Whenever one thinks of Tokyo, an image conjured up is that of an urban forest filled with concrete trees. There are several large parks scattered around the city. Today, I would like to introduce to you something unusual: Todoroki Valley - Tokyo's only ravine. Along with that, I'll share with you my itinerary for that day.
Todoroki Valley is located at Todoroki 等々力. It is south-west of Tokyo, a few stops west of Jiyugaoka 自由が丘, in a quiet neighborhood.
Todoroki Valley Entrance
Arrived at 0940am (took the 0903 train from Shimbashi - 36min ride)
The entrance to Todoroki Valley is just behind the Seijo Ishii supermarket, at the east side of the bridge. As you walk down, the sounds of motor vehicles passing by change into that of a stream babbling and birds chirping. The crimson red Golf-bashi bridge lends a contrasting flavour to the lush green of Todoroki Valley.
It is said that a number of students from the nearby University come here to have breakfast, so that’s exactly what we did. We stopped by at the nearest Lawsons [location] to pick up an Onigiri (that's because Seijo Ishii hasn't opened yet).
Our walk along the ravine was refreshing. There are many moments where we would pause to listen to our surroundings, and watch the animals. There are many benches for one to sit down on, to breathe and relax.
Todoroki Fudoson Temple
Arrived at 11am
Fudoson is a sub-temple of the nearby Manganji temple. It was founded by Kogyo-Daishi from the Shingon Buddhism, around 1300 years ago.
Fudoson is accessible from Todoroki Valley via a flight of stairs, located beside the Fudo falls. The landscape is gorgeous during sakura and autumn seasons.
We were fortunate that the day we visited Fudoson, they had a traditional music performance.
A sense of calmness enveloped me as I watched the trees sway in the breeze, and felt the wind flowing through my hair.
Walking to Tama River + towards Futako-Tamagawa
From Fudoson, we headed back down the stairs towards Todoroki valley except that at the first fork, we turned left. We found ourselves in a quiet residential neighborhood.
I wanted to walk towards the Tama River, and then end up at Futako-Tamagawa 二子玉川. And that's exactly what we did.
Why Futako-Tamagawa and what's interesting?
Futako-Tamagawa is an upscale neighborhood district, north of Tama River, featuring with shopping malls, a large park and numerous cafes. It is popular amongst young and affluent families.
Courtesy of Futako-Tamagawa Park Visitor Centre
The park has a traditional garden, casual football pitch, children's playground, observatory point (from which you might just be able to see Mt Fuji on a clear day), and even a Starbucks.
Lunch at Kokonotsuido
11:30am-11pm. Opens everyday
Children can dine here.
Arrived at 12:30pm.
After a long walk along the Tama River, through the park, we reached Kokonotsuido. It is an interesting restaurant. The frontage looks simple and basic, but once we got past the Noren curtains, it felt like we were in some traditional inn somewhere, minus the sunlight.
The speciality here is hand-made soba. I got the Tenzaru soba 天ざるそば（かき揚げ）which comes with a crispy ball of tenpura. While waiting for the mains to come, we ordered a sesame tofu 胡麻クリーム豆腐.
The front of the shop sells pottery. Some did catch our eyes.
Cakes at Paris S’eveille
Arrived at 2pm
I've written about Paris S'eveille in Hungry in Tokyo, but the few times I've been there, I've gone alone. This time, I get to bring @ohuaio with me. 😊
We got a delicious pear-based mousse sponge cake, and a cheese cake. You can see the spoon cutting through the sponge cake here - it was easy to cut through. The cake was light on the palate. Could easily have eaten two of that!
@ohuaio's cheese cake. It disappeared in a flash!
Warabi mochi - Another round of Tea time on the benches of Green St.
Arrived at 4pm.
After strolling around the alleys of Jiyugaoka, we decided that our sweet tooth hasn't been satisfied yet.
Warabi mochi is a delicious bouncy jelly-like mochi that is often dusted with kinako (soy-bean) powder. We've had good ones, and some bad ones, during the course of our adventures around Japan. We tried to buy Warabi mochi from this shop before but it ran out by early evening. We were lucky this time!
The Warabi mochi here has an amazing consistency. It can be cut easily with a pair of chopsticks and has a nice bounce. Delicious!
We sat on one of the benches on the Green St., like how the locals do it.
Dinner at Le Jou Jou
5pm-11pm. Open everyday
Booked for 7pm.
Le Jou Jou is a small 16 seater French-styled restaurant, opened by Chef Suzuki Takuya who has been trained extensively in Italy and Paris.
We were looking for a place to have a quiet romantic evening, and this place ticked all the boxes.
We started off with Chef Suzuki's speciality: prawn wrapped in crispy kadaif, in a glass of citrus-based mayonnaise espuma. This was followed by another one of his signature dishes: uni on top of an onsen egg, with the essence of a lobster. Creamy + creamy!
The next dish was a plate of very young asparagus shoots with parma ham, on top of a salad. This was refreshing.
Chef Suzuki surprised us with a Zucchini flower stuffed with lobster meat. Indeed, nothing goes to waste in a Japanese kitchen. Up until now, we are nowhere near the mains. The foie gras risotto was scrumptious. The pan-fried foie gras imparts an intense creamy note to the already rich risotto.
The main is pan-seared wild deer meat. We were expecting it to taste gamey but it didn't. Accompanied by a medley of vegetables, this dish led me to conclude that this restaurant is perfect for those who love food which are rich in flavours.
After our dessert, we thanked the chef for a memorable night, and for being a wonderful host. He was playing the role of the chef, waiter and the cashier. Mindblowing.
We rode the train back to Shinbashi station. Only one quick transit at Shibuya. Fuss-free.