The Yamanote train line (山手線) has been very popular among tourists for it has stops in the most popular tourist destinations in Tokyo (東京) such as Shibuya (渋谷), Shinjuku (新宿), Ueno (上野), Harajuku (原宿), Yoyogi (代々木), and Ikebukuro (池袋). However, people often ignore the fact that there is much to see in each station within the Yamanote train loop. Today, we’ll explore what Sugamo (巣鴨) and Komagome (駒込) has to offer.
Sugamo and Komagome are both located in Toshima-ku (豊島区). They are just two and three stations away, respectively, from Ikebukuro – one of Yamanote’s main station. Toshima has so much to offer and is indeed a family-friendly location. Here are five spots in Sugamo and Komagome that are worth the visit!
Near Sugamo Station, you can easily locate the Jizo Dori Shopping Street. This 800-meter-long street is labeled as the “old ladies’ Harajuku” for you will find relatively cheap clothes with vintage patterns and designs here. However, it does not mean that you can only buy clothes for grannies in this area. In fact, a lot of foreigners tend to shop here, especially those who enjoy mixing and matching fashion styles.
Aside from shopping, Jizo Dori is also an excellent place for food tripping. You will be able to eat cheap, unique, and delicious food in this area that will surely not hurt your pocket. Some of the unique street food here are ikayaki (イカ焼き) or grilled squid, okonomiyaki (お好み焼き) with unique flavors, sweet potatoes, and so on.
In the same area, you can also eat one of the best curries in Tokyo. Konaya’s (古奈屋) seasonal curry udon with fried sakura shrimp rice cakes and kujo onion is a very popular dish as you can get to enjoy the buttery taste of curry alongside fluffy and crispy rice cakes.
From Jizo Dori, you can also visit Koganji Temple, which is popular for Jizo Bodhisattva. It is said that if you pray in the temple and wash the Bodhisattva’s statue, your ailments will be healed. People tend to queue just to wash and wipe the said statue.
Aside from the temples and shrines within the Sugamo area, another interesting place to visit would be Toyo Bunko. It is a museum that houses rare books showcasing the tradition and culture of Japan.
If you cannot read Japanese, you need not worry for the book cover designs themselves already tell a lot about the culture. As a popular quote from medieval art history goes, “Book designs are artforms that reflect a culture.”
In the middle of Sugamo and Komagome Station, approximately 600 meters on foot from either of the two stations, you can see Rikugien Gardens. For a 300-yen entrance, you will be able to see a pond surrounded by man-made hills filled with flowers, shrubs, and trees. This garden, built around 1700 for the 5th Tokugawa shogun (徳川将軍), is definitely a wonderful place for a sip of tea and relaxation. The garden is open every day from 9:00 AM until 5:00 PM.
Lastly, after a long and tiring walking tour, the best thing to do to end your day is to relax in an onsen. In the middle of both stations, you will see Tokyo Somei Onsen SAKURA, or shortly known as Sakura Onsen. This onsen is open from 10:00 AM until 11:00 PM. The onsen definitely gives off a Japanese feeling from its interior to its exterior; and compared to other onsens in Tokyo, it is relatively cheap!
Both areas are not that popular among tourists, but they are definitely worth visiting with all these amazing places and attractions that range from shopping, nature, culture, and gastronomy!