Tokyo neighborhood exudes European charm

Tokyo neighborhood exudes European charm

by Mari Krueger
Stripes Kanto Archives

Downtown Tokyo can be intimidating. But if you’re craving a little Old World charm try planning a day trip around Ebisu Station. There is much there to entertain everyone from kids to beer enthusiasts and budding photographers.

Take East Japan Railway’s (JR) Yamanote Line one stop from Ebisu to Meguro Station and walk downhill for about 10 minutes for a gross museum the kids will love. Meguro Parasitological Museum is free and offers details on every nasty parasite you never wanted to know about.

While the museum challenges visitors to “think about parasites without fear,” it may also challenge you to do so without nausea.

On the other side of Meguro Station is Shizen Kyoiku-en, or the National Institute for Nature Study, which features Tokyo-area flora. Nearby is the Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Art Museum, which is surrounded by lovely Japanese and English gardens. There’s also a chic café nearby.

Let the symmetrical English gardens whet your appetite for all things European, then hop back on the train to Ebisu Station.

Above street level, a moving skywalk will take you directly from Ebisu Station to Yebisu Garden Place. This is the closest you will come to Versailles, France in Japan. Trees line a sloping walkway that leads to a beautiful covered plaza surrounded by all things wonderful: fountains, cafes, shops, beer and museums.

This is the place to sip coffee or tea while watching the leaves change colors. Or come for the Baccarat Eternal Lights illumination from mid November through Christmas for a dazzling display of twinkling lights, ornamented trees and a crystal chandelier.

Facing the palatial building at the far end of Garden Place, which houses an upscale French restaurant, the Beer Museum Yebisu is through the breezeway to your left. Stroll through exhibits recounting the history of beer in Japan, browse vintage beer labels and camp out in the tasting lounge for an inexpensive beer sampler.

This area of Tokyo grew up around the Yebisu factory. In fact, the name “Ebisu” comes from the old word “Yebisu.” After enjoying some brew, cross Garden Place and enjoy the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, which features Japanese and international exhibits and artsy films (sadly, only in Japanese).

If the European atmosphere of Garden Place gets you craving high tea cross the street to The Westin Tokyo hotel for an unforgettable tea experience. The lobby is lovely for a sip, or head for the skies to the lofty The Terrace restaurant. If it’s too late for tea, don’t fret; stay for drinks and enjoy the views of Tokyo Tower and beyond.

For more strolling through a low-key but stylish neighborhood awash in fashionable shops and cafes, spend some time just north of Ebisu Station in the sophisticated Daikanyama neighborhood. You will not regret it.

In addition to the Yamanote Line, Ebisu Station is accessible by the JR Saikyo Line, Tokyo Metro’s Hibiya Line and is just 22 minutes from Yokohama on the JR Shonan Shinjuku Line.

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