A Day in Chofu: Traditional Buildings, Soba and Yokai



A Day in Chofu: Traditional Buildings, Soba and Yokai


Few make their way to Chofu on their Tokyo trip and many haven't even heard of it. Located west of the city's 23 wards, this quaint area might not appear to have much to offer at a first glance. If explored, however, Chofu reveals an unsuspected charm and many beautiful spots worth the visit, including the second oldest temple in Tokyo, a unique festival, streets lined with traditional buildings, encounters with yokai and great food.

Here is our report from spending a day in Chofu, seeking out what this hidden gem has to offer.

Feeling the History at Jindaiji Temple

Jindaiji Temple

The first thing we did upon arriving at Chofu Station was taking the number 34 bus to Jindaiji Temple. Nestled on a hillside, this temple covers a large area that includes the main hall (picture above) and several other buildings.
Founded almost 1300 years ago in 733, Jindaiji is the second oldest temple in Tokyo after the Sensoji in Asakusa. 
San-mon entrance gate at Jindaiji Temple in Chofu

This entrance gate is called San-mon and it's the temple's oldest building. It also has a unique design with a thatched roof.

Near the temple grounds are also the Jindai Botanical Gardens, filled with beautiful seasonal flowers and plants.


Jindaiji Temple | 深大寺
Address: 5-15-1 Jindaiji Motomachi, Chofu-shi, Tokyo (MAP)
Access: From Chofu Station take the Keio bus bound for Jindaiji and get off at the last stop (approx. 15 min. ride).
■Catch the Daruma Market in March!
Jindaiji Temple

Every year on March 3rd and 4th Jindaiji Temple hosts the Daruma ichi. Over 300 stalls selling Daruma dolls gather on the temple grounds during this celebration.

Daruma dolls are considered a symbol of perseverance and they're often displayed in many Japanese houses and establishments. When you have a resolution or something that you want to accomplish, draw in one of the daruma's eyes. When the desired thing is accomplished you draw the other eye in (the significance and use of the Daruma might vary in certain areas and traditions).

Traditional Houses, Waterwheels and Street Food

The area around Jindaiji Temple is rich in spring water and was said to be suited for the cultivation of buckwheat (soba in Japanese). For this reason the local peasants used to offer buckwheat to the temple rather than rice during the Edo period (1603-1868). The temple then used it to make soba noodles for its visitors.
To this day the temple grounds and the streets around it are lined with traditional soba restaurants. The beautiful wooden buildings make for a great atmosphere and a perfect background for a stroll. After visiting Jindaiji we decided to walk around for a while and try some of the local street food.
Some picturesque soba restaurants inside the temple grounds, Chofu
Some picturesque soba restaurants inside the temple grounds
Soba restaurant immersed in nature, Chofu, Tokyo
Soba restaurant immersed in nature
Waterwheel by Jindaiji Temple, Chofu, Tokyo

There are even some waterwheels around the area. The Jindaiji Suishakan (pictured above) is a working one that also hosts a display on waterwheels. If you request it in advance you can use it to process your own rice or grind your buckwheat into flour.
The rhythmic sound of the waterwheel turning is very soothing and we spent some time just listening to it.
Soba pan from Ameya, Chofu
Soba pan - 300 yen

Many of the shops in the area sell sweets and snacks made with buckwheat. One of the most popular is the soba bread from Ameya. They use buckwheat to make extra soft steamed buns that they fill with a variety of ingredients. We tried the keema curry bun.


Ameya | あめや
Address: 5-15-10 Jindaiji Motomachi, Chofu-shi, Tokyo (MAP)
Jizo Village near Jindaiji Temple

A little slope on the western side of Jindaiji took us to the Jizo Village. This tiny green area is dotted with statues of Jizo, protector of travelers and children. It's a little magical place that's worth passing through.


Jizo no Sato | 地蔵の里
Address: 5 Jindaiji Motomachi, Chofu-shi, Tōkyō-to (MAP)
■Bonus: secret Mt. Fuji viewing spot!
View of Mt. Fuji from Chofu, Tokyo

If you keep walking up the hill past the Jizo Village you will get to a cemetery. On a clear day you can get a really nice view of Mt. Fuji from here! We only noticed it because a very nice Japanese lady came out of nowhere and literally dragged us to the spot.

Trying Jindaiji Soba

After some exploration it was time to try this famous Jindaiji soba! So many restaurants are concentrated in this area so there's a lot of choice. We headed to a place called Yusui that had some nice tables outside.
Yusui tenmori soba - 1450 yen
Yusui tenmori soba - 1,450 yen

Our first pick was a classic set of cold soba and tempura. The noodles were very fresh and the dipping sauce delicious.
Nishin soba - 1000 yen
Nishin soba - 1,000 yen

Since there are so many soba restaurants around here it's no surprise that they will come up with different and unique dishes. So we also tried a hot bowl of soba topped with a very tasty simmered herring.
Jindaiji craft beer

Of course we had to wash down our meal with a local craft beer! Jindaiji beer is made with German yeast and local spring water. You can find it in most restaurants and shops around here.


Yusui | 湧水
Address: 5-9-1 Jindaiji Motomachi, Chofu-shi, Tokyo (MAP)
Hours: 10:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Closed on Thursday
Website (Japanese-only):

Having Tea with the Yokai

On the picturesque street leading up to Jindaiji is a big building that seems to be haunted by yokai (Japanese traditional monsters). These are the characters from Gegege no Kitaro, a famous manga series by Shigeru Mizuki. The author lived in Chofu for part of his life and that's why there are many tributes to him in the area. Kitaro Chaya is a shop and cafe themed after Gegege no Kitaro.
Kitaro Chaya at Jindaiji, Chofu
©MIZUKI Productions

We stopped by to browse the shop and try the themed menu inside the café.
Matcha set at Kitaro Chaya
©MIZUKI Productions
Yokai Matcha set - 600 yen

This classic set of matcha tea and sweets comes with two sweet cakes shaped like characters from the manga. The choices are random so you never know which characters you get.
Gegege latte at Kitaro Chaya
©MIZUKI Productions
Gegege latte - 500 yen

For coffee lovers, you can choose between four different designs of Kitaro-themed latte art.
Gegege no Kitaro-themed Soft serve ice cream
©MIZUKI Productions
Soft serve ice cream - 400 yen

The nice weather outside called for an ice cream. Even this is haunted by yokai! Fans of the series will recognize the flying yokai Ittanmomen in the spoon, and the eyeball of Medamaoyaji made from a mochi cake.


Kitaro Chaya | 鬼太郎茶屋 調布市深大寺店
Address: 5-12-8 Jindaiji Motomachi, Chofu-shi, Tokyo (MAP)
Hours: 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. (food/drink last order 4:30)
Closed on Monday (closure moved to following day if Monday is a holiday)
Website (Japanese-only): 

Exploring Residential Tokyo

From the Jindaiji area we decided to walk back to the station instead of taking the bus. It's a 30 minute walk and there are more things to discover along the way.
Sakura along the No River in Chofu, Tokyo

We walked through pretty and quiet residential neighborhoods, past houses perched on top of slopes and kids playing in the streets. Crossing the No river we stopped to bask in the late afternoon sunlight.
Fudaten Shrine in Chofu, Tokyo

The road took us straight to Fudaten Shrine, considered a "power spot" by locals. The shrine is dedicated to the god of learning and many people come here to pray for good results in exams and school. A trademark of the shrine is the big ox statue that is said to bring good fortune if stroked.
Gegege no Kitaro-themed omikuji at Fudaten Shrine, Chofu
©MIZUKI Productions

The fortune-telling sheets called omikuji at Fudaten Shrine are themed after Gegege no Kitaro! Another homage to Shigeru Mizuki.


Fudaten Shrine | 布多天神社
Address: 1-8-1 Chofugaoka, Chofu-shi, Tokyo (MAP)
Website (Japanese-only):
Tenjin-dori Shopping Street in Chofu, Tokyo
©MIZUKI Productions

On the way back to the station we took a stroll through Tenjin-dori, a shopping street that is famous for featuring statues of Gegege no Kitaro characters. Here you'll find all kinds of restaurants and cafes, as well as sweets and souvenir shops. The road has a local feel and it's a lot of fun to explore.


Tenjin-dori Shotengai | 天神通商店街
Address: 1-3 Fuda, Chofu-shi, Tokyo (MAP)

Chofu Station | 調布駅
Access: approx. 15 minutes from Shinjuku Station on the Keio Line



We hope you enjoyed virtually spending a day in Chofu with us! Chofu is a great day activity for those who want to explore the lesser-known parts of Tokyo. Here you can find history, traditional food, pop culture and a local vibe all in one place.

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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