Situated south of central Tokyo Metropolis, about 20 kilometers from downtown Tokyo, Chofu is a city that has a history that traces back to as early as the Japanese Paleolithic times. During the Edo period, the site of present-day Chofu was a town that served as an important post station, and after Meiji Restoration, it officially became a city.
What To Do In Chofu
Spending a day in Chofu should introduce you to many hidden gems and off-the-beaten-path attractions that are as remarkable as the most popular destinations you often see mentioned in guidebooks and travel blogs.
- Check out the Jindaiji Temple.
Built in 733, the Jindaiji Temple is an ancient Buddhist temple of the Tendai sect that is one of the oldest in Tokyo and its immediate vicinity, second only to the famous Sensoji Temple in Asakusa. It is made up of several temple buildings, surrounded by lush and thriving trees and well-manicured gardens. Leading up to the temple gate, there is a quaint little street lined with traditional Japanese-style food stalls, eateries, and shops that give off that old township vibe.
The temple also houses a bronze Buddha statue called Shaka Nyorai, which is said to have been made around the 8th century.
- Eat delicious soba at the Sanmon Gate soba shops.
Jindaiji Temple’s main gate is called the Sanmon Gate, and it is popular for the soba noodle shops and souvenir stalls right in front of it. For three centuries now, soba is an important part of Jindaiji tradition and culture. Each soba shop handmakes their own soba noodles from local buckwheat flour, and adds a variety of ingredients and seasonings to create their own unique flavors.
For lunch, you should definitely check out these soba shops and get a taste of authentic Japanese soba.
- Stroll around the Jindai Botanical Gardens.
Any time of the year, the Jindai Botanical Gardens have something to offer. It is divided into different areas that grow specific trees and plants. There is a section where you can find cherry blossom trees and plum trees, which should be gorgeous every peak sakura season. There is also an area that features Japanese azaleas and another that has English-style roses, which should be spectacular when the flowers blood from late May to mid October.
Formerly a part of a 16th century fortress, the botanical garden also has a large greenhouse that houses various species of tropical plants, and a lily pond.
- Watch a football game at the Ajinomoto Stadium.
Home of two J-League football teams — the FC Tokyo and the Tokyo Verdy, the Ajinomoto Stadium is a large multi-purpose sporting venue that seats almost 50,000 people. It hosts not only football but also other sports, flea markets, and concerts. For the upcoming 2019 Rugby World Cup, it will host the opening ceremony and the opening match, and for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, it is one of the planned stadiums to host football matches.
It is also well-known for its green initiatives, such as using solar panels and wind power and having greened stadium walls.
- Drop by the Fudatenjin Shrine.
With roots tracing back to the 10th century, the Fudatenjin Shrine is a Shinto shrine located in central Chofu. Its grounds are home to several shrine buildings and lion dog statues, enclosed by different kinds of trees and flowering plants.
Every 25th of the month, it hosts a market day that gives visitors an opportunity to purchase a wide selection of local goods and products.
- Shop for souvenirs at the stores on Tenjin-dori.
Situated in the heart of Chofu, Tenjin-dori or Tenjin Street is lined with small shops and boutiques that sell a large assortment of items you can buy to commemorate your trip to the city. It is also home to many eateries and cafes where you can hang out and take a break for some food and drinks.
On your stroll, you should not miss the figurines and manholes on the sides of the street that are from the classic manga series called GeGeGe no Kitaro, created by Shigeru Mura who lived the majority of his life in the city.
- Experience the world of aerospace technology at the JAXA Headquarters.
Japan’s national aerospace and space agency is known as JAXA, which was established in 2003. It focuses on researching, developing, and launching of satellites into orbit, and many other advanced space missions.
At the JAXA Chofu Aerospace Center, you can access an exhibition area that showcases exhibits of wind tunnels, experimental aircraft and vehicle models, space mission stimulator, and other things that can help pique your interest in space and aviation.
Go to the official website of the JAXA Headquarters|Chofu Aerospace Center to find out more.
How To Get Around Chofu
You can take the bus to get from one tourist spot to another in Chofu. There is a bus station found on the north side of the Chofu train station, and it runs several bus lines that go to Jindaiji Temple, Jindaiji Botanical Gardens, and others.
Taking a taxi is also a good option to explore the city.
How To Get To Chofu
Chofu is served by a railway station called Chofu Station, which operates two lines — the Keio Line, which runs between Shinjuku and Hachioji, and the Keio Sagamihara Line, which runs between Chofu and Hashimoto.
So, for example, if you are somewhere in Tokyo, you can get to Chofu by taking the Keio Line train from Shinjuku Station. A one-way ride takes about 20 minutes, does not require a transfer, and costs 240 yen.
It is also possible to get to Chofu by air, if you are coming from certain southern islands of Tokyo. The Chofu Airport is a small airport that mainly operates New Central Airservice commuter flights that go to and from the Izu Islands of Kozushima, Oshima, Niijima, and Miyakejima. It is also used by other airline companies, such as Tokyo Airlines, Aerotec, Toho Air Service, and Jamco.