Harajuku is great for any seasoned or upcoming cheapo planning a day out shopping. If the thrift shops and gift stores on Takeshita Street don’t keep you busy, then perhaps the oddities of Harajuku fashion will. You can see the Lolita goths and then after you’ve bought your t-shirt with the kanji for “samurai” on it, relax and take a break at Meiji Shrine. 

Harajuku is where you want to go if you want any kind of chance keeping up with the latest fashion trends in Tokyo and it’s the height of Japanese youth culture. Unfortunately, with youth culture comes the most detestable and wicked class of individuals known to man.

Sugamo Jizo-dori Shopping Street in Tokyo, Japan
Photo by iStock.com/winhorse

 Yes, teenagers. They suck and there are a lot of them. Anytime my girlfriend runs me to Harajuku, I drag my feet all along the way, bemoaning how every inch is wall-to-wall teens screaming about how everything is kawaii this or kawaii that. I mean I could list a hundred reasons why teenagers are terrible, but instead I’m going to talk about a place that is just like Harajuku, only more mature. In fact so much more mature that it’s often called “the Harajuku of old ladies.”

Suggested Activity
Go Karting with Cosplay through Asakusa & Akihabara (See Skytree)
Don your favourite video game or superhero outfit and drive go-karts through Asakusa and Akihabara — passing Tokyo Skytree! International driving license required.

Just a short walk away from Sugamo Station on the JR line is Jizo Dori shopping street, where you can find over 200 shops catering to the elderly. I know that may not sound like the most exciting thing in the world, but think about it. Who knits the warmest clothes for you? Your grandma. Who cooks the best food? Your grandma. And who manages to make all that awesome stuff with just her love? Yep. Grandma. Sugamo is like your grandma’s chocolate chip cookies in the form of a shopping district. Plus, I don’t know any other place that specializes in red underwear.

And just like Harajuku there is a temple you can visit. Koganji Temple isn’t as large as Meiji, but it is still very popular. Especially to the elderly who pray to Enmei Ksitigarbha for their aches. People also line up to rub the Bodhisattva with rags that they hope can be used to cure their ailments and pains. And if watching old ladies rub a deity down doesn’t do it for you, maybe you can find someone eating paper. Legend has it that a handmaid accidentally swallowed a needle and fixed herself up by eating a picture of Enmei Ksitigarbha. Unbeknownst to the handmaid, she started something of a trend because eating pictures of Enmei Ksitigarbha is the cool and happening thing to do at Koganji Temple.

Location:3 Sugamo, Toshima-ku, Tokyo.
Station:JR Sugamo Station.
Website:Koganji Temple
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