A thirty-minute train journey out from the centre of Tokyo will place you comfortably in Shibamata, throwing you back in time to the Edo period. The area largely consists of lower, more traditional Japanese style houses and shops. This becomes very obvious as soon as you step off the train at Shibamata station.
Firstly you'll need to get to the other side of the tracks so you can explore; to do this you find yourself waiting at one of those old style crossings where you actual walk across the tracks. Moving away from the station you're greeted by one of the more famous locals, Tora-san, in the form of a bronze statue. Tora-san is a famous character in the popular Japanese film series 'Otoko Wa Tsurai Yo' (It's Tough Being a Man) that ran from 1969 to 1995. Be sure to pause for a photo with, and say hi to Tora-san!
Next up you'll notice the candy shop 'Dagashiya', made easy to spot by its Coca-Cola transforming robot machine. Dagashiya is filled with all the candy you can imagine, as well as old coin operated games and pinball machines. This also marks the entrance to Taishakuten Sando, a street filled with shops selling hot snacks and just about anything you can think of. This street is more of the tunnel, channeling customers down towards the Shibamata Taishakuten Temple. The shops may be more traditional and low down, but they're very tightly packed, creating said tunnel effect. The most classic and popular snack down here is 'Dango', little dumplings often covered in a sweet soy sauce. You'll also see plenty of seafood nibbles, and some of the finest tempura around.
Towards the end of the shops, you see the impressive gated entrance to the Shibamata Taishakuten Temple. A temple filled to the brim with history and beauty. You can read about it and see photos here. Beyond the temple you can make your way towards the Edogawa River. The walk there takes you through the local houses. The absence of high-rise apartments creates a more peaceful neighborhood feel to the area.
Leaving the neighborhood and crossing up over the main road, you'll have a great-elevated view of the Edogawa River. There's a couple of options for you from here; you can rent a bike and cycle alongside the river on a path, enjoying the peaceful scenery and fresher air. Or, you can get a very small ferry across the river to explore the huge and impressive fields that are offered.
All in all, I loved Shibamata and it's traditional feel. It felt like the skyscrapers were a life away. Give yourself a good day to explore around here and enjoy some amazing food.
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