June 26, 2021

Fantastic Fuchu

From ancient shrines to the lovely Kyodo-no-Mori, western Tokyo's Fuchu is an area that is chock full of hidden gems and attractions.

The main approach to Fuchu's Okunitama Shrine in western Tokyo

Tokyo just never ceases to amaze me. Every time I think that I’ve seen most of the spots that I want to, something new pops up on the proverbial radar. Simply put, this megalopolis is like an onion. Every time you pull back a layer, there’s another one waiting to explore. Case in point, a very close friend of mine (you know who…) recently had driving school in western Tokyo. Following her class, we decided to check out the neighboring area of Fuchu. Low and behold, I uncovered a treasure trove of yet-to-be-documented attractions during my research for the outing. Whodathunkit!

On that note, allow me to introduce my latest area guide on the fantastic section of Tokyo that is Fuchu. Located less than an hour from the likes of Shibuya and Shinjuku, this slice of the prefecture strikes the perfect balance between convenience and suburban charm. Though a bedroom community for many people working in Tokyo, Fuchu feels far removed from the hustle and bustle of the city. What’s more, Fuchu also has a long history too. In fact, prior to Tokyo (then called Edo) being a political center of power, Fuchu was the capital of the local government for centuries.

Now, I do need to come clean and say that Fuchu isn’t the kind of destination that I’d recommend to someone on their first expedition to Japan. While it is indeed impressive, there are better locals for those just dipping their toes into the amazing and never-ending world of Japan. That said though, Fuchu is a great hidden gem for travelers here on their umpteenth visit who are on the hunt for something unique. Additionally, Fuchu is also a great spot for those on longer stays who can explore the country more leisurely.

Getting to Fuchu

As mentioned in the prelude, Fuchu can be found in western Tokyo. Getting there isn’t exactly hard in comparison to many of the other locales that I feature but it will require making some train transfers. Here, our ever-helpful friend Hyperdia (or a similar service) will be of great assistance when it comes to calculating the schedules. For the record, Fuchu can be accessed via a number of stations but the two that I suggest you consider are Fuchu Honmachi Station and Koremasa Station.

Once you’re in Fuchu, I highly suggest that you explore the premises on foot. While there are a number of buses, these are both difficult to navigate and detract from Fuchu’s relaxing suburban vibe. Given the layout and the fact there’s a number of stations, I suggest that you start at either Fuchu Honmachi Station or Koremasa Station and work your way back. In our case, we started at Fuchu Honmachi Station and worked our way down to Tokyo’s Tama River where Koremasa Station is located.

What to See in Fuchu

Hydrangeas outside the Fuchu City Local Forest Museum in Kyodo-no-Mori

All in all, Fuchu is like an eclectic smorgasbord of attractions. The region sits on the remnants of the Koshu Kaido, an important highway that connected present-day Yamanashi Prefecture with the greater Tokyo region. Because of this, Fuchu has long been a place of strategic importance. Unsurprisingly, the area was also the ancient Musashi Province’s political seat of power for some time. If you know where to look, you can still find all sorts of echoes of Fuchu’s former historical significance.

The following list contains my top recommendations for what to see and do in Fuchu. While here’s more than just these, the below three allures should amount up to a solid half-day worth of exploration. As always, I’ll include links to Google Maps so that you, the reader, can get your bearings…

  • Kyodo-no-Mori
    This open space is split into two distinct sections. The first is essentially a park where Fuchu locals can spend a leisurely weekend with their families. While cute, the real reason you’d want to visit Kyodo-no-Mori is the Fuchu City Local Forest Museum. Located on the far west side of Kyodo-no-Mori, this open air museum has a number of historical buildings on its grounds. Additionally, during the early parts of summer, the park is also one of the best spots in Tokyo for hydrangeas (as can be seen above). Honestly, I can’t believe that I slept on this place for so long!
  • Okunitama Shrine
    Somehow I had completely missed this 1,9000 year-old hidden gem until my recent trip to Fuchu. Considered to be one of Tokyo’s top five shrines, Okunitama Shrine is the amalgamation of six former shrines. The sanctuary enshrines Okuninushi, an important deity in the Shinto pantheon. Okunitama Shrine is famous for its Kurayama Festival which takes place at night. This celebration happens every evening between April 30th and May 6th and often attracts tens of thousands of people. When visiting Okunitama Shrine, be sure not to miss the treasure hall as has all sorts of artifacts that are related to the Kurayama Festival.
  • Dai-Tokyo Wholesale Market
    While not exactly what one might call a tourist destination, Dai-Tokyo Wholesale Market has been around for over 50 years now. Here, both professional merchants and local folk shop for high quality goods. The market has over 70 stores which collectively peddle a truly impressive selection of wares. There’s even a number of restaurants here too where you can savor both Japanese and western cuisine!

In addition to the above, there’s also an onsen called Tokinoirodori Natural Hot Spring Inagion the far side of the Tama River should you work up a sweat hoofing it around Fuchu. Sadly, it was closed due to Roan-chan when we were in Fuchu but maybe your luck will be better. Finally, if you’re a fan of horse racing, you’ll also find JRA’s Tokyo Racecourse. Here, you can get your galloping stallion fix. Not really what I’d call my shtick but, hey, whatever floats your boat…

Attractions Near Fuchu

A man sits in front of an irori hearth at Tokyo’s historic Edo-Tokyo Open Air Architectural Museum

Western Tokyo is criminally underrated. Fuchu aside, there’s a tremendous amount of things to do in this neck of the woods. From the spiritual enclave on Mt. Takao, to the Edo-Tokyo Open Air Architectural Museum (pictured above), you could spend days just in this section of Tokyo. All in all, if you’re looking for a day trip from the capital, there’s few locales that I’d recommend over the western Tokyo.

I’ve already penned a number of pieces on this sliver of the world’s biggest metropolis so rather than reinvent the wheel, I’ll just direct you to the list of articles below…

Until next time travelers…