Sumida-ku and the remnants of Tokyo from Edo to Showa

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Sumida-ku and the remnants of Tokyo from Edo to Showa

Sumida-ku upholds aspects of traditional Japanese culture as represented by the Sumida River Fireworks Festival and the Ryogoku Kokugikan sumo arena. Here we introduce the Mukojima Hanamachi geisha district and two shopping streets not far from TOKYO SKYTREE. In each spot lingers the trace of Japan’s history from the good old Edo and Showa periods.

Mukojima Hanamachi—an attraction since the Edo period

Geigi entertainers, more commonly known as geisha, who provide hospitality and add zest to parties with their performance, are women knowledgeable in Japanese tradition and culture ranging from classic zashiki-asobi games to buyo dance. In the past, Tokyo had many hanamachi “flower districts” home to a number of geisha houses, to which every geisha belongs. Now fewer than 10 remain. Mukojima Hanamachi is one of them, and one of the largest. It currently operates 18 ryotei restaurants and employs some 120 geisha. Services have become much more accessible, as charges


Two shopping streets loved by locals

Sumida-ku largely escaped the bombing of World War II and maintains much of its landscape from that era. The shopping street in the Kyojima area, dubbed Shitamachi Ninjo Kirakira Tachibana Shotengai, is perhaps most heavily strewn with remnants of the Showa period. It holds morning markets and other events on a regular basis, and to this day is loved as the kitchen of Sumida.

Another shopping street—though it offers an entirely different set of attractions—is the roughly 80-year-old Hatonomachi Dori Shotengai. The directly managed apartment building “Challenge Spot! Suzuki-so” houses studios and shops for young creators, and even has as a café reusing an old private residence. Winning recognition for its effective use of vacant shop spaces, Hatanomachi has been designated as one of the “New 77 Energetic Shopping Streets” by the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. It is a secret sightseeing and art spot of shitamachi Tokyo.