What are the first districts that pop into your head when you think of Tokyo (東京)? No doubt famous central locations such as Shibuya (渋谷), Shinjuku (新宿), Roppongi (六本木) and Ikebukuro (池袋) are some of the first that spring to mind. Of course, they are great places to hang out, boasting great restaurants, interesting shops and exciting nightlife.
Tokyo is a monstrously huge city, however, and these central locations aren’t the only spots that you can explore. There are plenty of places with many shops, cafes, restaurants and everything you need without the crowds and tourists. Gakugei Daigaku (学芸大学) in Meguro Ward (目黒区) is one of them.
Gakugei Daigaku, or “Gakudai (学大)” as it’s sometimes called, is four stops away from Shibuya (渋谷), reachable by local train only on the Tokyu Toyoko Line (東急東横線). It is also walking distance (about 15 minutes) from Nakameguro (中目黒).
Gakugei Daigaku actually means “Arts and Crafts University” and used to be the location of Gakugei University, giving the area its namesake. The university relocated to Koganei (小金井) several years ago. Gakugei High School (東京学芸大学付属高等学校), however, is still at Gakugei Daigaku. The university isn’t there anymore, but the name stuck.
You can walk around this small area within just a few hours. Explore the streets and see what exciting places you can find!
Gakugei Daigaku may not appear in tourists’ guidebooks, but it boasts enough shops to keep shopaholics happy for a day. A few shops that you can find within walking distance of the station include ABC Mart (ABCマート), Daiso (ダイソー), Book Off (ブックオフ) and Tsutaya (ツタヤ). There are also plenty of small local stores selling clothes, snacks, bags, and fruit and vegetables at bargain prices.
Gakugei Daigaku has a number of well-known cafes including Doutor Coffee (ドトールコーヒー), Casa Bianca (カーサビアンカ), and Starbucks (スターバックス). If you enjoy karaoke (カラオケ), there are two Cote D’Azur (コート・ダジュール) karaoke shops in town.
This area is also home to many restaurants, both franchise and original. These include Tendon Tenya (天丼てんや), Matsuya (松屋), McDonald’s (マクドナルド), Kentucky Fried Chicken (ケンタッキーフライドチキン) and Coco Ichi Curry House (カレーハウスCoCo壱番屋).
There are also several very nice unique restaurants, offering yakiniku (焼肉), Chinese food, sushi (寿司), and curry. There is also a Baskin and Robbins for those with a sweet tooth!
About five minutes by foot from Gakugei Daigaku Station (学芸大学駅) is a lovely little park. Although small and not very famous, it’s a very sweet place worth visiting; it has flower beds made by local people, a mini petting zoo featuring guinea pigs and rabbits, a sports area and a pony that children can ride for just 200 yen. The park is also home to the Sakura Festival every April. If you are visiting the area as a family with children or you love animals, don’t skip out on this place.
So if you’re wanting to hang out in a city-esque part of Japan but would like to avoid crowds, check out Gakugei Daigaku on your travels! You can relax with coffee, shop for bargain bags and shoes, and eat ice cream while you wander the park and pet animals. Hop on a train and visit this charming district on your next trip to Tokyo!
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