Today we went to 巣鴨 (Sugamo).
Do you know 巣鴨 (Sugamo)?
It’s a part of Tokyo often referred to as 「おばあちゃんの原宿」 (“The Old Ladies’ Harajuku“). This is because 原宿 (Harajuku) is an area popular with young people because that area is full of clothes stores, restaurants, etc that young people like…and 巣鴨 (Sugamo) is popular with the older generation because it’s full of clothes stores, restaurants, traditional Japanese snack shops, etc that they like.
My oldest daughter didn’t join us because she and her friend, ironically, went to 原宿 (Harajuku) together today.
This is the entrance to the popular 地蔵通り (Jizou-doori), the shopping street in 巣鴨 (Sugamo) that has many shops and restaurants that old people like. (You don’t have to be old to appreciate them, though…I like traditional Japanese snacks, food, and souvenirs, too ).
Here’s a video I took of this area:
This street can be compared to the popular 竹下通り (Takeshita-doori) in 原宿 (Harajuku)…except for the age difference between the shoppers on these two streets.
The 地蔵通り (Jizou-doori) shopping street in 巣鴨 (Sugamo) was especially crowded today and there were many vendors because many people were going to the 高岩寺 (Kouganji Temple) for 初詣 (first Shrine visit of the year)…usually people go to a 神社 (Shinto Shrine) for 初詣 (first Shrine visit of the year), but going to a 御寺 (Buddhist Temple) is fine.
This is the entrance to 高岩寺 (Kouganji Temple)…the sign with the temple’s name is written right to left (寺岩高), which is the way Japanese used to be written (now it’s either written horizontally, left to right (→) and top of the page to bottom (↓) (like English)…or vertically, top to bottom (↓) and right of the page to left (←)).
So we went to 巣鴨 (Sugamo) for 初詣 (first Shrine (Temple) visit of the year) and we bought some 大福 (a traditional Japanese snack).
Speaking of snacks, soon Japanese kids will be taking entrance exams for high school or college. My oldest will be taking her high school entrance exam.
When we went into a convenience store, I saw a shelf of snacks that are supposed to be lucky for kids taking exams. One of the more popular ones is the American chocolate bar 「キット・カッツ」 (“Kit-Kat“). The reason that Kit-Kat has become popular for kids taking exams is because the chocolate’s name sounds like 「きっと勝つ!」 (Kitto-katsu!)…which means “I’ll definitely pass!”.
Supposedly, Japan has the most flavors of Kit-Kat in the world. I’ve have seen many flavors including some like “Green Tea Kit-Kat”, “Exotic Tokyo Kit-Kat”, and “Banana Kit-Kat”. (Although I’ve never tried any of them. I don’t eat much candy or chocolate.)
But this one was obviously made especially for kids taking college entrance exams in Japan since the package is decorated with Sakura Cherry-Blossom flowers (and symbol of Springtime in Japan (when the school-year begins)) and a school uniform hat. The flavor is 「大学いも味」 (“College Potato Taste“). Sounds odd for a chocolate bar! Could be good, though…I don’t know—I didn’t buy it.