Along the Odakyu line, a few minutes from Shinjuku, you will find the pleasant station of Yoyogi-Uehara. The station was opened by the Odakyu line in 1927. At first sight, it appears to be a quiet and cosy residential area with small shops and greenery. However, the small town is a very lovely place to spend a beautiful day.
Good Town Bakehouse
I started my day with coffee and a doughnut at Good Town Bakehouse, an American-style café located a minute’s walk from the station.
Through the window, the colorful and generous doughnuts looked very appealing! When I entered the cafe, apart from the doughnuts, the atmosphere was very delightful. The interior is trendy and relaxed. It is quite a wonderful and peaceful place to spend quiet time alone with a book, or with friends.
I was surprised to discover that the menu had specific meals and drinks for each time of the day. Apart from doughnuts and sweets, you can also enjoy a variety of original sandwiches and hamburgers (even mini burgers), and a big panel of drinks with real craft beer. There is no doubt that they have something for everyone.
Address: 1-30-1 Uehara, Shibuya-ku
After this sweet start of the day, I decided to visit Tokyo Camii, which is a few minutes’ walk from Good Town Bakehouse. Tokyo Camii is a Turkish mosque that is culturally and architecturally impressive.
Tokyo Camii is in fact New Tokyo Camii, rebuilt in 2000 by Kajima Corporation, one of the main construction companies in Japan, in collaboration with fine works decoration by Turkish masters and artists.
Before you enter the mosque, you have to take off your shoes at the entrance. Both men and women are expected to wear modest clothes. Women are expected to put on some ankle length, lose fitting, non-translucent skirts or trousers, together with a long sleeved, high-necked top. Likewise, men should not wear short pants. A headscarf is essential for women. The good thing is, you can borrow some scarfs and long skirts at the entrance to the mosque.*
Taking pictures during prayers is forbidden. You can do so before and after with permission from the office. You can check the prayer time directly on the Tokyo Camii website.
The mosque has an amazing and luminous interior, elegantly decorated in blue, green, red and gold tones. The dome has fine and admirable ornaments. The filtering light through the colorfully stained glass window creates a harmonious and spiritual atmosphere. The entire building is a wonderful piece of art. It was great pleasure visiting the place.
After the visit, there is a space on the ground floor where you can have some traditional tea or coffee and buy some souvenirs.
After Tokyo Camii, I decided to do some shopping on my way.
First, I found a beautiful store of Japanese “omiyage” (souvenirs) called Kokkoma, with many traditional Japanese handicrafts such as dishes, ceramics, postcards, bonsai, bags and a variety of other decorative objects. The sense of unity and the cozy atmosphere makes the store very pleasant.
The price range is very large, so you can find very cute things at very low prices, as well as more delicate and pricey souvenirs. I definitely recommend Kokkoma for its interior and for its variety of nice gifts.
Website (Japanese only): http://www.kokkoma.jp/
Address: 1-33-17 Uehara, Shibuya-ku
Then, being a natural and organic lover I decided to visit Gaia, a 3-minute walk from Kokkoma.
There are two Gaia stores:
One is specialized in organic and macrobiotic alimentation. Here, you can find fresh food such as vegetables and condiments, organic wine, dry foods and cereals, and some sweets from Japan and overseas.
The other store is specialized in organic cotton clothes and natural and organic cosmetics. Here, you can also find products from Japan and abroad. It’s the store’s ethic to offer safe and healthy products.
Website (Japanese only): http://gaiashop.net/category/yoyogi
Address: 3-23-6 Nishihara, Shibuya-ku
To refresh after shopping and enjoy Japanese cultural heritage, I visited Daikoku-yu, a bathhouse (called sento in Japanese) located in the heart of Yoyogi-uehara since 1975.
As soon as you get through the entrance, you feel transported to the era of late-Showa Tokyo. Old pictures with celebrity autographs line the walls from the entrance to the locker rooms. The place is all decorated with objects and souvenirs collected by the owner.
In the bath room, you can admire beautiful mosaic fresco tiles representing European landscapes, and the men’s shower space wall depicts Kinkakuji, the famous “Golden Pavilion” temple in Kyoto. The women’s side is decorated with a view of Nikko. Exploring Daikoku-yu is like entering a museum.
There are many baths to enjoy in Daikoku-yu, such as a massage bath, a steam bath, an electric bath, a cold bath and a sauna.
Some advice for enjoying sento:
- You can bring some bath items like a towel, soap/body wash, shampoo etc. But it’s not a problem if you go empty-handed (tebura in Japanese). You can rent or buy everything you need at the front desk for a small fee.
- You have to take off your shoes at the entrance of the sento and put them in the shoe lockers, before paying the bathing fee at the front desk. Bathhouses in Tokyo all have the unique price of 460 yen (use of the sauna requires an extra fee). You will need to remove your clothes in the changing room before entering the bathing area. Take your small towel with you to dry yourself before going back to the changing room after your bath, in order to keep the changing room clean and avoid making the floor slippery.
- It’s good to tie up your hair if it’s long (if you forget to bring a hair band, you can usually improvise using the bracelet attached to your locker key).
- Carefully wash yourself in the shower space before entering the bath.
Never put your small towel into the bath.
- If you use the sauna, rinse your body in the shower space before entering the bath again.
- Don’t hesitate to talk with people! The public bath is a space to share. People are very nice and you can easily communicate (even with some gestures if you can’t speak Japanese).
Website (Japanese only): http://spa-tokyo.net/z-t-yoyogi-daikokuyu/index.html
Address: 3-24-5 Nishihara, Shibuya-ku
Botanical Table Offf
After an amazingly relaxing bath, a few steps from Daikoku-yu I caught up with friends for dinner in the charming Botanical Table Offf.
Botanical Table Offf is welcoming with a cozy and pleasant atmosphere. It is a great place to spend some relaxing time on a date or with friends. Organic food and greenery lovers will love it.
We started with a Hokkaido organic red wine. It was delicious and paired well with the food. We tried many dishes, including herb fried chicken, the daily catch, the herb grilled potatoes, grilled vegetables and Caesar salad. All were very tasty. Though everybody was full, we still tried the dessert menu since they looked so good. The sweets were delightful as well. Everybody had a great time.
One of my friends is vegetarian and it was not a problem at all, thanks to the various vegetable dishes on the menu.
Instagram account: https://www.instagram.com/offf_tokyo/
Address: 3-25-4 Nishihara, Shibuya-ku