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The best photo guide for Todoroki Valley

Todoroki Valley is a small piece of nature in Tokyo.  It offers a nice walk and negative ion air for your wellness.  You won’t spend all day there, but it will recharge you.  Best of all, it’s only a twenty-minute train ride from Shibuya.  It is also a pretty place for photos too!

Buddhist statues in Todoroki Valley

Compare that with Mount Takao, another popular destination in Tokyo.  It offers excellent mountain views, especially of Fuji.  But getting there will take about an hour.  Then you’ll need to hike (or take a cable car) to the top of the mountain with 1000s of other people.  That mightn’t do anything to refresh your mental batteries.  It can leave you feeling exhausted.

girl walking on wooden bridge over Yazawa River in Todoroki Valley

So the next best thing is Setagaya ward’s Todoroki Valley.  To be honest, I wouldn’t call it an actual valley.  Well, if it is, it is a tiny one.  It isn’t very deep.  You can see houses a few tens of meters away.

The entrance is only a two-minute walk from the station.  Be careful on your way down.  They are a little steep.  Once down, you’ll notice the quietness quickly.  The trees block out many of the outside noises.  And when I say “quietness,” maybe I exaggerate a little.  There are some bridges with roads over Todoroki,  You will hear some traffic, but it isn’t so bad. Muted might be a better expression.

Along the valley floor, you walk along the Yazawa River.  The trees and water will give you lots of negative ions to enjoy the 1.2-kilometer walk.  That should put a spark back in your day. 

small shrine in Todoroki Valley

The river is small.  After a rain, though, it can get noisy as water rushes through.  If you have a tripod, it can be good for long-exposure photographs.

Towards the valley’s end is a small shrine.  It and several statues are next to a rockface with a waterfall.  Monks use it for ascetic training.  It is a photogenic place and very photo-worthy!  

Dragonhead spout

The rest of the walk along Todoroki is peaceful and quiet.  You’ll see locals there for walks and when they need to go to the station.  Luckily, it’s rarely crowded.  If you need further mental recharging, have a cup of tea at the cafe.  You could also wander through the bamboo grove or Japanese garden.

A temple is up a steep staircase at the valley’s far end.  This one is Todoroki Fudoson, with a history dating back to the Heian period.  Poke around and see what you can find with your camera.  The dragon head water spouts at washbasins are particularly interesting.

Todoroki Valley bamboo grove

One more thing.  There are some trails up the side of the valley.  Climb up to get some height to look over the valley floor.  Also, close to the top, you’ll find tombs dating from between the late Kofun and Nara periods. 

What to photograph in the valley?

  • Lots of Buddhist icons (statues etc.)
  • A temple
  • A river
  • Flowers
  • Ancient burial sites
  • Bamboo grove
  • Japanese garden
stone lanterns in Japanese garden

Photo tips

  • Todoroki can be pretty dark when the sun is near or under the wall.  You might need high ISOs, especially early or late in the day.
  • The river can be good for long exposures, so take a tripod and neutral density filter.
  • You might need a flash or other light source if you want to shoot the valley’s flowers.
  • Autumn might be the best time to visit due to the beautiful leaves.
Todoroki Fudoson temple

Where is Todoroki valley?

Todoroki Valley is in Tokyo’s Setagaya ward.  Most people will get there from Shibuya, so use the Tokyu Toyoko Line and get off at Jiyugaoka. Then use an Oimachi line local train and get off at Todoroki Station.   

Here is a Google map: 

Opening hours

It is open twenty-four hours a day, but I bet it’d be pitch black in Todoroki Valley at night!

Admission costs


A couple of random tips!

  • You`re not allowed to have picnic lunches in the valley.  But, there is a garden area where you can eat (marked on the map), and there is also a small café next to the river.
  • Wear some comfortable shoes, as the paths can be muddy.
  • There are two cafes/snack bars.  One is near the waterfall, and the other is next to Todoroki Fudo Temple.
  • In summer, there are lots of mosquitoes.  Make sure to take your insect repellant.

Wrapping up

I like Todoroki Valley, even in the warmer months, as it is a little cooler than anywhere else in Tokyo.  And it offers something different.  The other good thing is that it isn’t far.  From Shibuya, it is roughly twenty minutes, depending on which trains you use.  The only negatives I could give are that the valley is short.  It’s a nice walk that will put some power back in your mental batteries.  You’ll leave feeling ready to tackle the city again.

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