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Why Jindaiji Temple is special ?
Jindaiji is the second oldest temple in Tokyo, originally built in 733. If you want to avoid the touristy feeling of Sensoji, Tokyo’s oldest, this is the place to come. Jindai was a village until 1952, and the streets around the temple retain much of this backwater feeling. There’s even a watermill, which is still turned by the small stream that meanders through the area. This mill used to grind the buckwheat flour that makes the soba noodles Jindai is famous for.
Soba and Tokyo’s second oldest temple are two very good reasons for visiting the area, and while the restaurant Yusui is arguably the most popular soba restaurant around here, be warned that it also has the longest lines.
What to explore at Jindaiji Temple?
The area’s reputation for soba has not been built on the back of one restaurant alone, so I opted for Taishi Chaya, a few meters along the road. We had to wait for about five minutes before being shown to an indoor table, where we sat on zabuton cushions and tatami mats, and ate at a low table. The décor of the restaurant helps you get a sense of the past. It’s all wood and traditional-looking shoji screens. Eating fresh, hand-made noodles whilst looking through the window into the leafy garden, I was transported back in time to at least the Edo period. I was a traveler, a merchant, a local. And after a few minutes I was full.
A visit to Jindaiji is all about atmosphere. The temple is surrounded by an abundance of nature and a complete lack of concrete buildings. Crayfish and water skaters can be found in the small streams, and you’ll find koi carp and turtles in the various ponds in the temple grounds. Before you leave, be sure to buy some sembei (rice crackers) or fugashi (dried wheat gluten snack) from the wooden shops that look like they’ve been there forever.
Jindaiji is free, and it’s one of the best kept secrets from foreign travelers to Tokyo. So why not put that guidebook down for a day and get off the beaten track?
How to get to Jindaiji Temple?
An alternative to taking the train is to take the bus from Kichijoji (number 4, from outside Marui department store) or Mitaka (number 52, from the south side of the station).
- Travel back in time
- Jindaiji Temple: Quiet Haven from Tokyo
- Second oldest temple in Tokyo
- Where keeps Japanese History
- Quiet and peaceful, a place pay tribute to all
5-15-1 Jindaijimotomachi, Chofu 182-0017, Tokyo
Tips for you
On the opposite side you can take a short walk up and over a hill in front of the temple towards Jindaiji Onsen (Hot Spring). This is one of the nicest in Tokyo with lovely outdoor bathing pools in lovely gardens. A perfect way to end a day trip. There is then a free shuttle bus from the onsen to another station on the same Chuo line. Be careful though, these free buses are hourly. (StewieTokyo)Things to do
The ancient Jindaiji Temple and the old Edo style village shops surrounding it are within easy reach in the west of Tokyo and just a bus ride from the wonderful Kichijoji. The atmosphere here is really something. Lots of shops selling snack foods made from soba flour with bean paste and other fillings, and soba restaurants showcasing the buckwheat which was traditionally grown in this area. The water quality and soba were prized. The Temple has some beautiful carvings in the entry and a quite delightful timber carved Buddha seated on a pedestal on the front landing. The momiji and ginko trees were coming into their best colours when we visited in November. The paved pathway leading up behind the temple led to a couple of great soba restaurants backing onto the parkland. We chose Matsuba Chaya and had a great lunch of soba with tempura. The pathway had some ladies selling traditional indigo coloured Japanese fabrics and bags and we couldn’t resist buying one on the way back.