Sugamo (ĹâŐŤ) is a shopping district along Tokyo's Yamanote Line that famously caters to the elderly. The district's popular, 800 meter long Jizo Dori shopping street is also affectionately known as the "Old Ladies' Harajuku" in lighthearted comparison to the Harajuku district's status as one of Japan's foremost youthful shopping and fashion destinations.
The flat and handicap accessible shopping street is lined by over 200 shops that sell clothing, traditional food and other goods marketed toward the elderly. Among the most popular items is the district's signature red underwear, which comes in a variety of styles and is thought to bring luck to the wearer. Sugamo is also known for its traditional sweets, especially Shio-Daifuku, pounded rice cakes that contain sweet bean paste and salt to moderate the sweetness.
The original reason for Sugamo's popularity is found at Koganji Temple halfway down the shopping street. The small temple is home to the popular Arai Kannon statue which is thought to help heal ailments. People line up in a queue to wash the statue with small hand towels which they then press to their ailing body part in hope of relief. Sugamo becomes particularly lively on the 4th, 14th and 24th of every month when the temple holds a small festival.
The Jizo Dori shopping street begins a five minute walk northwest of Sugamo Station on the JR Yamanote and Mita Subway lines.
From Tokyo Station
Take the JR Yamanote Line and get off at Sugamo Station (20 minutes, 170 yen, frequent departures).
From Shinjuku Station
Take the JR Yamanote Line and get off at Sugamo Station (13 minutes, 170 yen, frequent departures).