Saturday, August 9, 2008

Dolce MariRisa, Denen Chofu

Denen Chofu is what's properly termed a 'Garden Suburb'. The whole area was bought up by a developer named Eichi Shibusawa around the turn of the (last) century with the intention of turning it into a cleaner, greener planned suburb (and anyone who's been to Japan will attest that urban planning is not a deeply-held value here). Evidently the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923 actually helped the area - which was less damaged than the rest of Tokyo - by convincing people it was a good idea to live that far from the city center. Now, of course, it's relatively central, especially if your world centers on Shibuya. And it sure has succeeded in being a garden suburb, with trees, parks and gardens pretty much everywhere. The only downside is the limited shopping.

The station is quaint in a vaguely Swiss way - at least the building above the station that looks like it used to be the station, before the residents successfully petitioned to have the train line buried as it passed through their gardens. And in one of the buildings adjoining that quaint faux-chalet is this nice cake and tea shop. It's a strong representative of the painted-wooden-chairs, paned-windows, flowered curtains cafe that prevails in Den-en and neighboring Jiyugaoka.

All of this is by way of saying that I just drank a matcha latte. But it was pretty nice, the prices were very normal considering the surroundings, and the cakes looked very pretty! I was especially interested in the grape tart. Looked a lot like a cheesecake, but had cut kyohou grapes on top. Normally this would be tremendously scandalous - they weren't peeled! This tart had a sign on it saying that they were special grapes and you could eat the skins. Because in Japan, no one eats fruit skin. Really. Only me.