Launch of UrbanWeird Photo Explorations and Sugamo
In light of the launch of UrbanWeird Photo Exploration, my highly customized guided photowalks in central Tokyo (click on link at the top for more information), I’ve decided to highlight a specific area of Tokyo that can be a part of an Exploration.
We are now going to Sugamo (which basically translates to "Duck's Nest") is the name of the station and the neighbourhood around it on the much less touristed northern half of the Yamanote Line loop. But the main attraction is about a 5-minute walk north of the station. It is a shopping street called Jizo-dori but the unofficial name is "Grannies' Harajuku".
I'll explain the reference to Harajuku. Harajuku is another station and area also on the Yamnote Line but further south in a much more trendy part of the city. It is world famous for the young fashionistas who populate the main drag of Omote-sando and the small side streets lined with funky and trendy boutiques. Basically, it is THEEE place to 'be seen' in Tokyo.
So translate that but for the elderly in Sugamo. It is a trip down memory lane and basically just a trip. Since many of the stores cater to the older folk, you can find traditional snacks, such as various flavors of senbei (rice crackers), and boutiques selling fabulous obaasan (granny/old lady) fashion. For some reason, red underwear (aka [red] pantsu [pants/underwear]) are quite the thing to buy, with several stores along the street selling nothing but the boldly colored unmentionables.
The street is particularly busy on the weekends when street vendors set up shop along the street adding to the atmosphere. If you look slightly up you will notice signs all along the street telling people where the nearest automated external defibrillator (AED) is located, giving you a constant reminder to whom this street really belongs!