10 Things to Do in Setagaya

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Setagaya - Shimokitazawa
Source: urbz

When people think of places to go in Japan that are in or near Tokyo, the first areas that come to their minds may be the very popular Shibuya, Akihabara, or Harajuku. However, if you’re a true explorer and adventurer at heart, then you’ll definitely want to wander off the beaten path to Setagaya, which is very close to Central Tokyo.

Setagaya isn’t a regular tourist pick, which is one of the reasons why you should go there. Aside from being underrated, the ward of Setagaya offers an area of trendy shops, cafes, and more! Of the 23 special wards of Tokyo, Setagaya has the largest population. Yet it’s a great place to stay if you want to shy away from the frantic bustle of the city and find a more down-to-earth environment to relax in. Here are a few things to do when  you’re there.

 1. Explore the area of Shimokitazawa

Source: Sae Fujimura

If you’re one of those adventurous souls who describe themselves as young (or young at heart), then Shimokitazawa is a place you should definitely visit when you’re in Japan. When navigating around the town, it would be best to go by foot because it’s filled with narrow paths. There’s much to see in the area, such as bars, live houses, secondhand clothing shops, small boutiques, vintage shops… Shimokitazawa is the ultimate old soul-slash-hipster’s paradise. If you’re a film fanatic, it would be best to visit during February, when the Shimokitazawa Theater Festival is held for the entire month. The town hosts other brilliant festivals as well, such as the Music Festival in July and Mikoshi-matsuri (portable shrine) Festival and the Tengu-matsuri festival.


  • Name: Shimokitazawa
  • Address: Kitazawa, Setagaya, Tokyo 155-0031, Japan
  • Website: http://www.jnto.go.jp/eng/location/regional/tokyo/shimokita.html

2. Be one with nature at Todoroki Valley

Todoroki Valley
Source: Guilhem Vellut

Now imagine you’re in the middle of Tokyo, with cars rushing past you and the noise of incessant chatter, horns, televisions, and life just resounding through the whole city. Imagine then that you head southwest of the center, just near the city, and suddenly you stumble upon… green?

Actually, you wouldn’t be having a hallucination. The beautiful stretch of Todoroki Valley is just a few minutes away from the busy Japanese capital. It’s also the only authentic valley in all of Tokyo, and isn’t like the man-made parks in the city. At Todoroki Valley, you can have a short 1.2 km walk amidst majestic trees towards the Todoroki Fudo temple. You’ll find a narrow stream that perfectly complements the tranquility, as well as unique fish and birds around. During the walk, you’ll find more interesting things like the Chigo Daishi Mieido and the Golf Bridge. All in all, it’s a wonderful resting place if you want a few minutes of peace.


  • Name: Todoroki Valley
  • Address: Setagaya 158-0082, Tokyo Prefecture
  • Parking: No
  • Restroom: Yes
  • Recommended Visiting Time: Summer or Autumn

3. Get closer to the sky at the Carrot Tower

Source: PRODick Thomas Johnson

If you aren’t afraid of heights, you should visit the Carrot Tower Observatory, the tallest building in Setagaya. Head to the observatory on the 26th floor and you won’t be disappointed, especially as it’s completely free unlike other observation decks in Tokyo. If you like listening to the radio, the Carrot Tower is also home to the local Setagaya FM station. Simply turn it up when you’re looking down at the view for the best experience. The rest of the floors have surprises as well, and you might just be able to find something you’d like to bring home as a souvenir or food from the shops inside.


  • Name: Carrot Tower Observatory
  • Address: 4-1-1 Taishido, Setagaya 154-0004, Tokyo Prefecture
  • Price: Free
  • Business hours: 9:30 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.
  • Closest station: Sangenjaya

4. Eat your heart out at different restaurants

Shirohige's Cream Puff Factory
Source: City Foodsters

Setagaya is a haven for food lovers, with many different choices of dishes from delectable Japanese food to succulent international courses to delicious pastries and desserts.  Three of our top choices for food stops at Setagaya are the Taiwannikumanrugan, where you can get very affordable and local-recommended treats; Shirube Shimokitazawaten, where the best Japanese meals are served; and Shiro-Hige’s Cream Puff Factory Restaurant, which is a delightful eatery where you can find cute pastries.


  • Name: Taiwannikumanrugan
  • Address: 3-1-12 Setagaya, Setagaya 154-0017, Tokyo Prefect
  • Must-try: Steamed meat buns and dim sum


  • Name: Shirube Shimokitazawaten
  • Address: 2-18-2 Kitazawa, Setagaya 155-0031, Tokyo Prefecture
  • Must-try: Mackerel


  • Name: Shiro-Hige’s Cream Puff Factory Restaurant
  • Address: 5-3-1 Daita, Setagaya 155-0033, Tokyo Prefecture
  • Must-try: Totoro puff cakes

5. Pay respects and learn history at Shoin Shrine

Shoin Shrine
Source: mrhayata

The shrine was put up in honor of Yoshida Shoin, who lived in the mid-1800s and stood for enlightenment and acceptance of learning Western ways. He openly made a stand against the shogunate and was sentenced to death at age 30. Because of his heroic acts, he now has a place at Shoin Shrine. You can also see his former residence, the school where he taught, and a history museum. If you want to learn more about the culture and history of Japan, this is a great place to start.


  • Name: Shoin Shrine
  • Address: 4-35-1 Wakabayashi, Setagaya 154-0023,Tokyo Prefecture
  • Open hours: 7:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
  • Website: http://eng.shoinjinja.org/

6. Get some exercise at Komazawa Olympic Park

Komazawa Olympic Park
Source: yoppy

Used as the second stadium for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, the Komazawa Olympic Park is now being used for smaller sporting events by reservation. The listed facilities of the park include jogging and cycling courses, sporting grounds, tennis courts, an archery range, a children’s field, dog run, splashing pond, and more. The area is also surrounded by beautiful large trees and sculpted hedges. Occasionally, the park is used as a flea market by vendors.


  • Name: Komazawa Olympic Park
  • Availability: https://www.tef.or.jp/kopgp/en_closure.jsp
  • Website: https://www.tef.or.jp/kopgp/en_index.jsp

7. Appreciate culture at some of Setagaya’s many museums

Gotoh Museum Japanese Garden
Source: karitsu

Setagaya has its fair share of culture, art, and remembrance. Included in the museums you should visit are the Seikado Bunko Art Museum, Hasegawa Machiko Art Museum, Setagaya Art Museum, and the Gotoh Museum. Each museum has its own special exhibits and collections, and all of them are worth taking a look at. Experience Japan’s culture and art now!


  • Name: Seikado Bunko Art Museum
  • Address: 2-23-1 Okamoto, Setagaya 157-0076 , Tokyo Prefecture
  • Price: Adults 1,000yen, University and high school students 700yen,
    Junior high and elementary school students free
  • Museum hours: 10 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
  • Closest station: Futako-Tamagawa
  • Website: http://www.seikado.or.jp/en/index.html


  • Name: Hasegawa Machiko Art Museum
  • Address: 1-30-6 Sakura Shinmachi, Setagaya 154-0015, Tokyo Prefecture
  • Price: Adults 600yen, University and high school students 500yen,
    Junior high and elementary school students 400yen
  • Museum hours: 10:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
  • Must-see: Annual Sasae-san exhibit
  • Closest station: Sakurashinmachi
  • Website: http://www.hasegawamachiko.jp/


  • Name: Setagaya Art Museum
  • Address: 1-2 Kinutakoen, Setagaya 157-0075, Tokyo Prefecture
  • Museum hours: 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
  • Holidays: Closed Mondays
  • Must-see: Over 10,000 local and international pieces
  • Closest station: Yoga
  • Website: http://www.setagayaartmuseum.or.jp/index_e.html


  • Name: Gotoh Museum
  • Address: 3-9-25 Kaminoge, Setagaya 158-0093, Tokyo Prefecture
  • Price: Adults 1,000yen, University and high school students 700yen,
    Junior high and elementary school students free
  • Museum hours: 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
  • Must-see: Hand scroll collection of the Tale of Genji
  • Closest station:
  • Website: http://www.gotoh-museum.or.jp

8. View plum blossoms at Hanegi Park

Hanegi Park
Source: yy

Go to Hanegi Park in the spring in time for the beautiful annual Plum or Ume Festival. Join over 400,000 people of different backgrounds in the viewing and celebration of the majestic trees. You can bring your own food and have a picnic with your loved ones on the park benches, or you can buy food from the food and refreshment stalls in the area during the festival. There’s also a tea stand in the park. It’s quite popular, so you’ll have to fall in line, but it’s a great experience as there won’t only be tea but instrumental performances such as the koto as well.


  • Name: Hanegi Park
  • Address: 4-38-52 Daita, Setagaya, Tokyo
  • Hours: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (the festival)
  • Closest station: Umegaoka, Higashi-Matsubara

9. Have a shopping spree at Futako Tamagawa Rise

Futako Tamagawa Rise
Source: shuzo serikawa

The giant shopping mall just opened recently and is a one-stop go to for all your essentials, cravings, and interests. Electronics, books, big-brand clothing and apparel, toys, a huge 10-screen cinema complex, a gym, a swimming pool, and more, the Futako Tamagawa Rise is great for a weekend shopping spree, or maybe even just for stocking up on supplies. And when you’re done with all your shopping, you can go outside and relax in the park right next to it — the perfect end to a perfect day.


  • Name: Futako Tamagawa Rise
  • Address: 2-21-1 Tamagawa, Setagaya 158-0094 ,Tokyo Prefecture
  • Business hours: Depends on the shop. See http://sc.rise.sc.e.rv.hp.transer.com/business/
  • Closest station: Futako-Tamagawa
  • Website: http://www.rise.sc.e.rv.hp.transer.com/

10. Feel the culture at Boroichi

Of course, if you’re strapped for cash or would rather look for lower priced items, you can always go to the largest flea market in Tokyo. Boroichi is famous for its great bargain prices and culture. It’s been a tradition in Tokyo for more than 400 years and has everything you need — and want — from toys to keepsakes to kitchenware clothing to plants to food to anything you can imagine. There are over 700 stalls with tons of different things to choose from. It’s a guarantee you won’t be leaving Boroichi empty handed.


  • Name: Boroichi Flea Market
  • Address: Boroichi-dori Street, Setagaya 1-chome, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo
  • Dates: January 15-16 and December 15-16
  • Time: 9 a.m. – 9 p.m.
  • Closest stations: Setagaya, Kamimachi

Setagaya is an underrated place in Tokyo that you have to go to if you truly want to travel and get to know the authentic wonder that is Japan.

Have a good trip and travel!

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Asia, Japan, Kanto Region, Tokyo Prefecture