Setagaya (世田谷) is in western Tokyo, and is the most populous and the second largest of the city's 23 wards.
Setagaya has a reputation as an upscale residential district, and features many areas of greenery. People get to experience the sophisticated yet wild atmosphere in the huge park called Setagaya Park (世田谷公園) which is approximately 15-minute-walk from Sangenjaya (三軒茶屋). The funky shopping and nightlife area of Shimokitazawa (下北沢), which is popular with students and young adults, is also located in the ward. Setagaya is also home to the shopping districts of Sangenjaya (三軒茶屋) and the revitalized Futako-Tamagawa (二子玉川), locally known as Nikotama. Some areas around Jiyūgaoka (自由が丘) also fall within Setagaya.
Sangenjaya and Futako-Tamagawa are on the Tōkyū Den-en-Toshi train line from Shibuya. Komazawa-Daigaku is also along this line and near Sangenjaya, and the Komazawa University campus is a few minutes from the station.
Jiyūgaoka is a transfer point for the Tōkyū Tōyoko and Ōimachi train lines. The Tōyoko Line is your best bet for getting into the southern sections of Setagaya from Shibuya or Central Yokohama. The Ōimachi Line, which originates in Ōimachi near Shinagawa, continues northward from Jiyūgaoka to Futako-Tamagawa to meet with the Den-en-Toshi line.
The main train lines serving Setagaya are the Odakyu from Shinjuku to Odawara, the Keio line from Shinjuku to Takao-san, and the Keio Inokashira, Tokyu Toyoko, and Tokyu Denentoshi, all originating in Shibuya. Since all of these lines run generally westward from hubs on the Yamanote line, it can be somewhat difficult to travel north-south without going in to a hub and back out. Also, select Tokyo Metro Chiyoda line trains (generally every thirty minutes) through-run from Ayase in Adachi Ward.
The only major connector line in the ward is the Tokyu Ōimachi line, which primarily serves residential communities to the extreme south located along the Tama River and Tokyo's #8 Ring Road (Kampachi-dori). The line can be used to connect between the Toyoko and Denentoshi lines without going back to Shibuya.
The Tokyu Setagaya line between Sangenjaya and Shimo-takaido is one of only two remaining streetcar lines in Tokyo.
- 1 Carrot Tower (キャロットタワー), 太子堂 4 chome 1-1. This is the tallest building in Setagaya and contains a free observation deck on the 26th floor and Gamefreak Co. on the 22nd floor.
- 2 Gotokuji Temple (豪徳寺 Gōtokuji), Gōtokuji 2 chome 24-7 (take the Odakya line to Gotokuji Station or the Setagaya line to Miyanozaka Station). The origin of the maneki-neko or beckoning-cat statuettes that bring good fortune to Japanese merchants the world over.
- 3 Hanegi Park (羽根木公園 Hanegi-kōen), Daita 4 chome 38-52 (take the Odakyu line to Umegaoka Station or the Inokashira line to Higashimatsubara Station), ☏ . A public park, where kids can play freely with the Play Park facility.
- 4 Kinuta Park (砧公園 Kinuta-koen), Kinuta-koen 1-1. A public park with a museum of modern art.
- 5 Komazawa Olympic Park (駒沢オリンピック公園 Komazawa orinpikku koen), Komazawa koen 1 (15-minute walk from Komazawa-Daigaku station). A large public park, built for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.
- 6 Machiko Hasegawa Museum (長谷川町子美術館 Hasegawa machiko bijutsukan), 1-30-6 Sakurashinmachi (7-minute walk from Sakura-Shinmachi station), ☏ . Tu-Su 10:00-17:30, last entry at 17:00. Art museum dedicated to the works of Machiko Hasegawa, creator of Sazae-san, one of Japan's longest running comic strips and cartoons. Showcases include original drawings, clay dolls, and paintings. Adults ¥600, college and high school students ¥500, junior high and elementary school students ¥400.
- 7 Setagaya Art Museum (世田谷美術館 Setagaya bijutsukan), 1-2 Kinutakoen (15-minute walk from Yoga Station on the Den-en Toshi Line), ☏ . Tu-Su 10:00-18:00, last entry 17:30, closed at New Years. Houses works by artists from the Primitivist School, such as Henri Rousseau. Adults ¥200, college students ¥150, children and senior citizens ¥100.
- 8 Tamagawadaishi (玉川大師), 4 Chome-13-3 Seta (Get off at Futako-Tamagawa on the Tokyu Den-en-Toshi Line (from Shibuya) and walk 10 minutes along the highway from Takashimaya Department Store), ☏ . 09:00-17:00. A Buddhist temple, and a branch of Kawasaki Daishi. It isn't very large and the location is in a nondescript residential area, but its curious attraction is hidden: an underground passageway that snakes its way under the building. There are statues and altars with lighting at various points, but much of the tunnel is in absolute darkness. It symbolizes a passage through the intestines of the Buddha (better not to dwell too much on the symbolism!) while the 88 Buddha statues in one of the chambers also symbolize the famous 88 Temple Pilgrimage in Shikoku.
- 9 Todoroki ravine (等々力渓谷) (take the Tokyu Oimachi line to Todoroki Station.). A natural canyon nestled in urban surroundings. With a small river and lush vegetation, it offers a pleasant natural environment.
- 10 Setagaya Park (世田谷公園 Setagaya-koen), Ikejiri 1-5-27, ☏ . A public park with a pool, tennis courts, baseball grounds and so on. There is a mini steam train and a retired full-size steam locomotive for children to play on.
- Tollywood (トリウッド), Daizawa 5-32-5 2F (Three minutes from Shimokitazawa south exit), ☏ . This small theater (46 seats) specializes in independent short films, mostly Japanese. The films aren't dubbed or subtitled of course, but they're so offbeat and often bizarre that you're sure to have a good time anyway.
- Okuraland, Sakura 3-24-1 (5 minutes from Kamimachi station of Tokyu-Setagaya line), ☏ . Here you can go bowling or practice your golf swing. There are also batting cages.
- 1 Kuhonbutsu River Green Street (グリーンストリート・九品仏川緑道) (Near Jiyūgaoka Sta. South Exit). Take a date, canine friend, or both for an afternoon stroll from Jiyugaoka to Kuhonbutsu. Lined with cherry trees (wonderful in spring), benches, shops and sidewalk cafes.
Shimokitazawa has many quirky shops:
- Ex. Sells artistic designed stuff like photo stands, postcards, clocks, accessories and so on.
- Yellow Pop. Carries an eclectic and well-stocked inventory of vinyl including punk, reggae, electronic, and hip-hop.
- Setagaya Boro-Ichi (世田谷ボロ市) (Take the Setagaya line to Setagaya or Kamimachi and follow the crowds). A flea market that's held on the 15th and 16th of December and January each year. It's been drawing shoppers from all over Tokyo since it started in 1578. The main attraction is used clothing (such as kimono) and antiques.
- Dept. A good spot for used men's and women's clothes.
- Haight & Ashbury, Kitazawa 2-37-2, ☏ . Vintage clothes for girls. The interior decorations are very cute.
- Warszawa Records, 2-33-11 Kitazawa, Nozaki Building 2F, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Th-Tu 13:00-22:00. For the best in deep underground/minimal wave/heavy vibes/freak folk goodness, check out Warszawa Records, possibly Tokyo's best underground record store. Stocking Night People, Sacred Bones, Mexican Summer, NNF, and more.
Central and Southern Setagaya
What Futako-Tamagawa perhaps lost in old-school charm and character it has gained in modernity and selection that rivals other major shopping areas in Tokyo. This revitalized station-front shopping area, which seems to have taken a peculiar design cue from nearby Tama Plaza, is anchored by two main shopping areas:
- Tamagawa-Takashimaya S.C. (玉川高島屋Ｓ・Ｃ) (west of Futako-Tamagawa Sta. along Tamagawa-dori). The original anchor, now renovated to keep up with its reputation as a fashion center, is home to many of the same international brand name boutiques you'd find in Ginza, Omotesandou, or Roppongi Hills. Many of its annexes are connected via pedestrian bridges or garden walkways.
- The Main Wing, South Wing, and West Wing along with Hanamizuki Court are across the street from the train station, and are home to numerous upscale brands such as Gucci, Burberry, and Lacoste. There is also a branch of Books Kinokuniya which, like its other locations across Japan, typically carries a decent selection of international publications.
- The East Wing, Keyaki Court, Garden Island and Marronnier Court are up the street on the same side of the station, and contain stores such as muji and Gap.
- Futako-Tamagawa Rise (二子玉川ライズ) (Connected to and east of Futako-Tamagawa Sta.). A complex of shopping centers and offices on the eastern end of the station. Rakuten Corporation has their headquarters right outside the station. Also has a bridge connected to a park.
- Rise Shopping Center and Dogwood Mall house many major domestic and international brand name stores, including H&M, Loft, Uniqlo, Oshman's, The North Face, and Francfranc.
- Oak Mall, Bird's Mall, and Plaza Mall are more local in flavor and are the new, modern homes for many of the businesses that were displaced by the redevelopment.
Jiyūgaoka has for a long time carried a somewhat trendy if not upscale caché. Some of its street-front stores include independent and chain apparel stores (most of which cater to women), and various zakka establishments.
Shimokitazawa is your best option for restaurants and bars.
- Buon Sangue (世田谷区太子堂), 4-20-7 B1F, ☏ . Excellent Italian traditional restaurant, with several different type of pasta, meat, fish. Wood-oven made pizza is available on the ground floor.
- Kura, at Yutenji, with others at Gotanda, Shibuya, Nakameguro, and Yotsuka-ichi-shi. This is an Italian restaurant - pasta, risotto, pizza, etc. All menu items are very inexpensive.
- La Befana, 5-31-3 Daita (30-second walk from Shimokitazawa West Exit), ☏ . Daily 12:00-14:00, 17:30-22:30. Good pizza from wood-fired stone oven, something you will be missing if you are staying for a long time in Japan. The lunch menu is excellent.
- Setagaya, Nozawa 2-1-2 1F, ☏ . 11:00-14:30 and 18:00-03:00 (closed Th). A famous ramen restaurant.
- 1 Shiro-Hige’s Cream Puff Factory (白髭のシュークリーム工房), 5-3-1 Setagaya-Daita (3 minutes from Setagaya-Daita station, 7 minutes from Shimokitazawa station. Just east (right, around corner) of north end of pedestrian bridge over east side of Setagaya-Daita station. From Shimokitazawa station west exit, go south (left) on main road. Turn west (right) when it bends at the tracks, then turn south (left) at second street on your left, then walk to the bend. From Setagaya-Daita station west exit, turn north (right), skip first small street right next to station and turn east (right) on next street, then walk until it turns. (map)), ☏ . 10:30–19:00 (closed Tu). Bakery specializing in adorable Totoro-shaped cream puffs (pictures). around ¥400 each.
- Sunday Brunch, Kitazawa 2-29-2 2F, ☏ . The French toast is very tasty.
- Trocadero, Kitazawa 3-30-3 (North exit), ☏ . Trocadero is an authentic French bistro. How authentic? The entire store was brought over from France.
- 2 Village Vanguard, Daita 6-3-1. 11:30-02:00. Hamburger shop that has many kind of very delicious hamburgers. ¥660.
- Ushi Tora, Setagaya Ward, Kitazawa 2-9-3 2F (South exit, Odakyu Line, east, south, east), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. 17:00-23:30. Two bars. One with tables & chairs, allows tobacco smoking, and accepts a credit card. One space over, a standing bar with more beers on tap, is non-smoking, and takes only cash.
Central and Southern Setagaya
Komazawa and surroundings
- Botero, Komazawa 1-17-17, ☏ . Regular holiday is Tuesday.
- Cheese Cake Factory, Yo-ga 4-28-18, ☏ . 10:00-20:00. Just what it says: it's a cheese cake shop.
- Dining cafe Tsunami, 〒154-0012 Komazawa 1-3-1 (a few minutes from Komazawa station), ☏ . 11:30-13:00 lunch only. Hawaiian food restaurant near Komazawa Station.
- Patisserie Naoki, Komazawa 1-4-12 1F, ☏ .
Futako-Tamagawa is home to both high-brow and casual cuisine alike, most of it concentrated around the train station's shopping areas. As is the case with many other shopping areas across Japan, the restaurants on the higher floors offer supreme dining experiences with great views, and the prices to match.
- Hinano (旬菜食健 ひな野), Rise Shopping Center 7F. Buffet-style restaurant focused on organic foods; balanced selection of both Japanese and Western dishes. Windows seats have surprisingly good views.
- Kua'Aina (クア・アイナ), Dogwood Plaza 7F. Branch of the Hawaiian-American burger joint found in on both sides of the Pacific.
- Moti (モティ), Dogwood Plaza 7F. Moderately priced Indian food with a great view. Vegetarian options.
- 3 Natural Crew. 11:00-23:00, 01:00 on weekends, closed on Wednesdays. Bright and pretty shop serving healthy Japanese food, brown rice, lots of vegetarian dishes including a tofu preparation that looks and tastes like karaage. They also serve locally-crafted beer. Portions are small so better add the 100¥ for extra rice. 1000¥.
- Starbucks, Dogwood Plaza 1F. While its ubiquity usually negates any need of mentioning, this particular location somewhat breaks from typical cookie-cutter mold through its unique seating arrangement and indoor garden setting.
Jiyūgaoka is fairly well-known for its mom-and-pop establishments, especially bakeries and pastry shops.
- [dead link] Jiyugaoka Burger (自由が丘バーガー), Jiyugaoka 1-3-15 4F, Meguro-ku. Domestically-sourced, organic and thick burgers in a lush balcony setting. Sets from ¥1100.
- Jiyugaoka Sweets Forest (自由が丘スイーツ・フォレスト), Midorigaoka 2-25-7, Meguro-ku (5-min walk from Jiyūgaoka Sta. South Exit). Cheerfully themed modern food park of sorts that brings together all kinds of kawaii-inspired sweets in one place.
- [dead link] Kochoo (コチュ), Okusawa 6-22-12, Setagaya-ku (3-min walk from Kuhonbutsu Station; 8-min walk from Jiyūgaoka Sta.). Specializes in sundubu, a Korean stew which actually has roots in Los Angeles. All-you-can-eat banchan, which is common practice in Korea but rare in Japan!
- 4 Mangetsu Korean Cuisine (韓国料理 満月), Hills Spiga 2F, Jiyugaoka 1-14-16, Meguro-ku (2-min walk from Jiyūgaoka Sta. South Exit). Korean-run establishment with an intimate atmosphere, great for an evening date. Good chijimi!
- 5 Peko (ペコ), Okusawa 5-27-19, Setagaya-ku (3-min walk from Jiyūgaoka Sta. South Exit). Though their specialty is pizza, the peperonchini soup pasta is beyond words for garlic lovers.
- 1 [dead link] Bear Pond Espresso, 2-36-12 Kitazawa (From Shimokitazawa station, walk north until you reach the main east-west shopping arcade, and it’s just across from the Lawson convenience store (on a corner). (From the north exit, take the left street, which goes straight to the east-west street.)), ☏ . 10:30–18:00 (closed Tu), espresso 10:30–13:00 Th–Mo. World-class espresso (very short ristretto with “sticky” texture) and excellent coffee, in a stylish, NY-style space. Ok to buy cupcakes from across the street. Ask before taking pictures.
- Ushi-Tora (うしとら), 2-9-3 Kitazawa, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Daily 17:00-04:00. Seemingly in direct competition to Kura Kura, Ushi-Tora also offers a wide selection of Japanese and U.S. microbrews on tap.
- Mother, Daizawa 5-36-14 (3 min from Shimokitazawa South Exit, on the corner just before Gyoza-no-Osho), ☏ . Multi-ethnic food and an interesting selection of imported beers, in a cave-like, Gaudi-inspired setting. If you come for food, make sure you have time to kill, as the kitchen works at a rather leisurely pace.
- The B Sangenjaya (ザ・ビー三軒茶屋), 2-17-9 Taishido (two-minute walk from Sangenjaya station North Exit A on Tokyu Denentoshi Line, two-minute walk from Sangenjaya station on Tokyu Setagaya Line), ☏ , fax: , ✉ email@example.com. Check-in: 15:00. A business style hotel convenient to transport.