Chofu City in Tokyo's far west is an unremarkable city that possesses a few remarkably beautiful spots that can make the trip out there worthwhile, in particular its broad, kempt, variegated Jindai Botanical Garden.
The bland, department-store-dominated center of Chofu has - to put it charitably - seen better days, but gives way just north of the Hiroba-guchi exit of Chofu Station on the Keio Line to the somewhat dilapidated, but at least characterful, Tenjin Street, with its grocers, down-to-earth traditional-style eateries, and assortment of other mom-and-pop stores.
Directions: Turn right at "Chofu Station North Gate" [調布駅北口] intersection, go about 20 meters, and Tenjin-dori Street starts on your left.
One sightseeing highlight of Tenjin-dori Street are its streetside figurines from the classic GeGeGe no Kitaro manga series, placed at intervals. Their creator, Shigeru Mura (1922-2015), lived most of his life in Chofu City.
(GeGeGe no Kitaro manhole covers that colorfully preserve the manga series' legacy can be seen on Dentsudai-dori, the street running parallel to and just west of Tenjin-dori (from "Chofu Station North Gate" [調布駅北口] to "Chofu Station Entrance" [調布駅入口] intersections). These bold pavement decorations bear messages enjoining good behavior in public.)
The tiny Fushimi Inari Tenjin shrine after which the street is named is Tenjin-dori's most memorable and photogenic spot.
Tenjin-dori crosses National Route 20, continuing on the other side about another 150 meters up to Fudatenjin Shrine.
On the way you will see the gate of Taishoji Temple, a Shingi-Shingon (Reformed Shingon) Buddhist temple, on your right, created by the amalgamation of three temples in 1915. Taishoji is distinguished mainly by its charming gate. Taishoji hours: 8am - 4pm.
Fudatenjin Shrine 布田天神
Fudatenjin Shrine is a Shinto Shrine at the end of Tenjin-dori Avenue, about 150 meters on from Route 20.
Fudatenjin Shrine's roots are said to go back to the 10th century, and it has been at its present site since the 15th century. Check out the wooden notice board that remains from the days of the Shogunate and the ancient stone komainu lion dog statues, as well as the big stroking ox (nadeushi). The grand sprawling trees that surround the shrine buildings add a touch of mystique. The broad, wooded precinct of Fudatenjin Shrine adjoins, and accesses, the adjacent University of Electro-Communications (Denki Tsuushin Daigaku).
Fudatenjin is famous for its market day on the 25th of the month.
Jindaiji Temple 深大寺
Jindaiji Temple is about 20 minutes walk north from Fudatenjin. (See access from Fudatenjin to Jindaiji Temple and Jindai Botanical Gardens for how to take the bus.) Jindaiji Temple was founded in 733 A.D., making it the next oldest temple in metropolitan Tokyo after Sensoji Temple in Asakusa.
Jindaiji is also one of Tokyo's most beautiful temples, thanks to its gracefully landscaped compound with stone paths, big, well-tended trees and gardens, and some lovely temple building architecture, including one building with a rare, thatched roof. This is enhanced by the spacious cemetery next to the temple with beautiful grassy groves and stone lanterns, as well as, not least, by a small picturesque street that extends from the main, outer gate of the temple - a shaded, characterful avenue lined with venerable stores selling souvenirs and good, quick, traditional food - most famously, soba noodles - to temple visitors. Read more about Jindaiji Temple.
Jindaiji Pet Cemetery is one of a few pet cemeteries operated by Buddhist temples in Tokyo, and is marked by a several meter high stone stupa.
Jindai Botanical Garden 神代植物公園
Jindai Botanical Garden is the undisputed sightseeing star of Chofu City. It is immediately to the north of Jindai Temple. (Note that the kanji for the Jindai are different.) Jindai Botanical Garden is over 42 hectares (105 acres) of exquisitely landscaped areas of flora, each of the thirty areas featuring a single kind of plant. The Garden is planted so as to provide visitors with blooming trees, shrubs and flowers all year round.
Highlights of Jindai Botanical Gardens are the Rose Garden (late May and mid October), the 280 varieties of azalea near the Main Gate, the massive lawn with its clump of giant pampas grass in the center, the plum grove at the far edge of the lawn from the entrance with its 72 varieties of both early and late flowering plum (late January to early April), the sakura cherry trees throughout the garden, especially those just west of the rose garden, and the old forest that preserves some of the trees that flourished on the surrounding Musashino Plain prior to urbanization.
Jindai Botanical Garden hours: 9:30am - 5 pm (last entry 4pm). Closed Monday (except when Monday is a national holiday, when the Gardens are open, but close the next day). Closed December 29 - January 1. Admission: 500 yen for adults, 250 yen for children.
Read more about Jindai Botanical Garden.
Ajinomoto Stadium is a 49,970-seat stadium located two stations west of Chofu station, and is the home field for two J-League football teams: F.C.Tokyo and Tokyo Verdy. Ajinomoto Stadium features green initiatives such as solar panels, wind power and greened stadium walls. Besides sporting events, the stadium hosts events such as concerts and flea markets. Alongside Ajinomoto Stadium is the 3,060-seat Aminovital Field primarily for American football, lacrosse, and soccer, and the West Field with about 800 seats, mainly for track and field. Access from Tobitakyu Station on the Keio Line.
The area around Ajinomoto Stadium has a lot of parks and sports facilities.
Chofu Airport (ICAO code: RTJF) is a small airport (very near Ajinomoto Stadium) run by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Bureau of Ports and Harbors, and serving mainly the New Central Air Service that operates flights to the southern islands of Tokyo.
The following buses go all the way to Chofu Airport. They are marked 調布飛行場行 (chofu hikojo yuki, i.e., "To Chofu Airport"). (Several buses drop you off at a bus stop 15 minutes walk from the airport, but the following buses take you all the way there.)
-Odakyu bus from North Exit of Chofu Station (15 min.)
-Odakyu bus from Mitaka Station (very few per day)
Access to Chofu
Chofu Station is on the Keio Line, which starts at Shinjuku. From Shinjuku to Chofu takes about 15 minutes on a limited express train.
Getting from Fudatenjin Shrine to Jindai Botanical Gardens and Jindaiji Temple
From Fudatenjin Shrine to Jindaiji Temple is about a kilometer, so is easily walkable, but via small, randomly routed roads, meaning you could get lost if you don't have map access. To go from Fudatenjin Shrine to Jindaiji Temple by bus, go from Fudatenjin Shrine back down to the main Koshudaido Road (Route 20), go left and walk about 8 minutes to the second set of traffic lights, an intersection called Shimofuda (下布田), turn left and walk about 450 meters to Yagumodai Shogakko (八雲台小学校) bus stop (across from where the Yagumodai Elementary School grounds end). A Keio bus no.34 comes about every 15 minutes. It is 8 stops to Jindai Botanical Gardens and another 2 stops to Jindaiji Temple.