OGIKUBO / NISHI-OGIKUBO
Ogikubo, the center of Suginami Ward, is well known for its high concentration of ramen noodle shops. This town was also loved by literary figures of modern Japan.
The two shopping buildings, “Lumine” and “Ogikubo Town Seven,” are connected to the north exit of Ogikubo Station. Both north and south exits of the station open into long shopping malls, which attract many customers. “Nagomi no yu,” a one-minute walk from the north exit, is a spa facility that offers recreated famous onsen hot spring waters from all over Japan, which change with the seasons, as well as saunas.
Next, letfs head to the south and find some more cultural spots.
Walk out from the south exit of Ogikubo Station, head east along the railroad track for two minutes, then turn right and you will see a retro-modern building bearing a sign that reads gSaiko Lodging.h This building was very prominent as a luxurious Japanese-style hotel about 80 years ago. The place still continues its business as a restaurant and hotel.
From there, go south and you will find Otaguro Park. Entering through the gates, a long gingko tree promenade comes into view. Carry on and you will come to a Japanese-style garden encompassing a pond, with a tea house to one side. The springtime cherry blossoms and autumn colors are beautifully illuminated in the evenings. Suginami Central Library is located in front of Otaguro Park. Next to the library is Dokusho no Mori (greaders’ woodh) Park, where Japanfs first statue of Gandhi stands.
Walk through Otaguro Park and into the residential areas, and you will find Kadokawa Garden and Gengi Sanbo Suginami Poetry House (a modern Sukiya-style Japanese house, designated as a national tangible cultural asset). The residence of Kadokawa Genyoshi, the founder of Kadokawa Shoten Publishing & Co., is open to the public.
Moving further south, you will arrive at Zenpukuji-gawa Ryokuchi Park.
Nishi-Ogikubo Station is built on an elevated track, with shopping malls spreading north and south. Large pink elephants can be found hanging from the ceilings of the arcade street to the south. This is a peculiar sightc or perhaps it is just the height of fashion.
The Nishi-Ogikubo (western Ogikubo) area was formerly a wealthy residential area. Because of that, it is said that antique shops offering sophisticated goods have gradually gathered in this area, and now the number of such stores exceeds 60. Tourists can enjoy hunting for bargains in Kita-Ginza-dori Street, Fushimi-dori Street on the north side, and in Shinmei-dori Street etc. on the south side of the station. Visitors can obtain a free gNishi-Ogikubo Antique Maph at each shop. Many curio collectors come to enjoy the “Nishiogi Kotto-zuki Matsuri” (antique fairs), which are held here in spring and fall.
Take a walk along Fushimi-dori Street to the north from Nishi-Ogikubo Station. Passing through the residential area, you will come to Zenpukuji Park, which spreads around Zenpukuji Pond. The pond is divided into two parts ? the Upper and Lower ponds. Here you can enjoy rowing boats and viewing cherry blossoms in spring.
Igusa Hachimangu Shrine is located to the east of Zenpukuji Park. Particularly impressive is the pair of huge stone lanterns standing proudly at the entrance of the east promenade along Ome-kaido Avenue. The shrine holds a horseback Shinto ritual called “Yabusame (Japanese archers)” every five years. On nights in May it also hosts gNishiogi Takigi-Noh,h a traditional Japanese play illuminated by bonfire.
Suginami is also a must-see for anime fans. gNamisuke,h the ward’s cute mascot, is popular and can be found everywhere including on the bus, and on signs in town.
Move further north from Igusa Hachimangu Shrine and you will come to Kami-Igusa area, where animation-related companies stand close together. A statue of Gundam, a popular animation hero, was erected at Kami-Igusa Station in March 2008. Some fans are so moved when they see the divine beauty of the monument that they offer coins to it as they would offer them to gods at temples or shrines. It is certainly worth visiting. Officials say that they are planning various activities as an anime town.
Heading south along Ome-kaido Avenue towards Ogikubo Station, you will find the Suginami Animation Museum across the street from Ogikubo Hachiman Shrine. The museum opened in 2005 and it houses a variety of Japanese animation exhibits including a chronological table of anime history, various animation movies, hands-on animation experiences, production experiences, and special exhibitions. The museum holds interesting projects and events in order to attract animation fans of all ages.