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Tokyo Walk: Looking for “Showa Retro” and “The Cat” in the Tokyo Town of Ome

Travel

ReleaseMarch 10, 2022

Ride the Chuo Line from Shinjuku for about 60 minutes and you’ll be in Ome City. Over the centuries countless travelers and traders have passed through Omejuku, once a rest stop town on the Ome Kaido Road joining Edo (modern day Tokyo) with Koshu (modern day Yamagata Prefecture). Much of the historical townscape still remains, growing especially popular these days for its mid to late-20th century “Showa retro” flair.

Ome City Ome City
One other reason why Ome is in the spotlight these days is “the Cat.” A row of signboards stands on a street that runs along the old Ome Kaido Road in front of JR Ome Station. These posters are all parodies, inserting a cat into famous films. Ten of these works by the children’s book artist Yamaguchi Mao pop up here and there through the town. Sparked by these movie signs, the feline theme snowballed until today Ome has now become known as “Cat Town.”
posters in Ome City

Posters in Ome City


What is the connection between Ome and cats?
The bustling road stop town of Ome was also a center for textiles, including silk. Long ago, cats were cherished as defenders against the silkworm’s natural enemy, rats. A “Cat Jizo” in feline form is enshrined at Jyohoji Temple. Elsewhere, a cat god of business prosperity is enshrined at Sumiyoshi Shrine. Linked in various ways like these, the town became known for its feline theme.
Ome City Suyoshi Shrine
Sumiyoshi Shrine


Showa Retro Packaging Museum

In an eye catching old wooden building along the old Ome Kaido Road, everyday items from the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s are displayed including toys, medicine, food and drink packages. Older people are sure to feel nostalgia while younger visitors can enjoy the retro atmosphere in new ways. The exhibition of signs from the era by the professional movie signboard painter Kubo Bankan is also stunning.
Showa Retro Packaging Museum
Showa Retro Packaging Museum

Showa Retro Packaging Museum Showa Retro Packaging Museum Showa Retro Packaging Museum Showa Retro Packaging Museum Showa Retro Packaging Museum
Admission: Adults 350 yen
For the latest information, check the official Twitter.
https://twitter.com/gentokan


Namio Coffee

Namio Coffee opened on the 1st floor in February 2022. Enjoy the finest coffee with handmade donuts in this relaxing space. Your latte will be topped with some feline foam art.
Namio Coffee Namio Coffee Namio Coffee
https://www.instagram.com/namiocoffee/

Showa Gento Kan Museum

In the Annex near the Showa Retro Packaging Museum is a permanent exhibition of the sumie (black-and-white painting) artists Hiromi Arita and Chabo Arita. From vintage style pictures of cats to plush toy figurines and more, the space is filled with heartwarming pieces. Wonderfully nostalgic dioramas from the artist Yamamoto Takaki are also on display.
Showa Gento Kan Museum
Showa Gento Kan Museum

Showa Gento Kan Museum Showa Gento Kan Museum Showa Gento Kan Museum Showa Gento Kan Museum
Dioramas

Showa Gento Kan Museum
Admission: Adults 250 yen
For the latest information, check the official Twitter.
https://twitter.com/gentokan


Nya Nya Magari

A mysterious signboard is found in the alley by the station: “Nya Nya Magari, the Showa Cat Town.” It seems that local people have started putting up cat decorations along this narrow winding road once called “The Alley of Seven Bends.” This curving, curious road keeps things exciting with cats on signs showing all manner of expression and ornaments of all sizes exuding handmade charm! Keep an eye out for pawprints.

Ome City Nya Nya Magari Ome City Nya Nya Magari Ome City Nya Nya Magari Ome City Nya Nya Magari

CINEMA NEKO

Around 15 minutes’ walk from Ome Station is a movie theater opened in 2021. Registered as a National Tangible Cultural Property, this Former Tokyo Textile Research Center, while still retaining the warmth of its original wooden structure, has become a theater equipped with state-of-the-art technology. The attached café is open for non-movie goers as well so it’s an ideal spot to stop for a break on your stroll. Highly recommended is the cat-shaped French Toast, made with handmade bread from a local bakery!
CINEMA NEKO
CINEMA NEKO

CINEMA NEKO CINEMA NEKO
French Toast

CINEMA NEKO
https://cinema-neko.com/


Come discover your own meaning of “Retro” and “The Cat” through a leisurely stroll in the unique, nostalgic town of Ome.

Please check out the website for more information about Ome!
https://www.omekanko.gr.jp/

*The information herein is as of February 2022.


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writerAyumi

I am Ayumi from Chiba Prefecture. I love sweets. I majored in Japanese history in my university. I have visited many historic sites from the ancient days to the modern days on my trips. I have visited about 100 castles of various sizes. I am also obsessed with visiting “anime pilgrimage sites,” the locations featured in popular anime and manga.