Translated by Kayoko Windle
Beautiful Everyday Life - A Stroll Through Hilly Seiseki Sakuragaoka
Written by Kazuki Tsuchido
Seiseki Sakuragaoka is a wealthy neighborhood in Tama New Town, just 30 minutes by express train direct from Shinjuku Station on the Keio line. Those in the know say that this station was the setting for the Studio Ghibli movie "Whisper of the Heart".
Seiseki-Sakuragaoka is a wealthy, open neighborhood in Tama New Town, with a bustling station front, just 30 minutes by express train from Shinjuku station via the Keio line. Those who are in the know say that the scenery here was the setting of the Studio Ghibli movie “Whisper of the Heart”.
Take a stroll through Seiseki-Sakuragaoka’s streets and you’ll get a laid back, lived in setting while thinking back to scenes from the movie.
The Stroll Starts From the Bustling Station Front
In the movie, there is a scene where the theme song "country road" was ironically changed to "concrete road" regarding this city, but actually this city is quiet and pleasant to live in, surrounded by the Tama hills with lots of green nature.
In front of the station there is a map which lets you follow the scenes of the movie. This is a once in a life time pilgrimage for Ghibli fans.
Also, next to the map there's something you don't see every day.
This is the Seishun, or adolescent, postbox. This isn't a regular postbox! You can write your dream or goals and put them in the box. This mail is not delivered anywhere but when your dreams come true then you can write again to report your success and express your gratitude.
We saw a little girl who came with her mother and put her letter in the box. What did she write? Let's hope for the best for her!
Life on the Top of the Slope and the Usual View from Above
Leaving the station, you'll see a gentle incline. If you've seen the movie, you'll already know there are lots of inclines across this city which makes your stroll a great exercise. As you go on your way you'll get to Irohazaka. But there's still further to go!
I know you may be short of breath, but keep going!
Finally, after you've conquered the stairs, you'll see Konpiragu Shrine. Standing quietly in a deserted location, it gives the atmosphere of this area an extra touch.
What's more, if you go through the shrine, you'll find a silent residential area, a scene common in Japan. As you keep wandering you'll overhear the sweet sounds of kids' lively voice or their parents chatting.
Here is Kumano Shrine. Seiseki Sakuragaoka area has a history which means these kinds of old buildings are around all over the place.
Among Ghibli fans, this location is called 'Mimioka' (Whisper Hill) which you will understand if you watch the movie!
It's rare in the Tokyo area for a hill to overlook the city like this. You might feel sentimental imagining the day to day lives of each house you can see, and experience a sense of accomplishment, looking over the scenery after conquering the climb.
It may not be the number one spot for sightseeing, but it's a peaceful Japanese city view with a wonderful sense of nature in Seiseki Sakuragaoka. Even if you're not familiar with the works of Studio Ghibli, it's still a delightful place for a stroll.
Location: Tokyo, Tama, Sekido 1-10-10
Nearest Station: Seiseki Sakuragaoka Station, Keio line
Access: walk from the West Exit of Seiseki Sakuragaoka' Station