Accessible within 30 minutes, the “Triangle Area” is a place where you’ll find things made just for you
The base of the Triangle Area is the well-known Shibuya. To get from this young fashion capital to Jiyugaoka, which is popular for having lots of cozy cafes and stores with stylish accessories, it only takes 12 minutes by local train, and 7 minutes by express. And it’s about the same distance to get to the refined town of Futako-tamagawa with its harmonious blend of urban and natural elements. Both these areas are about 30 minutes from Shinjuku, so you can easily go whenever you feel like it.
Both Jiyugaoka and Futako-tamagawa are well known for being two of Tokyo’s shopping battlegrounds, and new shops are constantly popping up. It’s fun to compare the two areas to see which matches your style, and you can also narrow your shop search by focusing on the items you want, for example you might be looking for a bright colored and easy to use stole for next spring, or hair accessories with pop decorations. And if you want even more, if you take a limited express train on Tokyu Toyoko Line from Jiyugaoka, it’s only 20 minutes to Yokohama! After you’ve thoroughly enjoyed shopping and wandering around town, you can then go on to enjoy dinner and beautiful night views in Yokohama’s Minatomirai, which would be quite an impressive achievement for a single day.
The fashionable yet easy to get into Jiyugaoka, and the easily livable and appealing Futako-tamagawa. Both cities are full of life, so whenever you turn a corner there’s always new discoveries awaiting you. Ultimately, the proof is in the pudding. With the discount Triangle Ticket that gives you unlimited travel within the Triangle Area for a day, we’ve decided to try out Jiyugaoka on the Tokyu Toyoko Line first.
Jiyugaoka – A place where you’ll want to wander around and find things you love
“The best way to enjoy Jiyugaoka is to search for a shop that’s just for you.” This advice was given by Hiromi Sumi, who is a station staff member at the Tokyu Toyoko Jiyugaoka Station. For example, the area around the North Exit has many accessories shops for classy women, under the bridge there’s an arcade similar to Ueno’s Ameya-yokocho Market, and everywhere you go there’s the scent of delicious sweets wafting through the air. You get the feeling that you’ll find something you like if you just use your intuition.
In fact, the shops that you see are all very unique. Even the way the windows are decorated demonstrates good taste. There are so many interesting shops like beauty salons with carved angels lining the entrance and stores with an 80′s American twist which you’ll just end up just wanting to go inside.
“There are also many specialist stores such as stores specializing in honey, or cameras,” says Ms. Sumi. Her personal favorite is “Kuhombutsu Street,” which is a short walk from the south exit of the station. It’s a leafy green street lined with cherry blossom trees, and there are benches everywhere for people to relax freely. During cherry blossom season, the edge of the train platform is her best secret spot for flower viewing. “There are so many hidden restaurants and also lots of stores selling delicious sweets, I often get asked for help by customers. I love Jiyugaoka, so I’m always happy to help people out.”
Tokyu Jiyugaoka Station
Address:2nd Floor, Jiyugaoka Station South Exit Building 1-9-8 Jiyugaoka, Meguro-ku, Tokyo
First through the valley, then on to the celebrity town – Strolling through the richly diverse Futako-tamagawa
Before heading to Futako-tamagawa from Jiyugaoka, we’d like to make a stop at Todoroki Valley. Despite being just three minutes’ walk from Todoroki Station on the Oimachi Line, it’s like a totally different world. Once you descend the stairs from the entrance sign at the foot of a bridge, there’s a winding valley path lined with lush forest where you can hear the constant babbling of the brook. Taking a mini vacation by immersing yourself in a silence unthinkable for a major city, and visiting a known power spot in Todoroki Fudoson temple, this is an experience you can only find here. It’s an enjoyable yet strange feeling as if you’ve traveled back in time.
Spread along the banks of the Tama-gawa River, Tokyo’s oasis, Futako-tamagawa (known colloquially as “Niko-Tama”) is a refined town that blends together greenery, water and urban images. You might be cycling down the river bank with a gentle breeze in the morning, relaxing at a cafe followed by shopping in a gorgeous mall in the afternoon, and finally enjoying a sumptuous dinner at twilight… That’s the kind of elegant lifestyle which suits this town.
Futako-tamagawa has become a leader in shopping style for the wealthy. “Tamagawa Takashimaya S.C” is Japan’s first suburban shopping centre consisting of the well-established Takashimaya department store and around 340 specialty shops. On the 1st floor, a row of world leading brand stores create a luxury feel in a relaxed space. Next to that is a store selling beautiful Italian made dinnerware featuring abstract blue patterns, and a stationery store lined with interesting goods such as classy heart shaped memo stands. It might be a bit expensive, but you’ll end up wanting to use it on a regular basis. If you just wander around the stores looking at these kinds of goods, you’ll completely forget about the passage of time.
Surrounding the sprawling courtyard in front of the station is the modern “Futako Tamagawa Rise Shopping Center” complex with 3 wings and 160 stores. Though it features many fashion stores such as the globally popular H&M, we’d definitely like you to check out the “Tokyu Food Show” on the 1st basement floor. With sweets shops that give concern to the soil in which the chestnuts used in their desserts were grown in, as well as shops that specially select “regional produce” from all over the country together with photos of the growers, there are many stores that represent Futako-tamagawa’s style of food. It’s also easy to enjoy trying samples at a Milanese gelato shop offering over 100 flavors made from fresh materials changed on a daily basis, or also at a Japanese green tea store featuring authentic tasting corners.
Connecting to the station is a lush green tree lined road that serves as elegant Niko-Tama’s main street. Even the fashion styles of the people walking along the street are casual yet classy in every way. A sophisticated middle-aged couple wears the same coat in matching colors. The shoes of the girl with the well-groomed French bulldog are the same flaming red to match the dog’s leash. Co-ordinated with black leggings, it’s a vivid color combination.
If you move away from the station, you’ll find an area with rows of fine houses that look like they ought to feature in housing design magazines. Though it just looks like a nice and quiet suburb of a city, it’s actually a famous upmarket housing area! With their carefully tended lawns, English style gardens, or alternatively having beautiful evergreen Japanese gardens, the gardens you can see over the hedges and fences are not only extravagant, they also express individual personalities. The design of the houses and their variety are even better. Checking out the glamorous streets while having a stroll is a fun experience particular to “Niko-Tama.” Finally, take a break at a suburban cafe with some freshly grilled galettes and some fragrant herb tea. The feeling of comfort you get from spending a graceful afternoon here will linger with you even on your way home.
Address:Near 1-22, Todoroki, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo
Todoroki Fudoson Temple
Address:1-22-47, Todoroki, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo
Access:6 minutes’ walk from Todoroki Station on the Tokyu Oimachi Line
Tokyu Futako-tamagawa Station
Address:2-22-13, Tamagawa, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo
Futako Tamagawa Rise Shopping Center
Address:2-21-1 Tamagawa, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo
Access:Directly connected to Futako-tamagawa Station on the Tokyu Oimachi and Den-en-toshi Lines.
Tamagawa Takashimaya S.C
Address:3-17-1 Tamagawa, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo
Access:Around 2 minutes’ walk from Futako-tamagawa Station on the Tokyu Oimachi and Den-en-toshi Lines.
Opening hours:Specialty stores: 10:00 – 21:00
Tamagawa Takashimaya: 10:00 – 20:00
Always reliable in any situation, the convenient and friendly Tokyu Corporation service
Tokyu Corporation’s “Triangle Ticket” is a one day rail pass between Shibuya, Jiyugaoka and Futako-tamagawa. Getting on and off at popular areas like Daikan-yama and Naka-meguro is also free. For 390 yen, this discount ticket allows you to move around the Triangle Area as much as you want. You can buy the ticket at any Tokyu station, but it’s recommended that you buy the ticket before you board at Shibuya Station on the Den-en-toshi Line or the Toyoko Line. You can also easily bring up English instructions on the ticketing machines. In Shibuya, and also Jiyugaoka and Futako-tamagawa you can use Wi-Fi internet, so it’s easy to get information on the go.
If you’d like to get information and advice before you head into the Triangle Area, the “Shibuya Station Tourist Information Desk” on the 2nd basement floor (B2/F) of Shibuya Station is very useful. One of the staff, Sato, has a motto to give advice from the traveler’s perspective, for example writing memos with destination names in Kanji characters with Romaji (English alphabet). There are also staff members who are native speakers of Taiwanese and Korean as well, so it’s a popular hidden spot with regular customers.