Date Visited: March 18, 2017
- Jindai Botanical Garden
- Jindaiji Temple
- Yumori no Sato (Hot Spring)
“Are we still in Tokyo?” My best friend Yui asked the moment we got off the bus. The night before, I had asked her on a whim if she wanted to go to Jindai Botanical Garden. We knew it was too early and too cold to see flowers, but we decided to do a bit of hanami before we went to have drinks.
It was a grey afternoon, and since we both had not been to the area before, we had no idea what to expect. Chofu was every bit a part of Tokyo, but the area where the park is located is far removed from the hustle and bustle of the city. It was quiet and peaceful, the perfect destination for souls worn out by the daily grind.
Jindai Botanical Garden
Spanning 425,433 square meters, Jindai Botanical Garden is a vast wonderland of flowers and trees. Among the favorites are roses, plums, cherry blossoms, bamboo groves and azaleas. There are also plenty of rest areas where you can just sit down and relax while you drink a bit of sake or busy yourself with a book.
We entered the garden past 13:00 and walked around at a leisurely pace. (The word “fast” does not exist in Yui’s vocabulary.) Because of that, we didn’t get to explore the entirety of the park. The trees were mostly bare but the visit was nothing short of magical. Jindai Botanical Garden simply is a relaxing space that cultivates happy thoughts.
Alas, magic has its limits, and when the closing music played, guards on bikes patrolled to usher customers out. At that point we had wandered far from the main entrance, so we were advised to exit through a different gate instead. We intended to hop on a bus that gets us back to the station, but the exit we used lead us to Jindaiji Temple instead, and we decided to keep on exploring.
The second oldest temple in Tokyo, Jindaiji stands strong and proud. At the hondō (main temple) rests an objet of the Chinese character for water on one end, and a huge daruma doll on the other.
The temple itself was built to honor the Buddhist water god Jinja Daiō, which explains the veneration for water. More importantly, clean spring water serves as one of the valuable resources of Jindaiji, as seen in the many waterwheels that people still use as ornaments today.
It is also because of clean spring water that Jindaiji is a popular soba (buckwheat noodles) destination. Soba shops surround the temple along with stalls selling traditional crafts and ornaments. One shop even offered a paint-your-own-teacup workshop, but we unfortunately weren’t able to make it in time.
Jindaiji also hosts the 3rd largest daruma festival in Japan, which explains the daruma doll at the temple. These dolls symbolize perseverance, because they are crafted in such a way that they always stand upright on flat surfaces. You can push them and they will tumble, but not actually fall.
Among the interesting things we found at Jindaiji is the pet temple and cemetery. Near the entrance hung ema (wooden plaques) where people wrote prayers for their beloved companions, some for the living and some for the sorely missed.
Further inside was a columbarium. As someone who grew up with cats and dogs as constant companions, I was moved at the lengths people went to honor their departed pets.
Yumori no Sato
As the last light of day vanished into the night, we made our way to the nearest bus station with the intentions of going home. That is, until we overheard people talking about hot springs. Yui and I love hot springs, so we quickly went on Google Maps to see if there were any nearby, and luckily, we found Yumori no Sato.
At JPY 1,200 (JPY 700 for children), Yumori no Sato is the perfect reward after a day of exploring. The facility included both indoor and outdoor hot springs, a restaurant, gambanyoku (bedrock sauna), a spa, and a resting area with cushions, pillows and blankets. The outdoor hot springs consisted of different baths including a curious one that runs with electric pulses. Yumori also offers free shuttle rides to and from the nearest train stations, because let’s face it, after a warm bath, walking isn’t very appealing.
Chofu is a wonderful destination for anyone who wants a Tokyo day trip to relax and rejuvenate. We went to the area without any plans, but we ended up having a splendid time. Tokyo has a lot of thrill and excitement to offer, but one can always step into quieter spaces, if one knows where to look.
Jindaiji Botanical Garden
Hours: 09:30 – 17:00, Closed on Mondays
Entrance Fee: Adults (16 and above) – JPY 500; Seniors – 250; Students (13-15) – 200; Children below 13 – free
1. From Keio Line Chofu Station
Take the Odakyu bus for either Kichijoji or Mitaka and get off at “Jindai Shokubutsu Kōen Mae.”
2. From Keio Line Tsutsujigaoka Station
Take the Keio bus for Jindaiji and get off at “Jindai Shokubutsu Kōen Mae.”
3. JR Chuo Line Mitaka Station or Kichijoji Station
Take the Odakyu bus for Chofu Kitaguchi or Jindaji and get off at “Jindai Shokubutsu Kōen Mae.”
Hours: 08:00 – 17:00
1. From Chofu Station North Exit
Take the Keio Bus for Jindaiji, Kichijoji Station, or Mitaka Station and get off at “Jindaiji” or “Jindaiji Iriguchi”
2. From Tsutsujigaoka Station North Exit
Take the Odakyu bus for Jindaiji and get off at “Jindaiji.”
3. From JR Kichijoji Station South Exit or JR Mitaka Station South Exit
Take the Odakyu bus for Jindaiji or Chofu Station North Exit and get off at “Jindaiji” or “Jindaiji Iriguchi.
Yumori no Sato
Hours: 10:00 – 22:00
Entrance Fee: Adults – JPY 1,200; Children (0-12) – JPY 700
Access: Free shuttle from either Keio Line Chofu Station North Exit or JR Seibu Line Musashi-sakai Station