Secret Tokyo Neighborhoods: Trendy Shops, Sweets, and a European Vibe in Jiyugaoka



Secret Tokyo Neighborhoods: Trendy Shops, Sweets, and a European Vibe in Jiyugaoka


What district would you like to call home if you lived in Tokyo? A lot of the locals would answer Jiyugaoka.
Popular among Tokyoites but not touristy, this residential and trendy neighborhood is a great off the beaten path destination just a 10-minute train ride from Shibuya.

Destroyed but quickly rebuilt after WWII, Jiyugaoka boasts a European vibe and photogenic streets. The area is brimming with cozy cafes, homeware stores, fashion boutiques and many, many sweets.

Statue near Jiyugaoka Station


Cool signs near Jiyugaoka Station


Tokyo's Hidden Benches!

Just one block off Jiyugaoka Station you'll find Marie Claire Promenade and Green Way. With a Parisienne atmosphere, the streets are pedestrian-friendly and lined with benches. This is a real treat in Tokyo as benches are very scarce. Here you'll meet young couples sharing a glass of wine, groups of chatty old ladies walking their minuscule dogs, and other locals just enjoying the permanent weekend-like atmosphere.
Streets with benches in Jiyugaoka

On both sides are many interesting shops, as well as trendy food and drink stalls. The streets are also a great sakura viewing spot in spring as they are lined with cherry blossoms.
Drink stand in Jiyugaoka

Many shops set up outside stalls selling food and drinks that the passersby can enjoy while chilling on the benches. The street becomes very lively and fills with even more food stalls in May, during the annual Marie Claire Festival.


Marie Claire Promenade and Green Way
Access: 1 min. walk form Jiyugaoka Station South Exit (MAP)

Tokyo's Little - Very Little! -  Piece of Italy

Just a few blocks up the street we find ourselves moving from Paris to Venice. Hidden among the neighborhood's narrow alleys is La Vita. Turning the corner you are met with a canal, a gondola, and a venetian bridge in this miniature Italy-themed square. There are some shops and cafes inside it, but most people come for the pictures. 
La Vita, Jiyugaoka


La Vita | ラ・ヴィータ
Address: 2-8-3 Jiyugaoka, Meguro-ku, Tokyo (MAP)
Access: 6 min. walk from Jiyugaoka Station Main Exit

Snippets of Traditional Japan

If you've been here long enough you'll know that Tokyo is the city of contrasts. In fact, right across the street from La Vita is Kosoan, a traditional residence from the Taisho era (1912-1926) that has been restored to host a cafe and gallery. Follow the stone path to the inner garden and slide open the delicate door to the interior. Here you can enjoy green tea, seasonal sweets, and traditional Japanese desserts. The atmosphere is peaceful with antiques and curious Japanese trinkets hanging on the walls to see.
Kosoan tea house, Jiyugaoka

We went for a classic bowl with matcha green tea and a fruit-packed anmitsu, a sweet and delicate Japanese dessert. The tea room offers a beautiful view of the inner garden. We spent some blissful moments here feeling like old-time Japanese aristocrats.
Tea and anmitsu, Jiyugaoka


Kosoan | 古桑庵
Address: 1-24-23 Jiyugaoka, Meguro-ku, Tokyo (MAP)
Access: 6 min. walk from Jiyugaoka Station Main Exit
Website (Japanese-only):

A Shrine Hidden Among Trees

Next to Kosoan, but hidden behind a wall and shrouded under trees is Kumano Shrine. Entering through the main gate will lead you up a long path away from the main roads. The shrine is more than 800 years old and filled with greenery. Wander the grounds and see if you can spot any of the hidden statues! Kumano Shrine also hosts the Jiyugaoka International Friendship Mikoshi Festival every September. 
Kumano Shrine, Jiyugaoka


Kumano Shrine |  熊野神社
Address: 1-24-12 Jiyugaoka, Meguro-ku, Tokyo (MAP)
Access: 5 min. walk from Jiyugaoka Station Main Exit

The Town of Sweets

One thing you will find a lot of here is sweets. From cozy cafes to street stands, this place is a paradise for visitors with a big sweet tooth. You might want to grab a quick bite from Bake Cheese Tart while you’re on the go, or sit down for tea and cookies at the Peter Rabbit Cafe, with a Peter Rabbit plush sitting at every table. However, my personal recommendation is Sweets Forest
Sweets Forest Jiyugaoka

Sweets Forest is a complex of 8 sweet shops with a cute and colorful forest theme. The atmosphere is slightly reminiscent of Alice in Wonderland. Here you’ll find everything from cakes to crepes to candy.
Inside Sweets Forest in Jiyugaoka

I went for a seasonally-themed parfait with ice cream, whipped cream, berry syrup, sponge cake and chestnuts! It was really big. Great size to share with someone. They also have dedicated spots to take pictures with your treat. 

Parfait at Sweets Forest Jiyugaoka


Parfait at Sweets Forest Jiyugaoka


Jiyugaoka Sweets Forest | 自由が丘スイーツフォレスト
Address: 2-25-7 Jiyugaoka, Meguro-ku, Tokyo (MAP)
Access: 4 min. walk From Jiyugaoka Station South Exit
Website (Japanese-only):

Shopping With Style

A lot of people love a relaxing shopping afternoon in Jiyugaoka, very different from the overload of stimuli that you'd get from a walk in places like Shibuya. The quiet streets have a wide variety of shops to browse. There are houseware shops and craft goods that will spark your creativity along with some designer goods. So many unique and stylish things that really fit the town’s atmosphere. 
Shops in Jiyugaoka

Many people who live in Jiyugaoka own dogs, so there are also a lot of pet supply stores in the area. That's another perk of taking a walk around here, you get to see a lot of cute dogs.
Dog owners in Jiyugaoka

During my first stroll in Jiyugaoka the fancy building in the picture below caught my attention. It turns out that it's a dog luxury salon. It's not only humans that treat themselves here.
Pet salon in Jiyugaoka


While in the Area, Take a Nature Break

Bonus spot! Just a short 5-minute train ride from Jiyugaoka is Todoroki. A natural gorge, Todoroki Valley is a green oasis in Tokyo where you can forget you are in the city. It also features a tea house, Japanese garden, a bamboo grove, an ancient tomb, waterfalls, and a temple. Together with Jiyugaoka, this stop makes a wonderful full day of both city shopping, and enjoying nature.
Todoroki Valley near Jiyugaoka
Todoroki Valley ■Read more about Todoroki on DiGJAPAN!
◇Todoroki Valley, a Secret Nature Hideout in Tokyo    

A Little Bit of Everything Packed Into One Day

Where else can you walk the streets of Paris, see the canals of Venice, have matcha in an authentic Japanese tea house, and get lost in a forest of sweets? Jiyugaoka is a great spot to spend a day and explore all the little unique shops and cafes scattered along its pretty streets.
Jiyugaoka streets


Jiyugaoka | 自由が丘
Access: 10 min. from Shibuya Station on the Tokyu Toyoko Line

About the author
Laura is an Italian living and working in Tokyo. She loves exploring hidden and unknown places, taking pictures and listening to Punk Rock music. When she’s not busy doing the above, she might enjoy a craft beer or play the sanshin (an Okinawan instrument similar to a shamisen).

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