Friday, March 2, 2007

25. Sightseeing Spot Review: Shibamata (NE Tokyo)

Shibamata is an area of Tokyo made famous by the world's longest running film series, 'Otokowa tsuraiyo', which means 'It's tough being a man'. The 48 films, made between 1968 and 1996, revolved around a main character called 'Tora-san', who was from Shibamata.
The popularity of the films made Shibamata a Japanese tourist destination. The area has a very traditional feel, especially because the Taishakuten Sando (path) leading from the station has changed very little. Shops and restaurants selling kusa-dango (herbal rice cakes), unagi (eel), and other traditional favorites line both sides of the path.
At the end of the street is a famous Nichiren Buddhist Temple called 'Taishakuten', which is over 300 years old. For 400 yen, visitors can view beautiful temple wood carvings depicting scenes from the Lotus Sutra, and can stroll through the Suikeien Garden. Open from 9:00 - 16:00.
Shibamata lies right beside the Edogawa River. Yagiri no Watashibune, the only remaining manually operated ferry service in Tokyo, is located here in a riverside park. It was established in the beginning of the 17th century for farmers to get to their fields on the other side of the river. It can still be ridden for a mere 100 yen one way (50 yen for children). Rental bicycles are also available on weekends from 9:00 - 16:00, adults 400 yen, children 200 yen.
Across from the riverside park is also the Yamamoto-Tei, a semi-Western building built in the beginning of the 20th century. It can be toured for 100 yen, and visitors can also purchase tea and traditional sweets to enjoy while relaxing on tatami overlooking a lovely garden. Closed every 3rd Tuesday.

Also in Shibamata: Tora-san Museum, Shibamata Shichi Fukujin (7 Gods of Good Fortune),...

Shibamata is located in Katsushika-ku (ward), in NE Tokyo. The border with Matsudo City, Chiba, is just across the river.

We drove there, although parking was hard to find. The easiest way there is by train. From Nippori, on the Yamanote Line, take the Keisei Line limited express to Keisei Takasago (11 minutes). Change to the Keisei Kanamachi Line and get off at Shibamata (3 minutes). From Nippori to Shibamata costs 250 yen.

Shibamata is a great day trip when the weather is nice. Combine traditional sightseeing with a riverside picnic (or bicycle ride) for a perfect day!

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