Gotokuji Temple is a Buddhist temple from the Edo period that is believed to be the birthplace of the Maneki-Neko cat. The temple is located in Setagaya, Tokyo, so it is a very special place for cat lovers.
Legend has it that Ii Naotaka escaped an unexpected thunderstorm in the early 17th century because he was invited to the temple by a cat. To show his gratitude to the cat, Naotaka decided to dedicate the temple to the Ii clan.
The famous Maneki Neko figures can therefore be found all over the temple grounds.
These figures, which are very popular in Japan and can often be seen in shops, are supposed to wave good luck with their waving paws. Although there are many different types of Maneki-Neko figurines that can choose to raise their right or left paw, Gotokuji Temple specializes in the right-paw version of this lucky symbol.
Three minute walk east of Miyanosaka Station (Tokyu-Setagaya Line), which is a 10-minute train ride (6 stops) from Sangenjaya Station.
Located right next to Shinjuku Chuo Park, THE KNOT TOKYO Shinjuku is a modern hotel with an exceptional design and easy access to the nearby Shinjuku train station and the Meiji Shrine. The 14-story hotel building was renovated and reopened in August 2018 as THE KNOT TOKYO Shinjuku . The western-style rooms offer a park view on the top floor as well as a newly opened terrace suite. The spacious atrium design offers a relaxed atmosphere and connects the restaurant, bar, lounge and lobby with one another. One of the highlights of THE KNOT is the delicious dishes. There are six areas in which food and drinks are offered. From the grill area to high-quality black tea and fresh bread, everything is on offer.
With Koenji being a "creatives town" it's no surprise that BnA Hotel opened there in 2016 and has had, subsequently, an incredible impact on the local community. BnA (Bed and Art) has other spaces dotted about Tokyo and Kyoto but the Koenji edition is possibly more immersive as the concept is "stay in an artwork." In collaboration with local artists the BnA has created an impressive multi-storey art experiment for art lovers and creatives with a desire to inhabit art. The first floor acts as a front desk and bar which comes alive at night with events and selected DJs. It also hosts Masu Masu onigiri cafe with artists being asked to come and exchange artwork with each other in a gesture which reflects the true spirit of Koenji. With two "living art" twin rooms taking up the second and third floors designed by a seasonal rotation of local artists, guests can engage with and inhabit their art rooms. BnA Koenji also plays host to a rooftop lounge and a basement space which is used for artists residencies where their work is shown to the public and DJ booth and streaming equipment for live performances. With live painting events and an eclectic variety of regular events the BnA Hotel becomes, itself, a living canvas. The BnA believes that it's a machigata hotel meaning that guests should (and encouraged) to interact with Koenji. Use the public sentos, eat in the local restaurants that surround the hotel and buy locally from the multitude of shops, market stalls, bars and cafes which make up the fabric of Koenji. Feted by international press such as The Guardian, BnA acts as a creative network with the concept of serendipity being discussed as the bar becomes an ad hoc meeting place where collaborations and friendships between artists and locals are born. The BnA was also instrumental in a street art festival named MCP (Mural City Project) which was supported by Suginami Ward. MCP was incredibly ambitious and truly communal with the desire to transform and coalesce the community through the creation of public murals. The BnA, Koenji and Suginami spearheaded a public art movement which should be commended and replicated throughout Tokyo.
Just minutes from Shinagawa Station, the Grand Prince Hotel New Takanawa is surrounded by lush greenery in the Takanawa area, with rooms offering balcony views of the nearby gardens and surrounding Tokyo cityscape. This urban resort features convention facilities like the Hiten banquet hall, international Convention Center Pamir, as well as a wide variety of Japanese, Chinese and Western restaurants.
There is a restaurant right in front of the Meguro station where you can eat your own fish. All kinds of Japanese dishes and fresh seafood are also served. In some pools inside the restaurant you can catch your own fish with a fishing rod and net and then let the staff know which table it should be brought to. You can watch the fish being prepared in the kitchen and let you know in advance how the fish should be prepared: whether as sashimi, grilled, boiled, deep-fried (with tempura) or as sushi. If you don't manage to catch your own fish, then you can of course order a fish from the menu. However, the price is much lower if you want to have your own catch cooked .
Situated a few minutes stroll from the north exit of JR Koenji Station, Clouds Art + Coffee is a simple affair reflecting the owners' passion for, well, art and coffee. Very chic and sparse, the space is compact with a fine selection of coffee from all over the world such as Ethiopia, Kenya, Colombia and Brazil which makes it the perfect spot for Tokyo's legion of coffee addicts. The owners curate a healthy mix of artwork from local and international artists and the rotational exhibition system means that regular customers have the opportunity to see, firsthand, the best and most intriguing art from Koenji's thriving art community. There's no censorship at Clouds Art + Coffee and artists are encouraged to represent themselves and their work in a free manner and this means, essentially, that customers can view an eclectic and liberating amount of art hand in hand with some of the finest coffee in Koenji and Tokyo as a whole. Clouds Art + Coffee is, ostensibly, a hub and tryst for art and coffee lovers who come from far and wide to sample international coffee made from the finest beans and art from emerging and established artists.
Ramen has become a global cuisine over the past decade with ramen-ya popping up in cities all over the globe. Millions of visitors, however, flock to Japan every year to experience the real deal. Harukiya, located a few minutes from JR Ogikubo Station, is a Tokyo institution. Established in 1949 it is the originator of Tokyo-style ramen which uses niboshi (dried baby sardines) in its broth and has been serving up first-class soy sauce which hasn’t changed for more than 70 years and has, rightly, earned it a legion of devotees. Although Harukiya has a sister branch in nearby Kichijoji, the Ogikubo store is the original and takes great pride in creating its authentic Tokyo-style chuka soba as well as chashumen and wontonmen. The aroma from the ramen floats into the outside streets having a visible effect on the patrons who queue daily to get their hands on Harukiya’s mouth-watering ramen. Popular with Ogikubo residents and foreign ramen aficionados, Harukiya has a small, curated menu with toppings, cold noodles and a few side dishes which accompany the ramen. Harukiya has led the Tokyo ramen industry for generations and there’s a reason for this. The aromatic soy sauce ramen and hand made noodles which are freshly kneaded every morning have inspired ramen lovers and ramen chefs the world over and will continue to do so for many more years to come.
Sangenjaya is an area within the Setagaya district in Tokyo. The name Sangenjaya means "three tea houses", but the locals often refer to it simply as 'Sancha'. The neighbourhood is littered with chic cafes and bustling izakayas. It is also known for its 27-storey high Carrot Tower building, the Setagaya Line tram, and for being the inspiration for various settings in the game Persona 5.
Komazawa Olympic Park, located in both Meguro and Setagaya, Tokyo, is a sports facility built for the 1964 Summer Olympics. Approximately 90 percent of the park area is in the Setagaya district, while the remaining 10 percent is in the Meguro district At the beginning of the 20th century, the area served as a golf course, on which even Emperor Hirohito and King George V of England were invited to a game. The extensive grounds offer several sports facilities, including baseball fields, tennis courts, a swimming pool and a sports hall. There is also a stadium for 20,000 people, which is a venue for both soccer and American football games. There is also a very nice route that is ideal for jogging or cycling. [Photo: no_typographic_man / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]
The Shibuya Fukuras building, which opened in November 2019, is the latest in a series of skyscrapers that are part of the Shibuya skyline and define the central cityscape. The building, which is designed for both Japanese and international visitors, houses offices, retail stores (operated by Tokyu Plaza Shibuya), a bus station for local and airport buses, luggage storage rooms and tourism information facilities. It is located in the Dogenzaka area of Shibuya and will be even more accessible thanks to the planned deck that will connect the Shibuya Fukuras skyscraper directly to Shibuya station in the future. With 18 above-ground and four underground floors, there is a lot to discover here!