Shibamata is a small town in Edogawa. It may not be that popular for foreign tourists but for locals, it is a must-visit place. Last Monday was Sports Day here in Japan. And because the weather was great, my husband and I decided to go for a bike ride.
Biking along canals and riversides was fun and at the same time feels like ATV race. Nice scenery but a bit bumpy ride.
On our way to Shibamata, we made a brief stop at Zenyoji Temple. It is still early for their Kiku (Chrysanthemum) festival. However, we were lucky to see some of the flower displays as they prepare them.
We also enjoyed the majestic Yougou Pine which is about 600 years old. At present, it holds its title as Japan’s largest foliage area of any tree.
From Zenyoji, we biked for about 30 minutes more to reach our final destination.
Shitamachi Experience in Shibamata
The word shitamachi is a combination of “shita” (down) and “machi” (town). However it is quite different from the western concept of downtown – business and commercial center. Shitamachi is a place where common people live. During the Edo period, such places became the preferred residence of artisans and merchants. Unlike most visitors, we started our exploration from the riverside down to the shopping street. From the map we found online, the points of interest seem to be wide to cover. But to our surprise, the places are just less than five minutes away from each other. We first went to see Yagiri-no-watashi which is the only remaining ferry landing since Edo period. It was also a favorite location for some classic Japanese movies.
Just across is Katsushika Shibamata Tora Museum. But since we are not familiar with Japanese classic films and actors, we went to the nearby Yamamoto-tei. It was a former of Einosuke Yamamoto, owner of Yamamoto Plant maker of camera parts. The main house is a great combination of traditional Japanese and western architecture. Inside, visitors can enjoy the garden while having a nice cup of green tea.
Admiring Classic Japanese Architecture
Just a few minutes away by foot or bike from Yamamote-tei is Taishakuten Daikyoji Temple. A beautifully-carved wooden gate and a big pine tree in front of the main hall welcome the guests. The wooden carvings surrounding the prayer hall is a must-see. And with a small fee, one can also enjoy the serenity of the temple’s inner garden.
Time was unnoticeable while we were at the temple. But since it was about to get dark, we half-heartedly moved on with our exploration. Just outside the temple is a narrow street filled with shops selling sweets and souvenirs. We first made our walk down towards Shibamata station letting our eyes enjoy the sight. Then on our way back to the temple, we tried the town’s classic odango or Japanese mochi dumpling.
On our way back, we enjoyed a quick stop to admire the cosmos flowers and the marina.