Located in West Tokyo is an area called Koenji [高円寺[こうえんじ]] - a very cozy residential area filled with Shotengai. Shotengai [商店街[しょうてんがい]] are streets filled with shops which cater for the residents living nearby - restaurants, grocery stores, supermarkets, pharmacies, barbers, post offices, book stores, game centers and izakaya (pubs).
Areas like Ikebukuro, Shinjuku, Shibuya are not called Shotengai and are usually referred to as Hankagai [繁華街[はんかがい]]. Hankagai are usually located around major train stations in non-residential areas.
Koenji has a large population of young folks. There are many one room apartments/mansions and food and clothing is generally cheap. There are also many cheap second hand clothing stores and zakka (life style products) to be found.
Koenji is also where you can enjoy the Awa Odori [阿波踊り] festival which takes place every Summer - this year to take place on August 25th.
Koenji would be a great place to see a slice of life in Tokyo and you can get there by getting off at Koenji station [高円寺駅] on the JR Chuo line [中央線].
Spent sometime in Koenji which had so much to explore that we didn't manage to cover everything in the few hours we spent there. Most of the photos in this post are of the Shotengai around the station. I love looking at Japanese store fronts. I remember when I first came over to live - would learn Japanese just by looking at the hiragana, katakana and kanji on the store fronts.
Many folks say maids are not cute. Don't know what they are talking about.
Evening draws in on Koenji.
Many Shotengai are pedestrianized between certain hours to allow folks to go about their shopping without having to dodge cars.
This store buys your unwanted games and DVD's from you. This store says that they will pay generously for your stuff but I've come across a place which offered me 1 yen for a DVD!
What do you do with your unwanted media?
As you walk down a Shotengai, the amount of shops will gradually start to disappear and you will usually end up in a residential area.
Gee! now at 68 million views!
Yakiniku [焼き肉[やきにく]] is where you cook meat yourself on the hot plate or grill infront of you. Most Yakiniku places will have other Korean dishes available.
Notice the poster on the right with "AKB" - restaurants will usually show TV screencaps of famous folk who have been to their establishment - in this case, the AKB girls have previously been here for a TV shoot.
Some ice cream, whipped cream on waffle to wash everything down ^^