Head to the banks of the Tama River and discover why this neighborhood’s blend of modernity and natural beauty has seen it rise high on Tokyo’s livability index.
Stepping out from the station’s East Exit leads you straight into the dominant landmark of the area: the sleek and sprawling Futako Tamagawa Rise complex. Open since 2015, it comprises high-rise apartment towers, popular retail outlets, cafés, restaurants, a cinema and temporary event spaces to enjoy activities such as ice skating during winter. One of the more popular shops here is the two-story Tsutaya Electrics. It sells a variety of lifestyle products and state-of-the art luxury appliances for the home and aims to give shoppers a more personalized, first-hand experience of many of the items for sale. The interior design exudes relaxation, with subdued ambient lighting, plenty of decorative plants and lots of furniture to relax in with a coffee while browsing through a magazine.
Brews and Views
With the headquarters of Rakuten occupying one of the nearby towers, it should come as no surprise to find an abundance of upmarket international dining options nearby, such as the local branch of renowned Spanish gourmet deli and pastry shop Pastelería Mallorca. Gentrification and modernity may have made their mark but there are still plenty of traditional places, especially in the area around Tamagawa Takashimaya department store, which holds the accolade of being the first of its kind to open in the suburbs in 1969. Across from the roof garden on its seventh floor, which includes a mini waterfall feature, is the recently opened Park & Terrace Osoto. A stylish outdoor setting with a view over the Tama River, it’s a great spot for lunch, dinner or a quick rest. Down below, there are plenty more drinking and dining options, old and new blending comfortably together around the pedestrianized backstreets. Craft beer lovers should head to Futako Brewery, which features seven beers on tap including its own Futako Ale made from locally grown barley.
The banks of the Tama River have long been a popular spot for summer barbecues and picnics. Huge crowds gather in August to witness the impressive fireworks festival where teams from both sides of the river try to outdo each other with their displays. The nearby Futakotamagawa Park is a well manicured spot to enjoy a bit of open space away from the crowds. Daytrippers will want to swing by Kishin-en, a small Japanese garden within the park that features a restored 100-year-old house sitting at the end of a crystal clear pond (visitors can take a peek inside on Sundays and the second Monday of each month). Head deeper into the suburbs to Okamoto Seikado Green Space for some more tranquil scenery. The sprawling grounds are home to the Seikado Bunko Art Museum, which contains more than 6,000 works of art including swords, wood carvings, paintings and calligraphy, and the Seikado Bunko Library. Behind the museum building is a viewing platform overlooking a beautiful garden that blossoms with seasonal flora and leads around to the secluded mausoleum of the Iwasaki family, founders of the Seikado Collection.
Indiana Jones and the Temple of…
A short walk from Futako Tamagawa Station is the fascinating Tamagawa Daishi Temple (Gyokushin Mitsuin), constructed in 1923. Visitors begin by paying their respects to deities before being directed to a small staircase that leads below ground and into a 100m-long winding tunnel – built to represent the intestines of Dainichi Nyorai (Supreme Buddha of the Cosmos). Plunging into darkness and silence, you’ll feel the temperature drop as you edge forward with only your right hand against the wall to guide you into the unknown. Eventually a shaft of light appears and you enter a dimly lit chamber containing 88 small, numbered statues in two rows that lead to a large reclining Buddha. You can’t help but feel a little like Indiana Jones as you try to locate the statue with your corresponding age (for a spot of fortune) before following another tunnel and returning to the world above.
Photographs by Stephan Jarvis