Tokyo Travel Tip - Jiyugaoka
Updated: Sep 16, 2020
Jiyugaoka is a hidden gem with more to offer than Tokyo's Little Europe
Jiyugaoka has become famous for a photo spot with European atmosphere. It is a small square with Italian-style houses, a tiny canal and a gondola. However, Tokyo's «Little Europe» is the least exciting thing about Jiyugaoka.
Jiyugaoka is a tiny city in the context of Tokyo travel destinations. As few as 7.500 citizens live there, and for that reason it is also quite laid back. It is a trendy city, and its vibe might be comparable to Soho in London, The Mission in San Francisco or Södermalm in Stockholm.
So what is it Jiyugaoka has to offer? A bunch of cake shops, many interesting restaurants and bars, trendy shopping and loads of small boutiques. In addition, you'll find a sizable Muji, a mildly interesting bazaar and the best bakery in Tokyo.
How to get to Jiyugaoka?
The easiest way is to go via Shibuya station. From there you hop on the Tôkyû Tôyoko line heading for Yokohama, and get off ten minutes later at Jiyugaoka Station. On the way you will pass two other hipster-villages called DaikanYama and NakaMeguro.
It is also possible to take several busses to Jiyugaoka. These are tedious rides that should be avoided unless you want to get a glimpse of suburban Tokyo from a cramped bus seat.
Jiyugaoka sweet spots ;p
Jiyugaoka is a hodgepodge of small eateries and pubs. It is perfect for bar-hopping and snack-packing. The old school Japanese sandwiches – or Koppepan – at Tajima is a must, as well are the cinnamon bagels at Asanoya.
Even though Asanoya is a tiny chain store, with two other branches in Nippori and Ikebukuro, I dare say that this is one of the best bakeries in Tokyo. At least for my Norwegian tastebuds, it easily beats Andersen, Boul'ange, Little Mermaid and all other chains store bakeries I've tried.
Then there's the cake shops. You will find loads of small kawaii sweet shops all over Jiyugaoka. Sweets Forest is a food court of only candy and cake shops, and a good place to get your blood sugar levels up to par. The best cake shop in town, however, is called Paris S'eveille. Not only will you get the molten chocolate cake of your life, but one of the best espressos in Tokyo.
Where to get your eat and drink on?
There are, of course, izakayas to be found. Some of the best are in the Youkochô right next to Jiyugaoka Station, but be beware that the prices can be a bit stiff. For better deals, the Chinese soup dumplings at Taizan Sheng Jian, or Chinese fusion at Jin Din Rou are two great options.
The trendiest junk food joints would be the juicy Jiyugaoka Burger, the Carl's Jr. Burger, or the Chicago style pizza and craft beer at Devil's Craft. Other excellent water holes are the tiny standing bar Tachinomi Atsumari with deer curry on the menu, and a whisky bar called Speyside Way. The latter has the biggest collection of brown liqueur you've seen.
Shop til your hipster-hunger drops!
Hipster clothing shops and zakka stores are abundant in Jiyugaoka. All of them are cute, and most of them have some unique items to offer. You might have to do some searching, but this is definitely the place to go for one of a kind souvenir shopping.
Some of the more unique specialist shops are the huge Tea Shop called Lupica and the tiny nut shop called Feve. Come her for all the tea flavors in the world, and nuts in colors and flavors you never knew existed.
Also Klädskåp (Swedish for «wardrobe») is a one-of-a-kind store, which offers children's design clothes with a Scandinavian touch. For interior and furniture enthusiasts, the Acme Furniture branch in Jiyugaoka meets all your interior decoration needs.
Along the laid-back Marie Claire Promenade you’ll find many more small cafés and shops. If you're lucky you might snag a parch bench for a quiet rest under the walkway trees. If not, you can always grab a table at the local Starbucks, or swing back to Jiyugaoka Station in less than five minutes.
Jiyugaoka in short
It might be off the proverbial beaten path, but Jiyugaoka is well worth a visit when traveling to Tokyo. It is small but charming, with lots of personality and everyday Tokyo atmosphere. Jiyugaoka is cute, tasty, hip and laid back, all in one. And best of all, it is not overflowing with tourists like the more famous hipster villages, such as Shimokitazawa or Harajuku.