We have decided to start a blog on our website, one that would keep visitors to Japan informed about the traditional culture they can experience here. Especially if it`s your first time coming to this country, Japan and above all Tokyo, can be very confusing. One of the largest cities in the world (or, rather, one of the most densely populated) it can seem like a maze at first.
This aspect, however, is also what makes Tokyo one of the most fascinating places on the planet. Different districts seem more like different cities, and you can spend days exploring them one by one. There is a merit in going to places that are not usually frequented by tourists and travellers. Take for example Sugamo. Located on the JR Yamanote Line, the most convenient public transport in Tokyo (it forms a circle through the city centre, meaning you cannot get lost when you take it) it`s branded as "Harajuku for elderly people." Harajuku is a different district, one located near the Meiji Jingu shrine (coincidentally close to our headquarters) and it`s famous for being a fashion place where young people go shopping and spend their free time in the local coffee shops.
Sugamo is like that, but for older people. It`s full of shops selling Japanese tea and traditional snacks (o-senbei, rice crackers usually glazed with soy sauce), as well as those selling red underwear (in Japan it`s traditionally believed that red colour brings good fortune and health, meaning that red underwear should keep you healthy and full of energy). Its main street is called "Jizodori" (地蔵通り）、or a "Jizo street" in English, where "Jizo" means a bodhisattva statue, a common sight in the country. In the middle of it, a Buddhist temple stands, famous for its Kannon statue (a goddess of mercy in Buddhism), that you can wash using the nearby water in exchange for good fortune.
Furthermore, a "Rikugien garden" is located nearby, one of the most serene places in the city, frequented especially in the Spring and Autumn (with blooming cherry trees and coloured leafs). The garden itself is quite large and should you choose to explore it, several hours spent there are recommended. You can drink matcha (traditional green tea in a powder form, used in Japanese tea ceremony) in a tea house inside while admiring the scenery. All in all, it makes for a well-spent day and is but one showcase of an interesting location in Tokyo, one that is not as overcrowded as Asakusa or other tourist locations. Stay tuned for other tips regarding travelling in Japan!