Explore Fukagawa

February 16, 2012 by

Day Trips, Sightseeing, Travel Tips

Fukagawa "Mizukake" Matsuri, in Fukagawa, Tokyo, Japan. Photo courtesy of ayustety via Flickr.

Fukagawa "Mizukake" Matsuri, in Fukagawa, Tokyo, Japan. Photo courtesy of ayustety via Flickr.

Fukagawa is an old neighborhood in Tokyo just 3km (1.8m) east of the Imperial Palace and Tokyo Station. It started life as a merchant district in the old city of Edo and the parks and temples here can take the visitor on a trip back in time.

An easy walk from Kiyosumi-Shirakawa Station (on the Toei Odeo subway line) takes you past several interesting sights, including a museum, beautiful Japanese gardens, a temple, and a shrine.

Make your first stop the Fukagawa Edo Museum, which reconstructs Fukagawa street scenes as they would have appeared during the Edo period. It’s a small museum – easily explored in less than an hour – with accurate depictions that represent the trades of the day, the typical houses, shops and even a canal! (Note that the museum is closed on the second and fourth Monday of each month.)

Cross the main road outside the museum (Kiyosumi-dori Avenue) and you will find the serene Kiyosumi Teien Gardens. An example of an ancient feudal lord’s pleasure garden, Kiyosumi Teien has been kept exquisitely manicured and is considered a superb example of the sukiya style, which dates from the late 16th century. Expect to see a wide array of bird life, turtles, and carp living it up in the pond.

From here, head to the temples of Fukagawa Enma-Do and Fukagawa Fudoson. Step inside Fukagawa Enma-Do (1629) and prepare to be surprised at the ultra modern ‘sci-fi’ refashioning of its interior. Further along the main avenue and down a side street, Fukagawa Fudoson is equally unusual. Acting as a ‘Buddhist traffic temple,’ the monks bless the cars that stop here while drivers pray to remain safe on the road.

To finish your Fukagawa tour, visit the Tomioka Hachiman-gu shrine. The grounds here are wooded and spacious and offer a welcome respite from the bustling main street.

- Emma McMahon

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