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Arriving at Denenchofu Station on the Tokyu Toyoko Line is like entering another world. The architecture, refined cafes and atmosphere strikes you as you leave the beautifully ornate, and slightly grand, station building. You're immediately hit with such a sense of tranquility and harmony that it feels unimaginable that you're standing in one of the largest and most densely populated cities on earth.  

With its patrician ambience and uniform elegance, the small and hushed town of Denenchofu is, unsurprisingly, one of the most popular areas for the expat community in addition to celebrities, business leaders and politicians. Known as Tokyo's "garden suburb," the town located in Ota-ku is always highly ranked as one of the best places to live in the capital. 

It has an interesting history too as it was the brainchild of legendary Japanese industrialist Eiichi Shibusawa early last century and was modelled on the garden suburbs of London. So it's no surprise that Denenchofu has a tangible Britishness to its overall aesthetic and atmosphere. 

Denenchofu has a slate of independently owned businesses and the area, generally, eschews big name chains in favor of local operations which have been established for generations. One such store is Akebono which was established in 1932. It's a wagashi (traditional Japanese sweets) store which has been spoiling the people of Denenchofu for nearly 100 years with its homemade anko and treasure trove of traditional Japanese confectionery. With a deep-seated desire to give back to the local community, Akebono cherishes its position in the town and takes pride in the sweets they craft on the second floor of the space then selling them on the first floor with its subtle and charming wooden interior. Mirroring Japan's appreciation for seasons, Akebono crafts seasonal sweets such as sakura flavor in spring and kuri (chestnut) in autumn. The texture to the sweets and style may also slightly change to be in tune with the seasons which is itself a reflection of Akebono's attention to detail and Japanese culture. The store, although specializing in anko, also sells original sekihan (red bean rice) and snacks such as senbei (rice crackers) from other brands making Akebono a one stop shop for people with a sweet tooth. 

  • Address: 2-51-8, Denenchofu, Ota-ku, Tokyo
  • Access: 1-min walk from Denenchofu Station on the Tokyu Toyoko Line, Tokyu Denentoshi Line
  • Hours: 9:00 - 18:30
  • Closed: Sundays
  • TEL: 3-3721-8886

Another Denenchofu store which caters for sweet lovers is Yamanakaya, a popular fruit store with a dining area. Yamanakaya is very much a family business and is in its third generation with the store history dating back to the early 1930s. Customers come from far and wide to purchase the fresh fruit but also the beautifully prepared desserts on offer. The fruit jelly and fruit punch (a huge bowl of mixed fruit wrapped in syrup) are the biggest sellers and incorporate seasonal fruit which attracts locals and visitors to the area. The store is popular with Japanese celebrities and attracts a lot of foreign foot traffic due to the concentration of international schools and embassies nearby. Co-owner trained at Le Cordon Bleu culinary school in Daikanyama for four years and her intricate work as a patissier is proudly on display at Yamanakaya. Some of her selection of desserts have been handed down by her mother such as the popular yaki ringo which is baked apple with caramel. The fig tart, purin a la mode and fruit sandwiches are also worth the trip alone.

  • Address: 2-50-1, Denenchofu, Ota-ku, Tokyo
  • Access: 1-min walk from Denenchofu Station on the Tokyu Toyoko Line, Tokyu Denentoshi Line
  • Hours 9:30 - 20:00
  • Closed: Wednesdays, Sundays (temporarily)
  • TEL: 03-3721-2766

Although Denenchofu has its fair share of sweet and confectionery stores, it's also spoiled for choice in terms of more classic Japanese cuisine. Located about ten minutes from the station is Fuku Sushi, a traditional looking sushi restaurant. With a counter and some tables, as well as a private tatami-decorated dining space, visitors are welcomed by, once entering through the noren curtain, a large water tank of aji (Japanese horse mackerel) which are often served in the restaurant itself. You will find the orthodox sushi menu items at Fuku such as nigiri and tempura but what sets Fuku apart from its competition is the slightly unusual dishes such as anago (sea water eel) sashimi and aji head karaage. Fuku has been feeding the good folk of Denenchofu since 1956 and there's a reason why it's still popular with locals today. The most popular menu choice is the selection of 10 pieces of sushi (omakase style) for a very reasonable price of ¥2,750. Considering the fish is sourced from the market in Toyosu guests are guaranteed an unforgettable culinary experience at Fuku.

  • Address: 1-47-1, Denenchofu, Ota-ku, Tokyo
  • Access: 10-min walk from Denenchofu Station or 8-min walk from Tamagawa Station on the Tokyu Toyoko Line, Tokyu Denentoshi Line 
  • Hours: 11:30 - 22:00
  • Closed:Tuesdays (Wednesday once a month)
  • TEL: 03-3721-7387

It may come as no surprise, considering the affluent atmosphere and large number of expats in the local area, as Denenchofu is home to one of Tokyo's best boulangeries. Run by Akiko Yokomori est Panis has been on every bread-lover's radar since opening in 2010. Specializing in pain de campagne (a kind of French sourdough), baguettes and pain de seigle (rye bread), est panis attracts many foreign visitors in the area and from further afield in the capital. Yokomori, who lived in France for three years, opened est Panis to serve the local community as well as running cookery classes (currently on hiatus) to pass on her culinary experiences she learned in Paris. Yokomori uses apple yeast which she makes, along with every menu item, in the backroom of the store. Her sandwiches, curry pan, shoku pan and assortment of other goodies has turned est panis into a much-loved bakery with legions of regulars.

  • Address: 2-23-4, Denenchofu, Ota-ku, Tokyo
  • Access: 7-min walk from Denenchofu Station on the Tokyu Toyoko Line, Tokyu Denentoshi Line
  • Hours:  10:30 - 16:00
  • Closed: Sundays, Mondays
  • TEL: 03-3721-5006

Denenchofu is a charming and curious part of Tokyo. Its obvious affluence and sophistication is never ostentatious. It's strangely beguiling and once you make the visit there, the experience never really leaves you. You find yourself wanting to come back again and again and explore the quaint backstreets, local stores and to meet the welcoming and friendly people who make Denenchofu so special.