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.