Get off the train at Gotanda and walk north from the station about five minutes and you’ll come to this surprisingly serene Tokyo neighborhood. Ikedayama is named after the Ikeda family of Okayama Castle, whose residence was located here during the Edo Period. During the Taisho era (1912-1926), the area was redeveloped as a high-end residential district, and while the architecture has changed a lot since then, Ikedayama is still a popular neighborhood for those who can afford to live here.
Much of Ikedayama is residential, boasting some of Gotanda’s most upmarket dwellings. Large, modern single-residence homes sit on the hillside, interspersed with apartment buildings, most of which have four or five floors at most. This adds to the sense of space offered by streets much wider than most suburban parts of Tokyo. As Ikedayama only has a few access roads and doesn’t offer much of a shortcut between Gotanda to the south and Meguro to the north, there is very little traffic – during the day, the streets are almost silent.
Despite its unassuming appearance, Ikedayama has a few secrets to share. On one street you’ll find the Yakushiji Tokyo Betsuin – a branch temple of Yakushiji Temple in Nara. The Tokyo temple is famous for koudou (香道, the way of incense) – the study and appreciation of incense. Further up the hill you’ll see Nemu no Ki no Niwa (Silk Tree Garden), a small flower garden notable for its variety of roses. Maintained entirely by local volunteers, the garden is another one of the 100 scenic spots of Shinagawa. The garden was established on the site of the house where Empress Michiko, wife to Emperor Akihito, lived as a girl. The garden is named after a poem she wrote when she was in high school, called “Silk Tree Lullaby”.
On the east side of Ikedayama is Hatakeyama Memorial Museum of Fine Art, a museum founded by industrialist Issey Hatakeyama in 1964. Surrounded by a beautifully serene Japanese garden, the museum houses a number of Asian art objects including paintings and ceramics, with a number of items related to Japanese tea ceremony.
If you’re looking for a cheap teishoku (meal set), you might want to stop by the NTT Medical Center’s Tanita Shokudo, a self-service cafeteria with a different meal on offer each day. While you can’t choose your meal on a given day, the healthy lunches will only set you back ¥900.
If you think we’ve left anything out of our look at Ikedayama, be sure to leave a comment below.