While Tokyo is known for – and loved – for its hustle and bustle, its never-ending energy and its high-end shopping and dining options, some might say there is more charm to be found in the local shopping streets. Called shotengai, these traditional lanes can usually be found near train stations and are filled with mom and pop shops, friendly eateries and quirky boutiques.
In Shinagawa there are 104 shotengai in total, each of which has its own unique personality. The old-school buildings make a striking contrast to the surrounding business district, and will remind you that there’s more to Tokyo than suits, trains and robots.
There are many local establishments to see at Shinagawa’s shotengai, including cafés serving Japan’s most celebrated foods and sweets, shops selling traditional souvenirs and crafts and places offering a rejuvenating escape. Here is just a handful worth checking out.
Chinese Restaurant Ajimaru
Rich in a variety of popular ramen styles and more, this restaurant offers Chinese food with a difference. Ingredients are selected with utmost care to bring forth flavorful umami-filled soup bases that are Ajimaru’s pride and joy. Aside from ramen, there are many other specialties, including mouthwatering fried rice and jumbo-sized gyoza. True ramen lovers will know to eat all three together to balance the flavors. Sit at the counter for a front row seat to see veteran chefs in action in the kitchen while you wait for your food. Menus feature photos to simplify the ordering process. ///tiles.clocked.spill
KAIDO books & coffee
This antiquarian bookseller along Kyu-tokaido street in Kitashinagawa has approximately 10,000 books on-hand and offers refreshing coffee, in addition to herb tea, black tea and smoothies. On top of that, all beers are only ¥500. An English menu is available, and the hot dog is the staff’s recommendation. There is also a nice selection of desserts including tiramisu and scones. Due to its convenient location to Shinagawa’s hotels and guest houses, the quaint café draws in international travelers, but is also popular with the locals. Added bonus: it is pet friendly. ///wisdom.lure.spun
Kato Goro Shoten
This cute shop in Minamishinagawa will remind visitors of the select souvenir stores of Asakusa. The quirky shop specializes in Japanese ceramics and pottery and visitors can find a variety of Japanese dishwares and goods. Animal lovers in particular will be able to find the perfect souvenir, as many of the ceramics on offer are fashioned with adorable animal motifs. There are also plenty of stylish and sophisticated goods on offer as well. Visitors from foreign countries are most welcome here. ///graced.imitate.crafted
Shinagawa Historical Museum
During the Edo Era, Shinagawa was the first post station along the Tokaido Road – the highway between Tokyo and Kyoto. The historic traditions can still be seen along the winding, local roads that makeup today’s shotengai. The Shinagawa Historical Museum was established by Shinagawa district to preserve local culture and heritage. With an inexpensive admission fee, enjoy learning Shinagawa history through models and pottery puzzles and take a walk inside a garden and listen to the traditional sound ornament, sui-kin-kutsu, blend with the sound of water. ///lucky.pounding.honey
Handmade 100% Soba Kyoto
For a traditional soba experience in a warm and inviting setting, look no further. Kitted out with wodden tables and decorations, Kyoto offers a warm and cozy atmosphere to enjoy your meal. Here you’ll find soba made from scratch. Chefs use an electric stone grinder to grind soba seeds into fine powder at night, and finish making the soba noodles the next morning. You can observe the chefs as they chop the noodles rhythmically by hand. The delicacy is served with a variety of delicious side dishes made from carefully selected ingredients, included wasabi sourced from a designated farmer. The soba and tempura combo is prepared with fresh seasonal vegetables or seafood. Also be sure to check out the sake menu – all sake is personally selected by the restaurant owner. ///gained.flushed.cutback
With water sourced solely from underground, this was the first sento (public bathhouse) in Tokyo to promote the health benefits of public bathing. Located in the Shinagawa neighborhood of Hatanodai, the facility offers high-concentrated carbonate springs, a sauna with rock salt, a cave bath and an open-air “rotenburo” bath. You can also exercise in a running pool for fitness. In addition to providing physical and mental healing, Bathhouse Shinseiyu actively promotes information about the local area. ///lifters.quietly.gifted
Find more information about Shinagawa’s shotengai at hyperurl.co/TWShinagawaShotengai