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1. Ueno Ameyoko Shotengai

Photo by Dick Thomas Johnson on Flickr

Known to locals simple as “Ameyoko,” this shotengai runs between JR Ueno and Okachimachi stations. It is visited by many international tourists and during the New Year’s holidays, it is so popular that limits are placed on the number of entrants.

The railways underpass is divided into two avenues, Ameyoko and Uechu. Here you will find sports equipment, makeup, fruit, seafood, and a host of other goods at cut rate prices.

Photo by Hikosaemon on Flickr

Ameyoko as seen from Okachimachi Station. The first thing that hits your eye is the Uniqlo outlet. There are many chain stores on the avenue, so you can get some real shopping done in addition to the cultural experience.

Access: Ueno Station, all train lines; Two minute walk from JR Okachimachi Station

Address:  6-10-7 Ueno, Ameyoko Plaza-nai, Taito-ku, Tokyo  (Google Map)

HP: www.ameyoko.net/ (Japanese Only)

2. Yanaka Ginza Shotengai

Photo by Toomore Chiang on Flickr

This shotengai has a wonderful old-fashioned atmosphere that has made it a common setting for movies and TV dramas, as well as a popular tourist spot. Walk five minutes from Nippori Station and you’ll reach “Yuyake Dandan” (Sunset Stairway), a slope of steps that offers a great view of the sunset. Descend the stairs and you’ll reach the shotengai.

Photo by TAKA@P.P.R.S on Flickr

At 170 meters, it’s a fairly short avenue but is packed with approximately 70 different stores.

Photo by  *_* on Flickr

This shotengai is also famous for the many cats that can be found walking the area. They are a very cute and comforting sight.

[About Yanaka Ginza Shotengai]

Access: Five minute walk from the west exit of Nippori Station, JR Yamanote Line

Address: 3-13-1 Yanaka, Taito-ku, Tokyo  (Google Map)

HP: www.yanakaginza.com/ (Japanese Only)

3. Sugamo Jizo-dori Shotengai

Photo by  yoppy on Flickr

Known as “Harajuku for the elderly,” this shotengai is frequently visited by seniors, giving it a comfortably leisurely pace. 

Photo by  dimitris.argyris on Flickr

With many of the shops carrying daily necessities, the avenue fulfills its mission as a center of trade, but it is also home to two temples and is visited frequently by worshipers.

ja.wikipedia.org

In particular, Koganji Temple is famous as the site of a Togenuki Jizo Buddha statue. Though the actual statue is a sacred object and unavailable for viewing, the temple hands out painted depictions of the artifact on washi paper and they are said to have healing powers when placed on parts of the body with aches and pains. There is also a washable Kannon statue, where visitors can pour water for similar healing benefits.

[About Sugamo Jizo-dori Shotengai]

Access: 5 minute walk from JR Sugamo Station

Address: 4-22-8 Sugamo, Teshima-ku, Tokyo (Google Map)

HP: sugamo.or.jp/ (Japanese Only)

4. Asagaya Pearl Center

Photo by keiichi.yasu on Flickr

This shotengai is approx. 700 meters long with over 240 stores and a roofed arcade to protect it from the rain. The roof is designed to resemble an Akoya Pearl Oyster.

Photo by  skyseeker on Flickr

Every year in August, the street plays host to the 7-day Tanabata Matsuri (Star Festival). It’s said to be one of the three biggest tanabata festivals in Japan and is seen yearly by over 500 thousand visitors. 

Running parallel to the Pearl Center is Nakasugi-doori, a road that leads from Asagaya Station to Minami Asagaya and is famous for its many zelkova trees. If you grow tired of shopping, head there to be refreshed by the beautiful natural greenery.

[About Asagaya Pearl Center]

Access:  Immediate upon exhibiting JR Asagaya station; 2 minute walk from Minami Asagays Subway Station, Marunoichi Line. 

Address: 1-36-10 Asagaya Minami, Suginami-ku, Tokyo (Google Map)

HP: www.asagaya.or.jp/ (Japanese Only)

5. Musashi Koyama Shotengai Palm

The first covered arcade shopping street in Japan, this shotengai is known as “The Arcade of the East.” It was 480 meters long when first opened but has since grown to a total of 800 meters. 

Photo by  yoppy on Flickr

Since the street was expanded mid-life, the arcade covering ends half-way through, but the stores continue on and on.

The shotengai has received a lot of media coverage over the years, particularly surrounding the store Ousama to Strawberry (“The King and Strawberries”). The store’s 60 cm tall King Parfait is famously large and impossible to eat alone. Make sure you take the challenge with a friend. 

[About Musashi Koyama Shotengai Palm]

Access: Three minute walk from Musashi Koyama Station, East Exit

Address: 3-23-5 Koyama, Shinagawa-ku, Tokyo (Google Map)

HP: www.musashikoyama-palm.com/ (Japanese Only)

6. Joyful Minowa

Joyful Minowa is a shotengai with a retro atmosphere that feels like time has stopped. It is located just outside of Minogawa Station and accessed by turning left down a thin alleyway that opens into a bright, spacious shopping street. 

Photo by  極地狐 on Flickr

A covered shopping arcade is always a blessing when it rains. In addition, the old-fashioned atmosphere and low prices will make you feel as if you’ve gone back in time. 

Photo by  kikuchiyo_0714 on Flickr

To get to the shotengai, you’ll need to take a ride on Tokyo’s last remaining street car. Riding on this gentle train in the middle of a bustling city like Tokyo is an experience in and of itself. 

[About Joyful Minowa ]

Access: 2 minute walk from Minowabashi Station, Toden Arakawa Line

Address: 1-19-1 Minami-senju, Arakawa-ku, Tokyo (Google Map)

HP: www.joyfulminowa.com/index.asp (Japanese Only)

7. Koenji Junjo Shotengai

This shotengai was once known as Koenji Ginza Shotengai, but after being used as the setting for a Naoki Prize-winning novel entitled “Koenji Junjo Shotengai,” the name was changed to match the novel. 

Upon exiting the station, you’ll see a large arch, around which stand as many as 250 stores. 

Photo by  ajari on Flickr

Every year, on August 26, 27 and 28, the shotengai is host to the famous Tokyo Awa Odori dance festival. The Awa Odori began in Tokushima but has since spread across Japan. Anyone is welcome to join and it’s a great way to experience traditional Japanese culture. 

[About Koenji Junjo Shotengai]

Access: 2 minute walk from JR Koenji Station, North Exit

Address: 2-7-13 Koenjikita, Suginami-ku, Tokyo  (Google Map)

HP: www.kouenji.or.jp/ (Japanese Only)

8. Nakano Sun Mall Shotengai

Fittingly named, the 224 meter Nakano Sun Mall is marked by a large and cute sign depicting the sun on its ceiling. There are approximately 110 stores inside. 

Photo by  Richard, enjoy my life! on Flickr

If you proceed down the shotengai, you’ll eventually reach the Nakano Broadway shopping mall. With four floors and an underground promenade, the mall is full of shops dedicated to subculture and is well loved by otaku. 

Photo by  Richard, enjoy my life! on Flickr0

Second only to Akihabara, Nakano is one of Tokyo’s best spots for subculture. Many performers and television personalities also live nearby, so you never know who you might meet.

[About Nakano Sun Mall Shotengai]

Access:  One minute walk from JR Nakano Station

Address: 5-67-1 Nakano, Nakano-ku, Tokyo (Google Map)

HP: www.heart-beat-nakano.com/street/48.html (Japanese Only)

9. Tokyo Kappabashi Shotengai

The largest of its kind in Japan, this street of cooking utensils is also called the “Kappabashi Doguyasuji.” Visit here to find 170 shops selling tools for cooking and food preparation. Food samples are available as well. You’ll know you’re in the right place when you see the building with a large drawing of a cook on top. 

Photo by othree on Flickr

You’ll find many thin shopping alleys branching off from the main avenue. Particularly popular are the shops selling Japanese knives. They are very high quality and a frequent purchase for international visitors as well. You might also find other varieties of tools you’ve never encountered before.

Photo by  JaggyBoss on Flickr

Fitting for a street with the word “kappa” in its name, you’ll see many art objects depicting the mythological Japanese creature, the kappa, along the road. How many can you find?

[About Tokyo Kappabashi Shotengai]

Access: 15 minute walk from JR Ueno Station; five minute walk from Tokyo Metro Tawaramachi Station 

Address: 3-18-2 Matsugaya, Taito-ku, Tokyo  (Google Map)

HP: www.kappabashi.or.jp/en/index.html

HP: www.kappabashi.or.jp/cn/index.html (中文)

HP: www.kappabashi.or.jp/ (Japanese)

10. Togoshiginza Shotengai

Photo by t.ohashi on Flickr

This 1.3 km shopping street is said to be the longest in the Kanto area. The name is taken from its likeness to Japan’s high class Ginza Area. 

The shotengai is divided into three zones, with the area around Togoshi Station being the center. The northern end of the street is called the “Shoeikai zone” and the southern end is known as the “Ginroku-kai zone.” Each area is divided by colored flags, with the center being blue, Shoei green, and the Ginroku-kai yellow.

This is one area of Tokyo where you don’t have to think twice about eating while walking. The surrounding stores carry an abundance of finger-foods like croquettes, dango dumplings, oden, and shaved ice.

[About Togoshi Ginza Shotengai]

Access: Immediate upon exiting Togoshi-Ginza Station, Tokyu Ikegami Line; Immediate upon exiting Togo Station, Toei Asakusa Line

Address: 1-5-16 Togo, Shinagawa-ku, Tokyo (Google Map)

HP: www.togoshiginza.jp/ (Japanese Only)

Shotengai are a great place to take a stroll, enjoy a meal while walking and stop by whatever shops happen to catch your eye. You can dig for hidden treasure or enjoy yourself in countless other ways. They are also popular with locals, in addition to tourists, and a great way to experience everyday life in Tokyo.

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