Quiet Afternoon in Togoshi, Tokyo
The Miyakawa Shotengai [ Shopping Street ]
Earlier this year, I found myself puzzling over what I could fit in my short 1.5 day stopover in Tokyo. Having already been to the East Capital 3 times, and having spent one week each of those times. You might think I would have "done it all". Quite the opposite, I was struggling to fit all the things I wanted to see. Certainly there are spots that are very commercialised with tall skyscrapers and office buildings that look the same being packed next to each other. But this city is also very "lived in", you could always find a spot of quietness away from the bustling crossroads.
Okomeya - A Rice Shop
A memory jogs to mind. Back a few years ago I had read about the renovation of a rice shop built with the local communities in mind. Located on a once lively shopping street, today only a handful remain. The owner chose to inject new life into a shut down vegetable shop of mere 16 square meters. Stripping back walls to reveal its original basic wooden frame, while adding minimal display counter to form an open, and welcoming shop front. I had loved the passiveness of this new business. No neon signs, no colourful banners, it stands in harmony with the store's past lives. Okomeya quietly integrates into the local community. With only one staff tending to the shop, neighbours are asked to help keep an eye when staff is away for short moments. Just picturing this scene gives me a warm feeling.
Okemeya served as the starting point for my local exploration. Followed by a string of small, local and well designed places that aspire to similar philosophy to enliven the local area.
BRING: a book, and your appetite for small eats
Walking Route Starts.
Stop 1: Okomeya < Map >
Grab one of the freshly made Onigiri [ rice balls ] for a snack, or if you're feeling particularly hungry. Go for the 800 Yen Don [ rice bowl with topping ].
Walk north 30 meters you will come to Mr. Coffee on your left. By the same owner as Okomeya, stock up your beans here. Or just stock up on the lovely aroma. Done politely, of course.
Stop 2: Spread It < Map >
Walk another 50 meters, Spread It will be on your left. If you are more of sandwich fan over rice bowls. Get your freshly made order here at around 400 Yen.
Stop 3: Husky Gelato < Map >
Another 50 meters. Having walked 130m so far, an order of ice cream may seem a little indulging. But hey, you are on holiday. Indulge a little. Complete the dessert course of your lunch set here.
Stop 4: Togoshi Hachiman Shrine < Map >
200 meters ahead. Turn right into the little alley way on your right. Forget what you think you know about Shines learnt from visiting the Meiji Shrine or Senso-Ji in Asakusa. You will not find any tourist groups accompanying you here, just quietness and calmness. Like many other family run shines in Japan. Togoshi Hachiman Shrines serves the local people, many have been visiting for decades. I also received one of the friendliest service here. While waiting for my red seal, I was invited to take a seat while tea and sweets was offered to me. The personal touch and authentic experience made this shine visit one of the most memorable.
Final Stop: Pedra Branca < Map >
Here is where you make use of that book. Relaxing on its comfortable sofa chairs, reading while sipping coffee roasted by Mr. Coffee is a great way to spend couple of hours on a quiet weekday afternoon. The interior is simple, using mostly vintage furniture and reclaimed wood. Against the backdrop of original features like the woodwork and stained glass windows. It's very easy to feel relaxed and home here.
Walking Route Ends. But the inspiration have just started. Seeing the way of simple life, surrounding and supporting a local community has certainly made me reflect more on my lifestyle choices.
Photographs and Words by: Tina, Silent Blooms team