“Harajuku” in Tokyo is a shopping place for young girls and it’s an epicentre of Tokyo fashion. Sugamo in Toshima-ku is regarded as Harajuku of Grandma’s version.
It’s because this is the place where grandmas and grandpas go, play and shop. The main attraction here is Togenuki Jizoson, a temple of the guardian deity of children. “Togenuki Jizoson” is a name of the deity in this temple and the name of the temple is “Koganji” but instead of saying “Koganji”, people usually say “Togenuki Jizoson” or more commonly “Togenuki Jizo”. For some people, Jizo temple may be just an excuse to go there. They just enjoy walking along the shopping street of Sugamo Jizo Dori Avenue. The photo below is the entrance of the shopping avenue.
Apart from the main Jizo temple, there is another temple called Shinsho-ji nearby. This temple has a large statue of Jizo. The Jizo in Togenuki Jizo Temple cannot be seen but Jizo in Shinsho-ji is sitting outside and you won’t miss.
There are many kinds of shops along the street and they are mainly for elder people. You can see the state-of-the-art fashion. Some shops sell healthy foods. There are many stores of daily commodities, souvenir shops, cafes, sweet shops, shops for ritual articles, and so on.
The original temple of Togenuki Jizo was built in 1596 in Yushima which is about 6km from Sugamo. The temple was removed to the current location in 1891. Another Jizo temple, Shinsho-ji was in Sugamo during Edo Era and at that time, there were many samurai’s residences around here.
Therefore, it seems if you dig the property in Sugamo, you maybe able to find some remains of long time ago. The area is called Sugamo Monument and people are actually studying the site even today.
Sugamo, especially along Togenuki Jizo Shopping Street is very crowded. I visited there on Saturday so maybe it was more crowded than weekdays. It was almost impossible to proceed by bicycle but Sugamo is bike-friendly place. They have several bike stations in the area. For the first two hours, it’s free of charge. From Sugamo, you can easily go to Rikugien Garden, Koishikawa Botanical Gardens, and if you have time and energy, you can try Kyu-Furukawa Garden if you are biking.
Address of Koganji: 35-2 Sugamo 3-chome, Toshima-ku, Tokyo