Sugamo is a neighborhood renowned for its main shopping street, named Jizo Dori, which some refer to as the Harajuku of elderly people. The most famous store of Sugamo specializes in red clothes. It is actually a Japanese tradition to offer a piece of red clothing to someone who turns 60 years old. The district is also home to the Koganji where pouring water over a special statue of Buddha can cure your ailments.
Sendai, the capital of Miyagi prefecture, is known for being a green city with lots of vegetation. For example, the city center has a long covered shopping arcade that is lined with small trees. The staple dish in Sendai is the gyutan (beef tongue). The grilled thin slices of gyutan are typically flavored with salt or sauce and the dish is well accompanied with a glass of cold Japanese beer.
Summer is the season of Japanese festivals, or Matsuri in Japanese. When visiting the neighbourhood of Okurayama in late summer, we were pleasantly surprised by the ongoing festivities of the Okurayama Matsuri. The local shrine’s Omikoshi (festival float) was being carried around in the streets by locals. In the evening, Yatai food stalls were lining up the street leading to the small local shrine. We ate choco bananas and got purified by a shinto priest at the shrine.
Many small restaurants serving Japanese delicacies such as Yakitori and Ramen line the small streets of Omoide Yokocho. It is a great place to enjoy simple but delicious Japanese food while drinking with friends in Shinjuku’s neighbourhood.
The Asakusa Culture Tourist information center is located in front of the famed Sensoji temple. The center, which provides visitors with plenty of information on the neighbourhood, is quite popular thanks to the free observatory located on the upper floor. From above, one can see well the main hall of Sensoji as well as Tokyo Skytree and Asahi’s golden poo.
Hoppy dori is a famous drinking street of Asakusa, located just west of Sensoji temple. Many drinking establishments and izakayas are located on that street which was once the meeting place of choice for those who wanted to gamble on horse racing. Hoppy is actually a drink made of a mix of a diluted beer-like soda and schochu. It was a popular beer alternative among gamblers in the days when beer was less affordable. Nowadays the street is popular among both locals and tourists visiting Asakusa.
Shibuya crossing is the busiest intersection of Japan. The area, thanks to the many restaurants and other forms of entertainments, attracts a large crowd. The place is also quite famous among foreigners, who like to take selfies and videos as they cross the intersection multiple times. What’s so special about this crossing is that when the predestrian signal turns white, you can cross in any direction and hundreds of people flood the intersection at the same time.
Yokohama’s Chinatown, one of the largest in the world, is renowned for its delicious Chinese restaurants and gift stores. Most of the Chinese who have immigrated to Yokohama were of Cantonese origin but the selection of food is quite diverse with dozens of restaurants packed in a relatively small area. The area is deserved by the Motomachi-Chūkagai Station of the Minatomirai line. Express trains link Shibuya station in Tokyo with Motomachi-Chūkagai in about 40 minutes. If you are looking to eat in Yokohama Chinatown, I recommend to try the dumplings at a restaurant with a large image of four chefs with golden hats and lots of medals around their necks. Their dumplings are apparently award-winning and I confirm they are delicious. They have many establishments withing Chinatown so it shouldn’t be too hard to find.
The Yokohama Ma Zhu Miao Temple, located in the chinatown of Yokohama, is dedicated to the Chinese sea goddess Mazu. It features a large colorful gate with vibrant green, blue and gold colors. The many lanterns linking the gate and the temple are illuminated at night.
A large ferris wheel, named Cosmo Clock 21, is located in the Minatomirai district, close to major attractions like the Landmark tower and the Akarenga. The wheel is especially noticeable at night thanks to the bright colorful lights installed on the wheel’s structure. The view of Yokohama it offers at the climax of the ride is amazing. Some special cabins have a transparent floor for a more thrilling experience. I suffer from vertigo so the regular cabin proved to be thrilling enough for me!