There are many places all around the world that one can visit in order to gain new experiences and lessons in life. Some people opt to travel all over Europe and experience the western culture while others opt to travel to Asia because of the rich culture that it brings to the lives of people.
If one is interested in traveling to the different parts of Asia, there are certainly a lot of options. Among the top countries that foreigners from all over the world visit in Asia is Japan. Known mostly because of anime and manga, there are a lot more things and places that can be explored in the Land of the Rising Sun. With several wards and cities in the country, coupled with various mountains all over the country, it is no wonder that people flock to Japan almost any season due to its many tourist attractions.
Shinagawa-ku in Tokyo: Facts, Map, Stations
Among the many places in Japan, probably the most well-known is the Tokyo Metropolis. Within Tokyo, there are numerous wards that one can opt to visit. One of the many wards in the metropolis is Shinagawa. A special ward in Tokyo, Shinagawa currently houses ten embassies on its land. Some people may be familiar with the ward as it was featured in the film “Godzilla” in the year 1954. Also known as Shinagawa Ward or Shinagawa-ku in Japanese and street addresses, it has a population of approximately 380,293 persons as of the latest survey on the 1st of April in the year 2016. With a total area of 22.84 square kilometers or 8.82 square miles, Shinagawa has a population density of 16,510 persons per square kilometer or 42,800 persons per square mile.
Located in the Tokyo Metropolis of the Kanto region, Shinagawa is composed of natural uplands, lowlands, and even reclaimed lands. The uplands are situated on the eastern side of the Musashino Terrace. Some of the uplands in Shinagawa are the Shiba-Shirokanedai located just north of the Meguro River, the Ebaradai located just south of the Tachiai River, and the Megurodai located between the Meguro River and the Tachiai River. Surrounding Shinagawa are all special wards of Tokyo, namely Minato on the northern part, Ota on the southern part, Koto on the eastern part, and Meguro on the western part of Shinagawa.
Lying on Tokyo Bay, Shinagawa is comprised of five main districts, namely the Shinagawa District, the Osaki District, the Ebara District, the Oi District, and the Yashio District. The Shinagawa District includes the previous Shinagawa-juku on the Tokaido while the Yashio District includes Higashiyashio on Odaiba. The other three districts, Osaki, Ebara, and Oi were previously a town of the same name, with the Osaki District extending from Osaki Station to Gotanda Station and Meguro Station.
Several company headquarters are also located within Shinagawa. Some of these companies include Isuzu, Lawson, Namco Bandai Games, MOS Burger, Nippon Light Metal, and JTB Corporation. There are also branch offices and research facilities within the area of Shinagawa. Some of these include the Gotenyama Technology Center and the Osaki East Technology Center owned by Sony.
Shinagawa can also be considered a great place for people wishing to study there. Various universities for both undergraduate and graduate studies are located in the area such as Hoshi University, Seisen University, Tokyo Health Care University, Rissho University, Advanced Institute of Industrial Technology, and Tokyo Metropolitan College of Industrial Technology. As for public education, elementary and junior high schools are overseen by the Shinagawa Ward Board of Education while high schools are overseen by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Board of Education. There are also private high schools, international schools, and special education schools in Shinagawa.
As for transportation, Shinagawa is easily accessible via railway stations, rail, and expressways. The four primary railway stations in Shinagawa are the Gotanda Station, Meguro Station, Osaki Station, and Oimachi Station. The Shinagawa Station in Minato can also be used to access Shinagawa. For the people using rail, different lines operated by the East Japan Railway Company (JR East) such as the Yamanote Line with Osaki, Gotanda, and Meguro Stations; the Saikyo Line with Osaki Station; and the Shonan-Shinjuku Line with Osaka Station and Nishi-Oi Station. Other transportation organizations that operate rail lines include the Tokyu Corporation, Keikyu Corporation, and Tokyo Metropolitan Bureau of Transportation. The trains operated by Keikyu also travel to Haneda Airport and Yokohama among other places. In the year 2003, the Tokaido Shinkansen high-speed rail also started going to Shinagawa Station. Furthermore, there are highways for people who have their own private vehicles such as Route 1 Haneda Sen in Shuto Expressway or Shutoko in Japanese and Route 15 Dai-Ichi Keihin.
Places to Go: Sengaku-ji, Hara Museum of Contemporary Art, Shinagawa Kumin Park
Located at the center of Japan, Shinagawa also houses a lot of tourist spots for visitors from all over the world. If one is looking for a place with a rich history and a fascinating tale behind it, then look no further than Sengaku-ji. It is a temple in Shinagawa that is most well-known as the place where the 47 Ronin rests. For those who are not aware, the 47 Ronin is a prominent group of ronin, which is translated to samurais without masters. These ronins came together with the sole purpose of avenging their previous master who was killed unjustly. After beheading the man who had slain their master, they brought it to Sengaku-ji. After which, they proceeded to turn themselves into the authorities. However, instead of being punished like regular criminals, these ronins were ordered to commit the Japanese ritual suicide or the seppuku.
The story is usually told in Chushingura, which is among the most popular Kabuki plays. While the story behind the popularity of Sengaku-ji is tragic, the temple itself does not necessarily display this dark side. While the façade itself is not extraordinary, the temple has a small museum that contains artifacts that came from the actual event. There are also wooden statues of all the members of the 47 Ronin. Other artifacts include original letters, the banner that the group had posted before committing the crime, and the receipt that was written by the priests at that time for the head that was left by the group. To access Sengaku-ji, simply get off at the Sengaku-ji Station on the Toei Asakusa Line.
For the art aficionados, the must-see place in Shinagawa would be the Hara Museum of Contemporary Art. Among the oldest contemporary art museums in the country, the Hara Museum of Contemporary Art is located at 4-7-25 Kita-Shinagawa, Shinagawa-ku, Tokyo 140-0001 near La Foret Hotel. Originally constructed as a private mansion, it was donated by a businessman in the name of Hara Kunizo. Designed by Jin Watanabe in the year 1938, the mansion was built for the grandfather of Toshio Hara, an international collector and the present president of the museum. The architecture of the building is a classic example of a Bauhaus style during the early Showa period.
The mansion was officially turned into a museum in the year 1979 after also being used as the Embassy of the Philippines and the Embassy of Sri Lanka post-World War II. It was then renovated in the year 2008, which includes a new lighting system based on the design of Shozo Toyohisa. Open from Tuesday to Sunday, the museum holds a number of exhibitions that varies in art styles ranging from design, music, architecture, and even dance. A permanent collection is also exhibited in the museum by artists such as Karel Appel, Yves Klein, Aiko Miyawaki, Alexander Calder, and Yayoi Kusama to name a few. The museum can be accessed by getting off at JR Shinagawa Station where it is only about 15 minutes away by walking. The museum has its own annex known as the Hara Museum ARC that is located near Ikaho in Gunma Prefecture.
On the other hand, the ideal place to go to in Shinagawa for families would be the Shinagawa Kumin Park. Located at 3-2-2 Katsushima, Shinagawa, Tokyo 140-0012, the Shinagawa Kumin Park is open from 6:00 am to 8:30 pm on the months of April to November and 6:00 am to 6:00 pm on the months of December to March. Even within the busy Tokyo metropolis, families can still enjoy nature by going and strolling around this park. There are bicycle and jogging lanes perfect for people doing light exercise. Baseball practice fields, an outdoor swimming pool, and tennis courts can also be found and used in the park. For couples and families that wish to eat inside the park, there are a BBQ area, picnic benches, and tables where they can enjoy each other’s company. The Shinagawa Aquarium can also be found inside the Shinagawa Kumin Park, perfect for children and kids at heart.
Staying true to nature, the park also houses more than 100 types of trees such as flowering plum and cherry blossoms. Hence, people usually flock to this place during cherry blossom season. A stocked fishing pond is also made available for visitors during the winter season wherein one can fish for up to two hours for a fixed price.
The Shinagawa Prince Hotel and its Epson Aqua Park Aquarium
Because a lot of things can be done within Shinagawa, one might want to stay for a few night in the ward. If one does not have an apartment to sleep in, then one may opt to stay in a hotel. Probably the most famous hotel in the area would be the Shinagawa Prince Hotel. With its location at 10-30 Takanawa 4-chome, Minato-ku, Tokyo, 108-8611, there are many ways to get to the hotel. It offers business support, internet, room service, help desk services, and luggage delivery services to name a few. For tourists who are relatively new to Shinagawa, the front desk of the hotel are quite knowledgeable of the place and are more than willing to guide visitors on the how-tos.
Aside from the great accommodation and customer service that the hotel provides to its guests, another highlight of going to Shinagawa Prince Hotel is the Epson Aqua Park Shinagawa. Situated inside Shinagawa Prince Hotel, this attraction is perfect for families with kids or even adults who are highly fascinated by sea creatures. While the Aqua Park itself is not entirely huge, the features of the place are what sets it apart from other attractions. Sharks, crabs, anemone fish, and even penguins can be found inside the park. There are also shows held with performing dolphins and sea lions for the amusement of the visitors. To walk below their aquarium of various sea animals would definitely make one express such delight in its beauty.
Other Hotels to Check Out in Shinagawa
If one is not interested in staying in Shinagawa Prince Hotel due to a certain reason, one can also opt to stay in other hotels that still provide great accommodation and customer services. These options include the Takanawa Tobu Hotel, the Prince Sakura Tower Hotel, the Grand Prince Hotel Takanawa, and the Toyoko Inn Shinagawa Eki Autokinetic Hotel. Not exactly the most luxurious hotel, these options still provide good amenities and commendable services to its customers. The most important thing would be the comfort that one would get when staying in the hotel, after all.
There are certainly a lot more to discover in Shinagawa aside from the ones mentioned above. Exploring more places and learning the culture would definitely make the experience in Shinagawa worthwhile. Going to Tokyo and including Shinagawa in the list of cities or wards to visit would absolutely be worth it. Take pictures and, of course, have fun while going around Shinagawa.