Off the Beaten Dori: Discovering Kitaro at Chofu (Tokyo)


Coming from Yokohama to Chofu (Tokyo) is not an easy trip. With multiple local train changes and my unfamiliarity with non-JR train lines proven not beneficial but despite the hassle associated with traveling, discovering a quiet, more relax area of Tokyo is always a well spent weekend than visiting same crowded place all over again.

Located at the western side of Tokyo, Chofu is another commuter town, a suburb mix of residential buildings, shops and parks, where to reach certain places in the town requires you to be familiar with bus numbers and bus stops.

Arriving at 2 in the afternoon, I have limited time to explore the area of Chofu before all the shops closes for the day. Luckily, the best place to visit is concentrated in one spot only- the surrounding area at Jindaiji Temple.

After 30 minutes and on-board bus no. 34 from Chofu Station, I arrived at Jindaiji Temple bus stop. The first thing that I notice is a small building on the left-side adorned with everything related to one of the country’s most loved yōkai (supernatural character) Kitaro, a boy missing his left eye and the empty eye socket is covered with his hair, from the manga series “Gegege no Kitaro” .
chofu(tokyo)

With a weapon of a remote control geta sandals and a sidekick named Nezumi Otoko, who has never taken a bath for three hundred and sixty years, though I am not familiar with the series, I have to say Kitaro is one strangely cute yōkai.
chofu(tokyo)

The building that houses all manga related novelty souvenir is called Kitaro Chaya (Kitaro Tea House). This is the first time that I have seen the character across Japan, though not sure in details about the connection with Chofu or Jindaiji Temple apart from some of the scenes were based in the area.
chofu(tokyo)
chofu(tokyo)

Jindaiji Temple is considered as the second oldest temple in Tokyo. Constructed in 733, the temple ground is huge with several small temples and gates mainly constructed with wood material.
chofu(tokyo)
chofu(tokyo)
chofu(tokyo)
chofu(tokyo)
chofu(tokyo)
chofu(tokyo)

On a separate newly built concrete building is a highly valued Buddha bronze statue from the same era.
chofu(tokyo)

At the back, of the temple is a pet crematorium/cemetery. With a 30 meters high concrete tower named Banrei To (Tower of All Souls) erected in 1962, the cemetery is one of the oldest in Japan and visiting the place is kind of sentimental reminder on the contribution of the beloved pets on our everyday lives.
chofu(tokyo)
chofu(tokyo)

The alleyways leading and around the temple is populated with souvenir shops and restaurants, constructed with an atmosphere of so called Edo-Period style. Unlike Nakamise Dori of Asakusa, you can leisurely stroll the area of Jindaiji Temple without having to squeeze your way to a shop, one of the many advantages why I like on visiting off the beaten dori.
chofu(tokyo)
chofu(tokyo)
chofu(tokyo)
chofu(tokyo)

From window charms, daruma dolls to stalls line up with omiyage (souvenir) snacks and food, it is better to arrive at Chofu with an empty stomach particularly if you love soba.
chofu(tokyo)
chofu(tokyo)
chofu(tokyo)
chofu(tokyo)

The locations of some restaurants are quite charming, it’s hard to resist the temptation of not going in even for a coffee or a tea.
chofu(tokyo)
chofu(tokyo)

Close to both pet cemetery and the back entrance of Jindai Botanical Gardens are row of restaurants serving freshly made soba.
chofu(tokyo)
chofu(tokyo)
chofu(tokyo)

With my late start and limited time, I wasn’t able to enter the Jindai Botanical Garden, so I settle on admiring the bloom from the flower shops.
chofu(tokyo)

Besides Yanaka, I will suggest to anyone visiting Tokyo to spend a day at Chofu.
By the way, I have to to put Chofu (Tokyo) to distinguished with Chofu of Yamaguchi, Nagano.

23 thoughts on “Off the Beaten Dori: Discovering Kitaro at Chofu (Tokyo)

  1. You know, I love your blog so much. I’ve always, ever since I was a young kid with some Korean friends, had a fascination with East-Asian cultures. Thanks for taking me on a little journey throughout Japan and elsewhere with your posts. Your blog is quite the little treasure on the web.

    1. Hi Scotty,

      Thank you very very much for your inspiring words! Reading your comments made my day and gave me the much needed doze of encouragement these days. Words not enough to express how I appreciate your words 🙂
      If you have any chance, you should visit us here. For sure you will have a memorable time.

  2. Oh, it’s sooo beautiful..
    Seems like i have to put it on my itinerary.. But i don’t have much time.. And I hate you! 😆
    Thanks for nice sharing and fascinating photos.. 🙂

    1. don’t hate me 🙂
      can come always come back to Japan! i think a week, a month , even a year are not enough to explore and visit everything.
      as what the government tourism slogan suggests “Japan, Endless Discovery”

      1. Japan is endless discovery.. Agree!!
        I’d love to visit Japan, as much as possible.. but it spends a lot of money..
        I save money for almost a year to get there.. Visit Japan is my childhood dream..
        You’re so lucky, have a job and live in a amazing country..
        Keep exploring and sharing with us.. 😉
        Can’t wait for your next destination.. 🙂

    1. hi, thank you very much! for the earlier blog entries including this post i used olympus epl2 and for the recent one i used fujifilm x20.

      nowadays compact camera and micro four thirds type produce excellent photos and most importantly they are light weight so good for travelling. you may want to consider as an option.

      have a great day!

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