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3 Reasons Why Travelers Should Come to the Kagurazaka Shopping District

The Kagurazaka shopping district offers not only a unique shopping experience but also opportunities for meaningful interactions with locals.


Japanese shopping streets, known as "Shotengai," are attractive spaces that offer foreign tourists not just shopping experiences but also opportunities for communication with locals. These shopping streets are lined with small, family-owned shops that have been passed down through generations, offering a wide range of products, including fresh produce, tea, sweets, modern fashion, and unique souvenirs that can be enjoyed by people of all ages. For foreign tourists, these shopping streets provide a glimpse into the daily lives of local residents and an opportunity to experience the warmth and hospitality of the local community.


Japanese shopping streets are a collection of "specialty stores," unlike large supermarkets that tend to be uniform and impersonal. Each Shotengai reflects the local character and the individuality of each shop owner. The small size of these shops fosters interaction and conversation with shop owners and staff, making visits a special experience for tourists. Particularly for foreign travelers who value communication with local residents, these shopping streets are ideal destinations.


However, many shopping streets are declining due to aging populations and suburbanization brought about by motorization. According to the "Survey Report on the Actual Conditions of Shopping Streets" by the Small and Medium Enterprise Agency (March 2016), many shopping streets face these challenges. Despite this, Kagurazaka, which was the first place in Japan to introduce a pedestrian paradise, still offers an environment conducive to shopping while walking and remains vibrant every day.


3 Reasons Why Travelers Should Come to the Kagurazaka Shopping District


3 Reasons Why Travelers Should Come to the Kagurazaka Shopping District


Kagurazaka is a special place for foreign tourists to enjoy unique shopping and communication experiences. This area is home to authentic Japanese shopping streets that have not been overly commercialized, allowing visitors to fully enjoy the local atmosphere. Below, we will explain three reasons why travelers should visit the Kagurazaka shopping district.


1. Abundance of Shops and Diversity


Kagurazaka boasts the highest concentration of shops in Shinjuku Ward. According to the "Survey on Creating Vibrancy in Shopping Streets" by Shinjuku Ward (March 2015), the Kagurazaka area has an average of 93 shops per shopping association, significantly exceeding the Shinjuku Ward average of 48 shops, making it the number one shopping area in the ward. This means that Kagurazaka offers a fantastic place for foreign visitors to enjoy a diverse shopping experience.


The average number of stores per shopping district (Shinjuku Ward)


3 Reasons Why Travelers Should Come to the Kagurazaka Shopping District

Source: Survey on Creating Vibrancy in Shopping Streets" by Shinjuku Ward (March 2015)


The Kagurazaka-dori Shopping Association has about 300 shops, and the Kagurazaka Shopping Promotion Association has about 160 shops participating. These two large shopping streets create a massive shopping area with hundreds of shops in the Kagurazaka district. To give you an idea, I have attached maps of these two shopping streets. There are so many shops that the names are difficult to read even when printed on A3 paper. Considering that only 5% of shopping streets in Japan have over 150 shops, Kagurazaka is indeed a special place.


Kagurazaka Shopping Street Maps

3 Reasons Why Travelers Should Come to the Kagurazaka Shopping District
3 Reasons Why Travelers Should Come to the Kagurazaka Shopping District



The average number of stores per shopping district (All Japan)


3 Reasons Why Travelers Should Come to the Kagurazaka Shopping District

Source: Small and Medium Enterprise Agency, "Shopping Street Survey Report (2016)"



2. Historic Shops Over 100 Years Old


Kagurazaka's shopping streets are also characterized by the presence of many historic shops. This is because Kagurazaka has been a thriving area for about 400 years since the early Edo period. As I have mentioned in my blog many times, Kagurazaka was established in 1636 as the road for the third shogun, Tokugawa Iemitsu.


Somaya, a stationery store, was founded in 1659, 23 years after Kagurazaka was established, originally as a paper-making business. Somaya is a long-established store that supplied paper to the Edo shogunate and the imperial family. It was also loved by literary figures such as Natsume Soseki, Kitahara Hakushu, Ishikawa Takuboku, and Tsubouchi Shoyo.


3 Reasons Why Travelers Should Come to the Kagurazaka Shopping District

Other notable historic shops include Yamadaya, an umbrella and hat shop founded in 1877, and Maruoka Tohyuen, a pottery shop founded in 1892. Additionally, there are many shops founded over 100 years ago, such as Suke Roku (footwear, bags, and umbrellas) founded in 1910, Sawaya, a cosmetics store founded in 1915, and La Palette, a beauty salon founded in 1922.


3 Reasons Why Travelers Should Come to the Kagurazaka Shopping District

3 Reasons Why Travelers Should Come to the Kagurazaka Shopping District

In terms of restaurants, there are many long-established places, such as Shimakin, founded in 1869; Okinaan, a soba restaurant founded in 1884; and Ryukotei, a Chinese restaurant founded in 1889. There are also long-established wagashi (Japanese sweets) shops such as Baikatei, founded in 1935, and Gokashitsu Isuzu, founded in 1946.


3 Reasons Why Travelers Should Come to the Kagurazaka Shopping District

3 Reasons Why Travelers Should Come to the Kagurazaka Shopping District


3. Unique Local Products


Kagurazaka's shopping streets are home to a variety of unique local products, including local produce, traditional crafts, and original items that you won't find in other tourist destinations. For example, you can find traditional Japanese sweets, handmade pottery, and Japanese-style accessories that are unique to this area.


3 Reasons Why Travelers Should Come to the Kagurazaka Shopping District

Small local shops take great pride in their products, and interacting with the shop owners allows visitors to learn about the history and craftsmanship behind each item. This offers a special experience that goes beyond mere shopping, providing a deeper connection to Japanese culture and craftsmanship.


According to the Japan Tourism Agency's 2019 "Survey on the Improvement of Reception Environment for Foreign Visitors," the second most common issue faced by travelers was "difficulty communicating with staff at facilities." I believe this reflects not only language barriers but also a sense of loneliness from not having the opportunity to interact with Japanese people. Foreign tourists visit Japan's shopping streets. Especially in the vibrant Kagurazaka shopping district, you will have conversations with shop owners and staff, creating unforgettable memories during your trip to Japan.


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How to Access Kagurazaka


The Kagurazaka area is conveniently located within 30 minutes from any major station in Tokyo. This is because Kagurazaka is situated in the heart of Tokyo, at the center of the Yamanote Line. Please come and visit this convenient and charming Kagurazaka.



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