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Shinagawa Travel Course

Exploring Shinagawa

The south-central Tokyo district of Shinagawa’s main claim to fame is its major rail station, second only to Tokyo Station itself and offering Shinkansen express and secondary fast train services to a plethora of destinations across the country. The district is also a hub for Western businesses and tourism, boasting European and American-style restaurants and a sizeable hotel zone.

The hotel zone is located in the western Takanawa residential enclave, and the eastern Konan area is given over to industrial and commercial usage. Visitors should exit the station on the side of their destination as the huge mass of rail lines approaching and leaving the complex make it impossible to cross the area on foot. Due to the convenience of their locations, hotel rooms at popular destinations such as the Hotel La Foret Shinagawa and the Shinagawa Prince Hotel sell out fast.

Sights nearby

Due to the nature of the district there are few notable landmarks within walking distance, but the residential area, although slightly hilly, gives a pleasant walk. Historically, the area was once home to the country residences of Tokyo’s feudal lords, and the must-see here is the Sengaku-ji temple, famous as the burial place of the ‘47 Ronin’ of Tokugawa period fame.

- Sengakuji Temple

Set slightly back from a residential street, this small, atmospheric temple holds an important place in Japanese history. The 47 Ronin (masterless samurai) having vowed to take their revenge on the slayer of their feudal lord, killed the murderer, brought his head to the temple and committed seppuku as their code demanded. The temple’s small museum holds wooden images of the ronin, their banner, original letters and the abbot’s receipt for the head of the offender.

- Epson Aqua Stadium

A favourite with family visitors, the Aqua Stadium offers an aquarium holding hundreds of fish species and gives seal and dolphin shows as well as an old-fashioned carousel ride. It’s located just past the easily recognised Price Hotel Executive Tower.

- Hara Contemporary Art Museum

One of the few remaining 1930s houses in Tokyo is home to this interesting museum with its exhibits showing everyday life in pre-WWII Japan. It’s a good place to stop off and rest your feet after a visit to the temple, as there’s a pleasant outdoor/indoor café serving good coffee and snacks.

Eating and drinking and shopping nearby

In and near Shinagawa station itself you’ll find a massive choice of eateries from budget level through mid-range to splurge. For breakfast before a trip to Kamakura for its giant, seated bronze Buddha image, head for the food court beyond the ticket barrier with its affordable full-service choices. Outside the barrier is Japanese fast food at Yoshinoya, several sushi bars, a New York-style eatery and an oyster bar, and in the adjacent hotels are family eateries and upscale restaurants. In the residential areas are local noodle bars and traditional eateries. Apart from the boutiques in the hotels and the few stores and market-style stalls in the station, Shinagawa isn’t by any means a shopping hub, but a fast subway trip brings visitors to Tokyo’s major shopping districts.

Public transport

The Tokaido Shinkansen runs from Shinagawa Station past Mount Fuji, reaching Kyoto in under three hours and heading for the far south of Japan’s main island. Fast trains run to the stunningly beautiful and historic Izu Peninsula and the Tokai region, and Kamakura with its famous outdoor seated Buddha image is under an hour away. For fast access to central Tokyo, the Yamanote and Keihin-Tohoku subway lines are convenient, and the Narita Express stops here on its way to the international airport.

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