Tuesday, September 25, 2007

45. Park Review: Senzokuike (Ota-ku)

Senzokuike is one of those little Tokyo gems that I had never heard about, instead I just stumbled upon it. 'Ike' means pond, and Senzokuike is a lovely pond in Ota-ku, right near the borders of Setagaya, Meguro, and Shinagawa Wards.
A shaded walking path surrounds the pond. Along the way there is a playground for kids, a library, a restaurant overlooking the water, swan and row boats for rent, picnic tables, boardwalks over the water, a temple, and a shrine. There is also lots and lots of green, and no tall buildings will remind you that you are actually still in Tokyo.
I was lucky enough to find Senzokuike during the annual festival of Senzokuike Hachimangu Shrine, which was September 8th and 9th. Jindai-kagura (a sacred dance) was performed from 7pm on the 8th.
On the 9th, the shrine's mikoshi (portable shrines) were paraded around the local neighborhood from 8:30am, and returned to the shrine around 7pm. Kasai-bayashi (festival music) was also played on the 9th, from 2pm. 60 open-air food and game stalls were set up on both days.
I was able to enjoy the music and the open-air stalls. Most of the people at the festival were locals, and the atmosphere was very friendly.
Visiting Senzokuike during the festival is certainly best, but I recommend going anytime you just need a bit of nature, but don't have time to visit the countryside. Walk the circumference of the lake, have lunch on a deck overlooking the pond, and explore a bit in a paddle boat. An inexpensive and enjoyable way to spend a day in Tokyo.

Address: Minami Senzoku, Ota-ku.
5-min. walk from Senzokuike Station on the Tokyu Ikegami Line.

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