Setagaya’s secret slice of nature.
If you’re looking for a beautiful park or landscaped garden in Tokyo, you’ll find yourself spoilt for choice. However, if you’re after something a little more natural and untamed, Todoroki Valley in Setagaya is the place to go.
The only valley in the city, it comprises a roughly one-kilometer walking trail that winds along lazily next to the Yazawa River. As soon as you descend into the narrow ravine, you’ll notice the air become cooler and the atmosphere more tranquil. Todoroki is rarely busy, making it the perfect place to escape the city (while still being in it). Benches are dotted along the route, where you can sit and relax, have lunch, or read a book while listening to the gentle sound of the river.
And it’s not just nature that you’ll find here. As you head down from the striking red Golf Bridge that marks the start of the trail, you’ll come across several small shrines before reaching Todoroki Fudo Temple at the other end.
One of these shrines is Chigo Daishi Mieido. It houses a statue of the Buddhist priest Kobo Daishi, who is credited with inventing the Japanese kana. It is said that he was inspired to explore this valley after a vision, which is how the spring waters were discovered.
Nearby you’ll see two small waterfalls cascading from the mouths of dragons. Although the flow of water is not so powerful now, these waterfalls were supposedly once used for ascetic training.
Just opposite them is Setsugetsuka teahouse, serving matcha tea and traditional sweets. It has both indoor and outdoor seating from which you can admire the view. At the end of the valley you’ll find yourself in Todoroki Ravine Park, which is a pleasant open space where you can enjoy a picnic on the grass.
Todoroki Valley can be enjoyed all year round, but the grounds near Todoroki Fudo Temple are particularly beautiful in cherry blossom season and when the leaves change color in the autumn.