Fabien Recoquille

Shinagawa Coffee and Art Tour

Cycle this beloved city and explore!

Fabien Recoquille
Serena Ogawa   - 12 min read

Shinagawa is a place that’s usually overlooked when coming to Tokyo but even more so is Tennozu Isle. Rent a bicycle and go around the Shinagawa area and you'll be sure to find some history, art, coffee shops, Japanese tea cafes, and create interesting interactions with locals. In recent months, I've discovered that Tennozu Isle has a hidden charm and is one of Tokyo's rare hidden gems.

There is so much artwork incorporated onto the buildings and everyday structures, with easy-to-miss art installations just on the sidewalk. There are many different art museums and hidden places to enjoy coffee or tea. With a modest number of people around it’s easy to enjoy everything on offer without feeling overwhelmed or closed-in. Follow our route for a fun-filled day on a bicycle.

Blue Bottle Coffee

Start with a coffee in a bustling Shinagawa Station just waking up to begin the day!

Conceived in California out of frustration with stale commercialized coffee franchises and inspired by Japanese “kissaten” cafes, Blue Bottle Coffee offers single origins, blends, and espresso. Enjoy coffee with the ethos of experiencing coffee at its peak, with only the freshest coffee being served in-store.

Grab a window seat to people-watch from a unique viewpoint.

(Photo: Fabien Recoquille)

Cycle Shinagawa

After your shot of coffee goodness, it’s time to pick up a red rental bike you’ve probably seen but never dared to try. Traveling around Shinagawa by bike is by far the most exhilarating and convenient way to go as there are many traditional streets and historic buildings to take in. With the added battery function, going uphill has never been easier so you can spend all day really getting to know the area.

Select one with a good battery life, set up via the app, and away you go!

Why cycle in Tokyo?

Cycling in Tokyo is not to be missed – giving you complete freedom to navigate where you want to go. Rental bikes are affordable and often come with an electric motor to help you tackle the slopes. Leave behind the hustle and bustle of the main tourist sites or rush-hour trains, and discover a quieter, more authentic Tokyo, by exploring the backstreets and a more local side of the city.

(Photo: Fabien Recoquille)

In video

Hara Museum of Contemporary Art

  • Ego Obscura, Tokyo 2020 - Yasumasa Morimura (until Apr 12)
  • Time Flows: Reflections by 5 Artists: Tomoki Imai, Tamotsu Kido, Lee Kit, Masaharu Sato, Tokihiro Sato (Apr 25 – Jun 7)
  • Mercedes-Benz Art Scope 2018 – 2020 (tentative)
  • Haris Epaminonda, Tsuyoshi Hisakado, Meiro Koizumi (Jun 21 – Sep 6, tentative)
  • Hara Museum Collection Exhibition (mid-Sep – late-Dec)

The Hara Museum will shut in December 2020 and consolidate to Hara Museum ARC, in Gunma Prefecture. Be sure to check it out before it’s gone!

The Hara Museum is a stunning Western-style Japanese residence which was built during the early-Showa period. Thought-provoking artwork housed in a clean and bright building.

Enjoy stunning views of the beautiful Japanese garden from the inside, through the many windows of the building.

(Photo: Fabien Recoquille)

Gotenyama Japanese Garden

Located on the southside of the Marriott Hotel, the Gotenyama Garden was a famous place for cherry blossoms during the Edo period. The Japanese gardens remain a hot spot for cherry blossoms to this day. Also of note are the beautiful leaves in autumn. The nature of Gotenyama Japanese Garden can be enjoyed at any time of the year.

Easily accessible from the road, you’ll immediately notice the waterfall feature and be drawn into this small piece of paradise.

Another example of how Japan does nature and tradition in a modern urban environment.

(Photo: Fabien Recoquille)

ARCHI-DEPOT Museum: The Classic Hotels–Evolving Tradition and Beyond (Feb 8 - May 31)

Newly renovated, Archi-Depot is the only museum in Tokyo that specializes in architectural models, which give a unique look into the architectural process. Being able to see the model creates a feeling of being inside the actual building and is a museum experience like no other.

There is also a neighboring gallery exhibiting contemporary Japanese art.

(Photo: Fabien Recoquille)

Pigment Tokyo

Pigment Tokyo is a unique art store, offering an array of color pigments, glues, brushes, and paper along with workshops to provide opportunities to employ techniques on how to use each product skillfully.

Don’t forget to take a picture in front of the iconic pigment wall and be sure to admire the collection of rare inkstones and brushes, as the place serves not only as a shop but as a museum too.

(Photo: Fabien Recoquille)

T.Y Harbor: Lunch

Overlooking the harbor and next to its own brewery, T.Y Harbor offers a generous lunch menu with delicious complimentary mango tea and bread. Try a signature burger with a generous helping of fries.

At nighttime, the boardwalk is lit up and makes for a cozy and romantic stroll, alone or with friends. Admire the impressive shamisen lady artwork on one of the street’s many buildings.

(Photo: Fabien Recoquille)

Higashi Shinagawa Sea Park

A short ride away from T.Y Harbor, this iconic park is a delight for the senses in autumn with the autumn colors or in spring for cherry blossom viewing.

This park was designed to combine waterways and greenery, with a focus on being accessible for everyone. The various green spaces are sure to bring you closer to nature and bring peace to your mind and body. There are spaces to relax, do some exercises, and enjoy views from the rooftop garden.

From the Isle Bridge, you can view Mt. Fuji on a clear day.

(Photo: Fabien Recoquille)

Japanese Tea at “Chabako”

Chabako offers a modern tea house culture on a street with a traditional feel. Serving Japanese tea, matcha, and handmade sweets.

(Photo: Fabien Recoquille)

The tea is prepared in plain sight. Take advantage of the meditative process of tea preparation with explanations of each tea; you’ll not only taste the flavors but gain a deeper level of connection with each tea.

Highly recommended are the lemon daifuku, a soft, round rice cake stuffed with lemon-flavored sweet bean jam, but be sure to order in advance as they usually sell out before the day’s end.

Art N Shelter: Memories of Tsukiji

Art N Shelter is not just a hostel, but also a co-operative where creativity and cultural experiences create a much-welcomed synergy.

If you are passionate about art, it is well worth the visit to have a coffee and view the current exhibitions, with a chance to have an enriching dialogue with the creators.

If you are an artist consider applying for their residency program.

(Photo: Fabien Recoquille)

Tokyo City Keiba

From April to December, enjoy the night-time “Twinkle Races” at Tokyo City Keiba. The entrance fee is just 100 yen or enter for free if you show your passport!

There is a beginner booth with support in English and you can view each majestic contender before making your selection.

Night races at Tokyo City Keiba
Night races at Tokyo City Keiba (Photo: nakashi / CC BY-SA 2.0)

Win or lose, there is an exciting atmosphere to be enjoyed with restaurants, a beer hall, and even a gallery of TCK valuables.

If racing is not your thing, be sure to take advantage of the mega illumination after sunset. Even during the off-season, from October to March, the illumination lights up the night.

(Photo: Fabien Recoquille)

Discover new charms by cycling Shinagawa's many hidden areas. You can easily experience the newness and oldness of Tokyo from the art, cityscapes, and cafes in this wonderful place. Find out more on how you can rent your own Docomo Bike and go on an adventure of your making.

Serena Ogawa

Serena Ogawa @serena.ogawa

Travel Editor for Japan Travel by day, novel-writing cat lady by night.