The lights are on, the buildings rise high and a tangle of trains zoom in and out of Shinagawa, one of Tokyo’s liveliest wards. Shinagawa builds on old land and new ideas, embracing innovation while treasuring its past.
1. Be Mesmerized by Edo Kiriko Glass at Kiriko Toriko
A traditional craft from the late 19th century, Edo kiriko glass has been a thing of beauty for more than 100 years. This intricately patterned cut glassware is the pride of Tokyo, and especially in Shinagawa. For exquisite Edo kiriko glassware, that’s exactly where you should go.
Kiriko Toriko is run by award-winning artisan Ryoko Nakamiya, who came up with the name by combining her love of birds (tori in Japanese) and kiriko glass. Her handmade items are one-of-a-kind. Thoughtfully crafted to play with light, creating colorful refractions of light as it hits the glass. Inspired by the elements, flora and fauna and even deities, Kiriko Toriko’s glassware is well worth a visit just to witness its beauty. If it captivates you, buy a few pieces to enjoy the mesmerizing experience at home.
2. Taste Inishie Aged Sake
Shinagawa’s Inishie Sake shop is located inside a private 100-year-old house. This trusted seller has become a local institution with its selection of more than 150 different kinds of aged sake. You can taste any of them for a small fee, whether you simply want to try some new flavors or help you choose the best sake to buy and take home. Knowledgeable shop staff is on hand to assist you. You’ll find barrel-aged sake, decades-old vintage sake and brands from across the country. There are affordable bottles starting at around ¥2,000 up to limited-edition tipples worth about ¥550,000 per bottle.
The shop also holds occasional events such as food pairing workshops and sake seminars.
3. Indulge in a Gourmet Evening Cruise
Shinagawa boasts the best cruises in Tokyo due to its geography — it lies partially in Tokyo Bay, with access to multiple rivers. The yakatabune is a Japanese traditional lantern-adorned boat serving gourmet cuisine, often paired with a nighttime view of the city. There is often tatami mat seating and traditional music. Tokyo shines brightly at night and cruises down Sumida River pass riverbanks lined with some of Tokyo’s most prominent landmarks, from Tokyo Skytree to the Rainbow Bridge in Odaiba. Our recommended route is a trip between Asakusa and Tennozu Isle. Visit the official Shinagawa Yakatabune Funasei website for booking information.
4. Visit the Avant-garde Tennozu Art Island
The artificial island Tennozu has embraced contemporary art with numerous museums, galleries, murals and art facilities. Tennozu is home to Kengo Kuma-designed Pigment Tokyo; WHAT MUSEUM, a collectors’ museum of contemporary art; and Bond Street.
One of the island’s crowning art events is the annual Tennoz Art Festival, encompassing mural creations and sculptures around Tennozu. Ongoing until December 31, the whole area becomes both a canvas and a gallery. There have been 12 creations through this festival to date, such as “‘The Shamisen’ Shinagawa 2019” by ARYZ and “Oracle Bone Script Connection” by Stachu Szumski. The Tennoz Art Festival 2022 unveils 12 more works this year.
Head to WHAT CAFE for more art and top-notch coffee. The bright 800m² space exhibits and sells work by contemporary Japanese artists, with constantly changing exhibitions and events.
5. Copy Sutras at a Yougyoukin Temple
Yougyoukin Temple is an important historical temple, dating back to the late 16th century. It has gone through tumultuous periods and misfortunes, but was rebuilt every time. It is now a designated tangible cultural property of Shinagawa. Every first Saturday of the month, Yougyoukuin Temple offers Buddhist sutra copying sessions to the public.
Copying sutras is known for its meditative nature, being a source of calm for many spiritual people. The temple acknowledges that the sheer intensity and fast pace of modern life are reason enough for anyone to need a quiet moment. Engaging in a still practice such as sutra copying is a good fit. They are especially considerate to foreign visitors, allowing for ample time to practice.
Bonus: 4 Winter Illuminations to See in Shinagawa
Don’t miss out on Shinagawa’s illuminations this winter:
1. Oimachi Illumination at Oimachi Station Plaza, Oct 29–Jan 9
2. Tokyo Mega Illumination at Oi Racecourse, Oct 15–Jan 9
3. Meguro River Minna no Illumination along the Meguro River (Gotanda and Osaki areas), Nov 11–Jan 8
4. Nishi Koyama Illumination at Nishi-koyama Station Square, Feb 3–Mar 21 (subject to change)
For up-to-date info, check out Shinagawonder on Instagram.