A Short Trip in Tokyo - Musashi Koyama Shoutengai, Togoshi Ginza

Trinh T.Q.Teresa

This short trip was organised for the interns to visit two of Tokyo’s famous shopping streets.

Upon exiting Musashi Koyama Station and after a 5-minute walk we came to arrive at Tokyo Toritsu Koyamadai Koutou Gakkou (Koyamadai) – a Japanese public high school. Unfortunately due to some construction on the school grounds at the time, it was difficult to have a clear view of the high school’s buildings and sporting area. However, glimpses of the school’s white buildings and wide empty sports ground made me remember my own high school and how it would be nice to become a student once again. Though maybe for only just one day!

After our quick visit to Koyamadai high school, we walked to the shopping arcade called Musashi Koyama Shoutengai. Whilst walking towards the shopping arcade, I was quite surprised by the lack of people around in the area. Since becoming used to the mass of people in Tokyo, being able to walk at a leisurely pace without having to push through a crowd was a real pleasure.

Approaching Musashi Koyama Shoutengai, the smell of delicious food wafted towards us through the air. Upon arriving at the entrance many little eateries with store workers cooking various foods such as yakitori, gyouza etc could be seen.

From the entrance, Musashi Koyama Shoutengai was split into two arcade tunnels, each covered by a high glass ceiling. A fair amount of people was shopping within the arcade but not enough to make it seem overly crowded. Whilst first exploring the right hand sided tunnel, there was an abundance of various stores such as 100 yen stores, pharmacies, fruit and vegetable stores, flower shops, Japanese novelty items stores, game centers, restaurants, cafes, specialty food stores etc.

The left tunnel of the arcade, which was explored much more extensively than the right, was seen to also have a similar array of shops as well. The prices of the items for sale were also a little surprising. Everything from everyday goods, various different foods, electrical appliances, flowers, fruits and vegetables, pharmacy items etc. was cheaper than what I had previously seen in Tokyo supermarkets, which made it quite tempting to want to buy a fair few things to take home!

The extensive range of stores available with reasonably priced goods made it obvious that the arcade would be a very convenient and economical place to shop. Especially for the locals.

From Musashi Koyama Shoutengai, we made our way to the famous outdoor shopping street called Togoshi Ginza. Musashi Koyoma Shoutengai had a nice atmosphere to it, but Togoshi Ginza somehow felt much more genuine.

A nondescript silver sign located along a street marked Togoshi Ginza’s start. There was nothing significant about the sign that indicated there would be a more than 1 kilometre long outdoor shopping street nearby.

During our walk at the beginning of Togoshi Ginza, it was fairly quiet for not many people were seen to be shopping. However, as we moved towards the centre of the street the atmosphere became much livelier. It was an enjoyable experience to walk along Togoshi Ginza at an unhurried pace and to be able to view the myriad of different things it had to offer. As with Musashi Koyama Shoutengai, there were numerous stores selling fruit and vegetables, traditional Japanese sweets and rice crackers, flowers, meats, fresh fish and so forth. There were also many pharmacies, small boutique like clothes stores, barbers, beauty salons and restaurants as well.

Nearer to the end of the street we came across a quaint store selling nothing but milk. The lady store owner was standing outside her shop, selling small glass bottles of plain and flavoured milk that were being chilled in a crates filled with ice. I was a little surprised to find a store specialising in selling milk only. Milk to me was always chilled in a fridge and is usually always sold at a supermarket or various food vending places.

Also located along the sides of the Togoshi Ginza were green metal street lamps that looked somewhat dated, which only added to the street’s genuine feel. The many outdoor audio speakers also continuously played an array of classical music for the enjoyment of the shoppers as well.

Furthermore, the sight of the old Togoshi Ginza station and railway line that ran through one part of the shopping street enhanced the overall aged atmosphere of the area. All of these elements coupled together made one forget that this place was actually in the city of Tokyo!

Having the opportunity in visiting both shopping streets provided an insight into one of the many different shopping experiences available in Tokyo. In comparison to the usual hustle and bustle when shopping at a supermarket or department store, the arcade and outdoor street shopping experience is seemingly done at a more leisurely pace, is much more interesting and also lots of fun.
A diverse selection of reasonably priced goods located in an area that is less crowded than the usual everyday shopping centre, makes the shopping arcade Musashi Koyama Shoutengai and outdoor shopping street Togoshi Ginza worthwhile places to visit.

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