Amidst Tokyo’s sprawling alleys and towering skyscrapers lies a quiet neighborhood paved with cobbled stone and inspires a perpetual Sunday feel. Just an 8-minute train ride from Shibuya; the modern architecture, posh boutiques, and trendy cafes have earned Jiyugaoka its nickname “Little Europe” by the locals. But it isn’t all bread pudding and gondolas in Jiyugaoka. Take a visit and you’ll find that you’re very much still in Japan.
What Is It?
At the beginning of the 19th century, the area was a rural community located in southern Meguro. The only thing of note at the time was a school recognized for its western-style teaching called Jiyugaoka, which translates to “Freedom Hill”. The uncreative locals shrugged and just started calling the whole town Jiyugaoka. After being devastated during WWII, Jiyugaoka was rebuilt with a European aesthetic. Today, it’s a pedestrian paradise, teeming with trendy cafes, French bakeries, and fashionable shops.
What Can You Do?
Jiyugaoka manages to stay under the radar of most tourists. Nevertheless, it is still one of the most popular and desired neighborhoods to live in Tokyo. Popular spots include La Vita, a tiny Venice inspired area with its equally inspired Venice canal, and Marie Claire Promenade and Green Street, beautiful avenues that are lined with posh shops, cafes, and restaurants.
Of course, there are also Japanese sights. The intimate and peaceful Kumano Shrine is hidden just off the main roads, and just beyond La Vita is the 100-year old tea house and garden, Kosoan. The staff at Kosoan couldn’t be friendlier, and the menus are in Japanese and English, and with pictures to make things even easier for foreigners.
One of the most surprising things to find near Jiyugaoka is Tokdoroki Keikoku Ravine, 3-minutes from Todoroki Station on the Tokyu Oimachi Line. This is the only ravine in Tokyo’s 23 wards and has been designated as a scenic spot by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government. It is almost hard to believe such a beautiful and serene place is hiding away between the streets of Tokyo.
What Can You Eat?
If you are simply looking for the best or most interesting places to eat in Jiyugaoka, you’ll find quite a few options simply walking the streets. French and Italian restaurants are dime-a-dozen, but you can also find cheaper ramen and sushi options as well. Burger fans may find a new favorite at Jiyugaoka Burger, a mom and pop shop located in a garden terrace that proudly boasts an organic menu. However, it doesn’t get much cuter than the Peter Rabbit Café where maid-style waitresses serve blueberry french toasts and cheesy tomato eggplant doria.
Where Is It?
Jiyugaoka Station is served by the Tokyu Toyoko Line and the Tokyu Oimachi Line. It’s easily accessible from all major stations through Shibuya, which is 8-minutes away Jiyugaoka via the Tokyu Toyoko Line.