I recently had to return home to Hawai’i for a very short few days, but on the way I had to pass through Haneda Airport with an 8 hour layover. So rather than stay in the airport for that long, we opted to take the monorail to the very last stop (maybe about 20 minutes if you take the express), Hamamatsucho-eki 浜松町駅. I did not find many ideas online of what to do with all this time (most people seem content to just stay in the airport, shopping or eating), but I was determined to make the best use of these few hours and decided on Hamamatsucho as my destination (most of the other stops did not sound like there was much around).
When we first got off at the station, we headed to the Japanese garden park that was adjacent; Kyu Shiba Rikyu Garden 旧芝離宮恩賜庭園 is formerly an Imperial garden. It is small but pretty, and admission was only 150yen. We were too early for sakura, though there were a few buds here and there. We were also at the very end of ume (plum blossoms) so not much to see there either, however, there were some other nice seasonal plants. It was refreshing, though a bit on the cold side.
After this we walked down the street and visited the Kumano jinja 熊野神社 (shrine) and Zōjō-ji (temple) 増上寺, located just in front of Tokyo Tower and next to Shiba Park. We were hungry, so we did not have a chance to wander through Shiba Park or Tokyo Tower (I have been there before anyway), just this small area around the temple and shrine, as well as the Unborn Children Garden. These are not uncommon to see at many temples in Japan, with rows of stone statues which represent unborn children (such as miscarried, aborted, or stillborn). Parents choose a statue, decorating it with clothing and toys. Often you will see a small gift for Jizo 地蔵 (guardian of unborn children). If you see stones are piled up near the statue this is meant to make journey into the afterlife easier.
To finish up, we headed to a place located just behind the station called Devil Craft Brewery… craft beer and Chicago-style pizza! Yes, I know… most people go to Japan and are not looking for this type of thing, but we live here and these types of places are few and far between. So how can we turn this down?
Apparently there are 2 other locations in Tokyo as well. They have some craft brews of their own, and some others from around Japan. Many foreigners will also be happy to know there is an English menu for both food and drinks. We did not make reservations, but since we got there at opening time (5pm) we got a table– keep this in mind if you decide to visit, get reservations! This place is super popular.
We each ended up to try 2 beers (pints) each, splitting an appetizer and a pizza. To be honest, it was my first time to have Chicago-style pizza! My husband loves it and it is his favorite type; since we have never seen another place serving Chicago pizza in Japan we knew we had to come here and try it. And it was so good!
Overall, it was pretty awesome, though a little costly. But when you consider that the craft beer scene in Japan is still a little new, I think their prices were fair to be honest. I would highly recommend trying this place out if you find yourself in the area.
Once we finished eating, it was time to get back on the monorail to the airport for our late night flight.
Kyu Shiba Rikyu Garden: https://goo.gl/maps/LaKjv9U49nC2
Kumano Shrine: https://goo.gl/maps/Ar5YmhSQ5kQ2
Devil Craft Brewery: https://goo.gl/maps/CJ6aLTiXS5G2