restaurants and bars that cater to all the tourists that are making pit stops from the airport. Unique to the area however, is Anna Millers. Famous for their waitress uniforms, Anna Millers is one of the few places in Japan that you can find western-style pies like pumpkin, pecan, and dutch apple.
Where Is It?
The ward is made up of Tokaido, the towns stretching across Osaki Station, Gotanda Station and Meguro Stations, and other smaller districts, including parts of Odaiba.
Shinagawa Station is a major railway serving many lines that connect to greater Japan and the Tokyo area, including direct connections to Haneda Airport and Narita Airport. Lines included are the JR Tokaido Shinkansen, the JR East Keihin-Tohoku Line, Tokaido Main Line, Yamanote Line, and Yokosuka Line, as well as the Kaikyu Main Line.