Discover New Aspects of Attractive Shinjuku: Kagurazaka
Shinjuku City is a big city located at the center of Tokyo—23 city. It has Shinjuku Station, the world’s busiest station, entertainment districts including the famous Kabukicho, skyscraper buildings in the Nishi-Shinjuku area, and one of the most prosperous commercial areas in Japan around the station, all of which attract visitors from all over the world. Meanwhile, simply by making a little side trip from Shinjuku Station, you can visit a town that has many diverse and distinctive aspects as well as experience Japan-style charms. Do you know of a certain place that still retrains the bustling atmosphere of Edo (old Tokyo)?
Kagurazaka Area: a town with Japanese styleAccess
12 min. from JR Shinjuku Sta. (get off at Iidabashi Sta. on the JR Sobu Line)
8 min. from Shinjuku-nishiguchi Sta. (get off at Ushigome-kagurazaka Sta. on the Toei Oedo Line)
After developing as an area with streets lined with samurai residences in the Edo period (1603-1867), Kagurazaka later became a town of merchants and craftsmen and prospered as an entertainment district, called hanamachi (geisha district). Walking through the area, you can still hear the sound of shamisen practice by geisha girls. Known as a town with slopes, stone-paved alleys, and black walls in a traditional atmosphere, Kagurazaka attracts many Japanese people. Its many charms find expression both in day and at night.
Kagurazaka is a place you can enjoy not only the townscape but also Japanese culture at festivals. In July, “Kagurazaka Matsuri” festival is held at which people enjoy Awa-odori dance. “Kagurazaka-Street Stage: O-edo Tour” in November offers people an opportunity to enjoy traditional performing arts all over the town.
Japanese Culture Found in KagurazakaZenkokuji (Bishamonten)
Going up the slope of Kagurazaka, you will see Zenkokuji (Bishamonten) which is a symbolic existence of Kagurazaka on your left. It has been popular with the area since about 200 years ago and has become the center of Kagurazaka.
Also notice that there is a guardian tiger instead of a guardian dog!
The Kagurazaka area has many opportunities to experience Japanese culture through food, various and sundry Japanese small items, and events.
Wagashi, Japanese confectionery, is a sophisticated work of elaboration made by the skills of professionals. There are many wagashi shops around Kagurazaka.
While strolling in Kagurazaka, you will feel lured into shops selling interesting and cute Japanese items. They are popular souvenirs from Japan.
Kagurazaka and a Literary FigureOne of Japan’s greatest literary figures, Natsume Soseki, wrote about Kagurazaka in some of his novels. He lived in Waseda, which is near Kagurazaka, and therefore often visited Kagurazaka. It is obvious that Kagurazaka has aspects that attracted this literary figure and made him want to write about it in his novels.
The house of Soseki in Waseda, where many of his novels were created, is now the “Natsume Soseki Memorial Museum.” In the museum, his study room has been reproduced and you can see various materials related to Soseki, such as drafts of his writings.
*The information herein is as of September 2018.