Tucked away in one of the residential districts in the southwestern part of Tokyo is Todoroki Ravine Park. Todoroki is a quiet neighbourhood with relatively modern architecture. It fits right into the picture of an urban city, with planes and contours of buildings, roads, and train tracks. However, a hidden enclave of greenery lies within it.
A 10-minute walk from the station, Todoroki Ravine Park (等々力渓谷公園) may easily be missed. It is hidden from view from the main street, and may only be discovered upon taking a turn down a flight of cobblestone stairs that lead to a river. That said, there are still signs that clearly indicate directions to the park. The river Yazawagawa (谷沢川) runs through the heart of the park and merges with the Tamagawa river further south.
A cacophony of the soothing sounds of a flowing stream and birds and insects along with the earthy smell of nature stimulate the senses upon entering the park. Walk on the wooden boardwalk platform along the river joins on to a path that leads to Setsugekka (雪月花), a Japanese-style dessert and snack café. It sits right behind the big temple Manganji (満願寺), and is a perfect spot for a rest after circling around the park. It is flanked by guardian lion stone statues, which face a mini waterfall over a bridge. The waterfall used to have dragons as pipe heads, but they have been worn down by the water stream and overgrown with moss.
Walking further down the concrete path along the river, we spotted a bamboo grove on the right. It turned out to be a garden that was part of the park! There were mikan trees and various flower bushes, as well as a Japanese garden. On the main street back to the station, there is also a Japanese confectionery shop that sells various sweets (or okashi お菓子) such as dango, sakuramochi and manju that looked almost too pretty to be eaten.
It was a pleasant surprise to find such a nice patch of nature in the middle of the city. Getting a little whiff of nature and its beauty more than once in a while works wonders for hardened city dwellers!