Over the weekend my mini rail fan and I headed out for some trainspotting and shitamachi exploring in Sugamo and Otsuka.
How or why my little Kaiju has become such a rail fan remains a mystery to me. But, this was a course that I had been planning since I did a report/filming for a project back in November 2018.
About Sugamo and Otsuka
Sugamo and Otsuka, both stops in the northern corridor of the JR Yamanote Line, are quintessential Tokyo shitamachi (下町) neighborhoods with a homely, retro feel. Gone are the mile-high skyscrapers and crowds of people scrambling to get to their next destination. Instead, the people of Tokyo’s shitamachi have a welcoming, laid-back vibe.
I have a deep appreciation for Tokyo’s shitamachi (downtown areas) and if you’ve seen an English language article about shitamachi spots like Edogawa, Sugamo, Kameido, or Shibamata, there’s a pretty good chance that it was written by ME!
Shameless self-promo aside… onto the photo diary of our weekend outing!
The “Harajuku for grandmothers,” Sugamo has long been known as the hangout spot for Tokyo’s older generations. But, in recent years it’s a popular destination for youth thanks to its convenient location, wallet-friendly meals, and Instagram-worthy snacks like black ice cream and soft serve drenched in honey.
Sugamo’s main delight — shio daifuku. A salty rice cake filled with crushed sweet red bean paste and coated with lots of flour.
READ: 3 Must-Try Traditional Japanese Sweets in Tokyo (Live Japan)
Head to Sugi for creamy soft serve topped with honey
Sugamo is famous for lucky red underpants…
…But the bargain hunter in me couldn’t resist picking up a few undergarments for little Kaiju!
Togenuki Jizo-ji temple attracts visitors who wish do to Arai Kannon (洗い観音).
Kannon, the Buddhist deity of compassion and mercy, relieves you of your physical ailments when you wash her.
Take a ride on the Toei Arakawa Line from Koushinzuka Station to Otsuka Station.
Renamed the Tokyo Sakura Tram in 2017, it’s a popular mode of transportation during the cherry blossom season
Most people think of cherry blossoms when they hear “Toei Arakawa Line.”
… But, for me, it’s all about the roses!
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Next to Sugamo on the Yamanote Line is Otsuka. Its streets are filled will Showa era shopping arcades (商店街 | shoutengai).
The courtyard is a wonderful place to relax!
Not too far away (<100 m) are the platforms for the Tokyo Sakura Tram…
…You can guess how long we stayed here!
Until our next Tokyo trainspotting adventure…