Several decades ago, commuters riding the Mekama Line into Meguro Station were tagged country bumpkins. Today, developers pack the ward with suburban homes as fast as they can pour cement. Old dwellings with gardens give way to duplexes with flowerpots, and chic furniture stores now clog Meguro Avenue to satiate design-hungry homemakers.

But the ward is not all polish and pretense. Despite aggressive gentrification, Meguro still harbors distinctive museums, fine parks and elements of endearing eccentricity.

Take for example Meguro Station, a little bizarre as it isn't even in Meguro, but rather occupies part of Minato Ward. Meguro proper, or perhaps improper, lies west of the station. There, Tokyo's most prominent love hotel looms over the concrete embankments of the Meguro River like a high-school stage set of Cinderella's castle.