Tokyo Travels Part 11: Lunch at Chinzan-so

Chinzan-so is one of the many oases of green in the heart of Tokyo’s concrete panels, and it was where we stopped for lunch on our Hato bus tour.


We entered the garden through the Four Seasons hotel and, like at the tea ceremony, first dodged several wedding parties on our way to Mokushundo.



Hato describes the restaurant this way:

Delight in the Japanese style of barbeque on a stone grill created from molten lava from none other than Mount Fuji. The vast Japanese garden before your eyes is so grand—it will make you wonder if you are really in the middle of Tokyo!

We shuffled into the restaurant and sat around 3 sides of the 4-sided tables.  The fourth side was open so the staff could cook for us.

It sounds similar to Teppanyaki, but it’s different.  In Teppanyaki, the cook is basically sauteeing on an iron, hot surface.  The cook constantly moves stuff around, and entertains the guests.  The cook is also often in the middle of a horseshoe, again making the cook the center of attention.

At Mokushundo, the cook heats up the stone, places food on it to cook, and serves the diners. This style places the focus on the food and the guests.  While it is certainly entertaining, it’s not a show in the way Teppanyaki is.

We started with a small salad.


And then they started cooking meat and vegetables.



Lunch was light and tasty.  It was a nice, relaxing environment.

It would be a great place to go for an extended lunch to catch up with old friends after a long absence.

It’s also an example of something I’m not sure I would have discovered on my own. 

The restaurant is only half the story, though.  The Chinzan-so gardens are amazing. 

When you look ahead, all you see is lush greenery (and brides).  When you look up, you see the structures of modern Tokyo poking up beyond the trees – almost, but not quite, intruding on the peace of the garden.


This is the historic Kokosei Well.  The nearby placard describes it this way (I added the links):

This well has been ranked among the excellent waters in Tokyo since ancient time. Originally it is underground water from Chichibu Mountains. The little alkaline water, containing many minerals and calcium.


In the big earthquake (Kanto Daishinsai), the water was open to the victims to fill their thirst.


It is a square well; the side is 90 centimeters.

Nearby is a happy statue of Ebisu.


His placard says:

He is a god of inviting good fortune while keeping away calamities, especially safety and prosperity of transportation, fishery and commerce. He is a guardian deity of the people who enjoy fishing, sailing, and scuba diving.

The main walk also features 500 year old Stone Statues of Rakan in various stages of weathering.  Here is what that placard had to say.

Work of 16th century. The stone statues are carved in the image of Buddhism priest. They removed here from temples in Kyoto and Toba.








It was a beautiful property on a beautiful day.


More pictures of the lunch trip are here.

More pictures of Tokyo are here.

More of my Tokyo Travels posts are here.

1 comment:

Sam said...

there's something about japan that i really really love. this looks like an interesting place to eat or just be in. thanks for sharing the pics.