Let’s Meet Up at Chofu Station on Keio Line.
From Shinjuku, Special Express takes you to Chofu in just 16 minutes, and even Semi-Express in 23 minutes! Thus, Chofu is much closer than you might think.
Tenjin-dori Shopping Arcade, a Path Leading from Chofu Station to Fudaten Shrine.
Cross the Scramble Crossing diagonally, and you will find Kitaro (a main character of GeGeGe no Kitaro)! This is the entrance of the Tenjin-dori Shopping Arcade.
The street is the approach to Fudaten Shrine, but the reason I walk on this street is…
That the characters of GeGeGe no Kitaro can be seen everywhere!
Chofu is where the creator of Kitaro (Shigeru Mizuki) lives, and was once used as a filming location for a drama based on his life story.
In the shopping arcade, we stop by a Japanese confectionary shop Chiyofu Seifu-do. This looks just like a common local sweet shop, but…
They sell such unique items as ‘Lemon Cheese Daifuku’ and ‘Coffee Daifuku’! (Daifuku means Japanese rice cake with sweet filling. We get their limited item, Lemon Cheese Daifuku. We are happy to have dropped by such a great shop, though we were almost walking past the place!
Let’s head toward Fudaten Shrine while eating the daifuku. I take a bite, wondering what it tastes like. Wow! This is really good! The combination of lemon filling and cheese reminds me of some Western-style sweets, but the soft rice cake makes the daifuku undoubtedly Japanese!
Here we are at Fudaten Shrine! It Looks More Sacred in Rain!
Michizane Sugawara, known as the god of learning, is enshrined here at Fudaten Shrine. The shrine is regarded as a ‘power spot’ not many people know. During the period of ‘examination hell’ in winter, students and their families flock to this shrine to pray for success in exams. The shrine’s biography says it was established in 1940. The name of the city Chofu was named after this historic shrine.
The atmosphere changes as soon as we enter the shrine! We don’t usually care about spiritual stuff, but this shrine is so awe-inspiring, we can’t but feel the solemn atmosphere.
This Fudaten Shrine is significant historically and spiritually, but it’s also known as Kitaro’s place among anime lovers. In the manga ‘Hakaba Kitaro (Kitaro in the Graveyard)’, his house is located in the woods at the back of a shrine. I assume the creator Shigeru Mizuki felt the shrine’s great power too.
While praying, we are luckily given Tekka-en, the salt that has been offered to the god.
It’s a lucky coincidence that we’ve got such gracious gift while praying! On top of that, my girlfriend draws a ‘GeGeGe no Kitaro Fortune’ (which is probably only available at this shrine) and gets Daikichi, the best fortune! Wow! This must be the sign of good luck! She’ll take it home, without tying it onto the tree as others do.
As the shrine is considered to be a ‘power spot’, just being there is enough to feel the power; but many visitors try to get the power more directly from a cow statue called ‘Omiushi’ by petting it. As it’s petted so many times, the nose has been polished!
Jindai Botanical Garden, Home to Power of Greenery, Is Another Power Spot’.
After getting lots of power at the Fudaten Shrine, we head to Jindai Botanical Garden. Various kinds of greenery are carefully grown here, which fills the place with power and energy! Thus, this garden can be another power spot! Hope we can enjoy the place though it’s raining today.
From Fudaten Shrine, we go back to the Chofu Station North Exit and take the bus bound for Jindai Botanical Garden. As the garden is located at the back of the Jindaiji Temple, the bus comes very often and you don’t need to wait long.
When we are heading to the Rose Garden, a volunteer staff suggests that we visit Dahlia Garden first as the flowers are at their best now! Yeah, she is right. The dahlias are in full bloom!
A wide variety of dahlias are at their best! Again, we feel so lucky to see such fresh flowers beautifully blooming in the blessed rain. The place is worth visiting even on such a rainy day!
And we feel like taking pictures of them. Seems like others feel the same as we do, because many people have big cameras with them even though it’s raining!
The same goes for the Rose Garden. It’s amazing this many people are visiting the garden! They are trying to find the best photo spots for roses and take pictures of them.
We can enjoy the soothing scent of roses when we are close to them. This is the natural fragrance! The scent totally differs depending on the types of roses. Also, not all roses smell good! Some roses are known for their good scents, and others are for their beautiful appearances. We are glad to feel the liveliness of flowers!
The botanical garden has another gate called Jindaiji Gate, which is the shortcut to the Jindaiji Temple. Beyond the gate is back of the Jindaiji Temple.
Take a minute walk from the Jindaiji Gate, and you will find Inui Gate, a back gate of Jindaiji Temple. Today we make a detour to the main gate.
Kitaro Chaya Is a Must-See Spot around Jindaiji Temple!
Now let’s get power from Yokai Monsters! The teahouse Kitaro Chaya is located in Chofu, where the creator of GeGeGe no Kitaro Shigeru Mizuki lives. It’s a mecca for Kitaro lovers and fans of the creator, but even if you are not a big fan of them, you shouldn’t miss the teahouse!
Kitaro is wearing this costume as Halloween is coming up soon. The street is actually the approach to the temple, but it doesn’t look like that at all.
The teahouse has some illustrations by Shigeru Mizuki. His fans will love them for sure!
We eat something with the character ‘Nezumi-Otoko’(rat man), sitting on a chair featuring ‘Nurikabe’ (ghostly wall yokai). The things we order are ‘Jako Croquette’ (jako means baby sardines), ‘Nurikabe Dengaku’, and caffe latte uniquely named ‘GeGeGeLatte’. Everything tastes good, and it’s all Kitaro-themed food. That’s interesting!
I love this ‘Ittan-momen’ (a flying yokai) featured scarf! Wearing this scarf, you’ll feel like being Kitaro! Why don’t you get one for Halloween?
Let’s Get Good Fortune at Jindaiji Temple, a Great ‘Power Spot’ in Chofu!
The principal images called Amida-Sanzon Statues are in the main hall. Jindaiji Temple is Tokyo’s second oldest temple after Sensoji, and it was once used as a filming location for a Japanese TV drama. The temple is also known for matchmaking.
Autumn deepens every time it rains, and we can feel the autumn by seeing the leaves changing colors. In the back of the tree with colored leaves is a rare tree called ‘Nanjamonja’. Its flowers are at their best in April. Thus, the temple looks so different in each season, which is wonderful!
This picture shows what ‘Jindaiji Daruma-ichi’ (Daruma Doll Fair) is like. In Tokyo, several Daruma-ichi Fairs are held, but this one in Jindaiji, which is annually held on March 3rd, is the latest of them all. Inside the temple is crowded with visitors and Daruma dolls!
Pottery Experience at Musashino Jindaiji Kiln in front of the Gate!
Established in 1957, the pottery studio Musashino Jindaiji Kiln has seen how things have changed around the area. This area used to be a forest, according to the staff. Let’s enjoy pottery experience and create your masterpiece at such a historic pottery studio.
They offer several courses: ‘Rakuyaki’, an easy painting course in which you can take your work home (200 yen and more), ‘Honyaki’, in which pottery is well-fired and then delivered to you later (300 yen and more), and ‘Tebineri’ (2000 yen and more) in which you can make your masterpiece by kneading clay and hand molding. I’ll choose Rakuyaki course today.
Choose a piece of unglazed pottery to paint from more than 100 kinds. A popular one is a chopstick rest, which is less expensive and easy to decorate. A family is making their kids’ records of growth, by decorating a flat plate with their handprints and footprints, as well as their unique painting. During a summer vacation, the studio gets so busy with kids who make pottery as a summer research project.
We are excited to see the lineup of the paintbrushes. Let’s get started!
I’ve started decorating the pottery, thinking of the earthenware daruma bells I’ve seen in the temple. You can start painting without any difficulty once you read the guidebook placed on the table. Some colors look different after the pottery is fired, the guidebook says. You can decorate anyway you want it, as the staff doesn’t give you help.
This is far from what I expected, but using paintbrushes is so much fun, which I’ve never done before. Both of us feel like an artist, focusing on painting without even talking to each other. Firing pottery takes about 20 minutes. You can wait here until it’s done, but we’ve decided to eat something in Jindaiji and come back later to pick up our works.
This is when the firing is done. The surface looks shinier and smoother than expected, after going through the process of soaking the pottery in glass paint before firing. This has become my one and only souvenir!
Try Famous Jindaiji Soba Noodles at Yusui.
There are about 20 soba restaurants around the gates of Jindaiji Temple, most of which look long established. This is because the area has been blessed with abundant natural spring water, which has been used to make delicious soba since old days. Here, the question is which restaurant we should try. After searching for the keywords ‘Jindaiji’ and ‘soba’ on Google, we’ve decided to try Yusui, which appears at the top results. I’m sure we can enjoy superb soba noodles at this restaurant!
Even though the lunchtime is over and it’s a rainy day, the place is already full, and more and more customers are coming in! I think we’ve come to the right place!
We’ll have their special, ‘Yusui Ten-mori. (soba noodles with assorted tempura) Their soba (made from ninety percent buckwheat flour and ten percent wheat flour) is handmade here at the restaurant. The noodles have less strong smell, but they go down the throat smoothly. The freshly made tempura is crispy, too. This would be a nice soba special for a formal occasion!
Their carefully made tempura consists of shrimp, green perilla, green pepper, ‘mitsuba’ (Japanese parsley) and eggplant. The light and crispy tempura is so irresistible! Their Soba-tsuyu dipping sauce has a strong taste of soy sauce. Soba-yu, hot water the noodles are boiled in, is usually served after we eat soba, but it comes with soba at this restaurant. (Which is no problem as their tasty soba can be gone in no time!)
Finally, Get Power from Magma at Yumori no Sato, a Natural Hot Spring.
Today’s last visiting spot is Yumori no Sato, a little-known hot spring located at a place you’ve never imagined.
My google maps application suggests such a small alley as a route to the hot spring.
The hot spring stands quietly in the residential area…
The dimly-lit interior offers a truly relaxing atmosphere. The type of water is Kuroyu (alkaline water), and it makes skin feel smooth. This little-known great spot has only a few visitors. Unlimited hot water flows directly from the hot spring source. We’ve found such a nice place! The water temperature is low, so we can stay in the bath as long as you want. On top of that, they offer free shuttle bus service to the Chofu Station!
Everyone is feeling at home at the lounge.
What? The Bus is Not Bound for Chofu Station? Today’s Date Ends Up at Musashi-Sakai Station.
When we are leaving the place, we find a bus waiting outside! What a coincidence! We jump on it, feeling lucky. Being tired and relaxed, and thanks to the subtle vibration of the bus, we start dozing off immediately. Then we wake up to find we are taken to a wrong station! That is, Chofu is not the only destination of their shuttle buses!
Some of their shuttle buses are bound for Musashi-Sakai (JR Chuo-Line). Awakened by the bus driver saying ‘Here we are’, we burst into laughter to find it's a wrong station! After visiting several lucky ‘power spots’ today, we can’t help thinking that Musashi-Sakai must be our next date destination! That’s all for today.