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The Local Charm of Shops Around the Shoin Shrine

by Veronika 923

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This time we will be visiting the area around
Shoin Shrine station, located on the "Tokyu
Setagaya Line", just five minutes away from
the popular Sangenjaya. There are many
interesting things to see around the area,
particularly the retro shopping district with
old cafes and shops, and the Shoin Shrine,
a place to pray for success in academics.
The recommended style of looking around
the area is "cafe hopping" with a group of

Recommended Route

Shoin Shrine Station →
1. Shoin Shrine →
2. All About My Croquette →
3. Nostos Books →
Shoin Shrine Station

Distance: 0.8 km
Steps: 1251
Time: 10min + sightseeing, shopping
Budget: 4000 yen

Just to the North of the station you can find
a store called "Sakurai Rice Shop" and a
group of sparrows in front of it. Apparently,
the owner of the store is feeding the local
As soon as you stop by a store that catches
your attention, you will easily be able to
start a conversation with shop owners,
workers and visitors of the shopping district.
The shopping district seems big and really
pleasant, making it a great starting point of
the days' journey!

1. Pray at the Shoin Shrine immersed in the
feel of the late Edo (around 1853-1867)

You can see Shoin Shrine right after leaving
the shopping district. This shrine is famous
for being dedicated to Shoin Yoshida, a
philosopher and educator of the bakumatsu
period (the end of Edo) who is enshrined
here. That is why this place is considered to
have strong ties to education, and many
people come here to pray for academic
success and good luck before taking tests. 
Many important figures in Japanese history
who later contributed to Meiji Restoration,
like Shinsaku Takasugi, Hirobumi Ito, and
Aritomo Yamagata, gained their education
in Shoka Sonjuku, an academy headed by
Shoin. So this place is a necessary visit for
people interested in Japanese history,
particularly the period between the end of
the shogunate and reinstating the Emperor
as the ruler of the country.

The grounds of the shrine are beautiful
and relaxing - a perfect environment for a
quiet and refreshing walk.

The shrine is open between 7AM and 5PM.
The sales of prayer scrolls, amulets and
other shrine souvenirs begin at 9AM.

2. Have a delicious and photogenic snack
of croquettes.

When you leave the shrine and head back
towards the shopping district, you can soon
smell a delicious smell...
It is the smell of "All About My Croquette" -
a store specializing in croquettes opened
in 2016 by a croquette enthusiast.

The croquettes in the store are mostly
made from special potatoes from Hokkaido.
There are usually about 6~10 types of the
food available for order, with a new type
coming out every 2 months. There are
different variations, from "beets and cream
cheese" to "shrimp and vanilla", so it is fun
to wonder about the flavor when choosing
and trying new things every time.

The recommended choice is the "daily
combination of two croquettes" (1000 yen,
including tax).

The choice this day is the "plain" croquette
with mashed and cubed potatoes, and the
colorful and gorgeous "beets and cream
cheese" one. The lovely oval shaped
croquettes have a thin coating, so they are
very easy to eat.

All About My Croquette 
Wakamatsuya bld. 1F,
4-20-9 Wakabayashi, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo
Open 11:00 ~ 20:00
Closed on Mon, Thu

After filling your stomach with the
deliciousness, cross the railroad tracks
and head to the southern side of the
shopping district.
On the way you might spot a cat train!

The train is a part of the event celebrating
110 years of Tokyu Tamagawa line.
The Gotokuji temple located on the line is
said to be the origin of the good luck
"maneki neko" cat, which became the base
for this train's appearance. It will be
operating until the end of March, so try to
catch it if you are in the area.

3. Search for books in the lovely used
books store.

If you are lucky and see the cat train, and
even if you do not, head on to the south.
After about a minute you will see a used
book store "Nostos Books".

There are around 3000 used books in
the shop, focusing on art and design,
including picture books and photography
albums. The layout is changed every
week to entertain the regular customers,
and there is also a space for books
displayed in accordance to special
collections of the online store.

At the time of this article, the collection
for Japanese beauty and design was
displayed. When you think of folk craft,
you might imagine something only
appealing to the elderly, however there
are many things that are beautiful to
look at even now in this collection! You
might even be surprised how fancy it looks...

Once or twice a month there are
exhibitions by various artists displayed
in the store. Until 25th of February the
exhibition by Sodeyama Kahoko "A
coffee shop in a town somewhere",
focused on illustrations of commercials,
magazines and books will be displayed.
The works are truly amazing, so definitely
check them out if you have the chance!

There are also many different pieces
made by Japanese artists, so you can
feel surrounded by art when visiting the

nostos books
4-2-12 Setagaya, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo
Open 12:00 ~ 19:00
Closed on Wednesdays

Leaving the store you can see a nostalgic
retro alley on the south side. Makes you
want to take a lot of pictures.

There is even a capsule toy vending
machine nearby!

Return to childhood and try
turning the lever!

4. Secret of Setagaya! A cafe that is open
only two days a week.

After you stroll down the alley, take a
rest in a cafe. The famous cafe around
Shoin Shrine is the "cafe Lotta", and on
Wednesdays and Thursdays when it's
closed, there is another operating in its'
place, called "AMBIRD".

Coffee made by the black swan can be
enjoyed by both beginners and hardcore
fans, as it has a wide selection of light,
medium and dark roast beans. Every
cup is made from carefully selected beans
by drip brew method.

You can also try green tea chosen by
the owner himself. Feel the difference
in flavor of every cup you have.

Try a nice set of light roast Onibus
Coffee (500 yen) with handmade pound
cake (400 yen). The blissful moment is
perfect for spending time with friends,
getting lost in meaningful conversations.

AMBIRD /café Lotta
4-2-12 Setagaya, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo

café Lotta 
Open 12:00 ~ 18:00
Closed on Wed, Thu

Open 12:00 ~ 20:00
(Wed & Thu only)

What did you think about this route?
Actually, the area around Shoin Shrine
has recently been gaining attention for
various shops, like the "STUDY" with a
quiet and calm atmosphere, a popular
bakery "MERCI BAKE", or a perfect morning
shop "Asahiya Parlor". Seems like a perfect
place to look for hidden gems with a group
of friends while doing some light shopping.
Get away from the worries of everyday life
and immerse yourself in a nice relaxing


Original article in Japanese