- Though a 20-minute train ride from Shibuya, you won’t believe you’re in Tokyo when arriving at Todoroki Station. Five minutes on foot from the station is Todoroki Valley entrance, thick with lush, green trees. Other trees, reaching some 20 meters, fill the valley as water curls and flows on to become a river, moving along to touch the life along banks of various places. Fauna thrive, from butterflies and insects to bush warblers, aka Japanese nightingales (uguisu), chirping overhead. On the river are spot-billed ducks swimming at leisure. Here is a calm and quiet place, apart yet not terribly far from urban hubbub, haste, and hassles, where natural beauty is all around you—in the hushed tones of streams, birdsong, and sunlight falling in brilliant beams dancing down the branches.
Stone Buddha sculptures near Fudo Falls.
- Descend the stairway at the foot of a red bridge, visible from valley entrance, and your feet lead you to another world, a world of green things and waterways, birds and butterflies, shrines and temples. Ages ago, Yazawa River sluiced across the landscape to carve out a gorge 10 meters deep and now joins up with Tama River. A hiking trail follows the ravine into the gorge, and you can take a leisurely walk along the river, go past Tamazawa Bridge, and follow a byway on your left. This takes you to Todoroki Valley Tunnel Tomb No.3. Set into a cliff face on the left bank, the tunnel tomb has a glass window by which you can look into the past, when the tomb was built between the late sixth to early eighth century. Six tunnel tombs are designated as historic sites of Tokyo. Did people long ago believe them to be sacred, a place of worship and prayer? The answer lies in the whispering leaves and the flowing water.
spot-billed duck in Yazawa River
- Head back to where the trail diverged into the byway and head downstream, cross a small bridge, and find Chigo Daishi Mieido Shrine, where natural spring water and gorgeous views of the gorge await in this place of worship. Not far from the shrine is another sacred site: Fudo Falls, where mountain ascetics have trained and may still do so under plummeting waters. Take your rest from walking on the wild side at Setsugekka, a thatchroofed teahouse cafe with traditional huge red umbrellas and tea benches where you sip matcha green tea and munch on traditional sweets as you take in the beauty. If you can pull yourself away from this lovely rest stop, climb the stairs beside the falls, and you’ll reach the temple of Todoroki Fudoson.
- An observation deck overlooks the gorge and its springtime cherry blossoms, summer foliage, and rich palette of autumn leaves: beauty revealed as the year turns through the seasons.
main gate of Todoroki Fudoson, temple at valley’s southern end
- Take Tokyu Toyoko Line from Shibuya to Jiyugaoka Station (about 9 min. by express
train), transfer to Tokyu Oimachi Line, and get off at Todoroki Station (approx. 5 min.).
The valley is but a five-minute walk away.