Munching on shio daifuku (sticky rice cakes filled with red bean paste containing a hint of salt) from Iseya in Sugamojizo-dori Shopping Center
A five-minute walk from Sugamo Station, lies the Sugamojizo-dori Shopping Center where the hospitable spirit of the local residents shines through. You’re bound to get a sense of that traditional residential and commercial area’s atmosphere in amongst the rows of highly-original owner-operated stores not found anywhere else in Tokyo. One of Sugamo’s local specialties is shio daifuku. The shopping center is home to a number of long-established Japanese-style confectionary stores, including Iseya, Mizuno, and Sugamoen, each proud of the shio daifuku they sell. “What makes our shio daifuku unique is the firm texture of the mochi pounded by mallet each morning, and the adzuki bean paste salted to perfection with a hint of sweetness. The flavor of the shio daifuku differs from store to store, so please find a flavor that suits you,” says Iseya’s proprietress.
Enjoy shaved ice at Kakigori Atelier Sekka
As you approach the middle of the shopping center, take a moment to worship the Togenuki Jizo at Kogan-ji Temple. It is said that sometimes the head priest will even give visitors a guided tour, explaining the rich history of the temple in fluent English. Perhaps try making inquiries at the temple office. When you are tired of wandering, pause to catch your breath at Kakigori Atelier Sekka. This store sells feather-light, melt-in-your mouth kakigori, shaved from blocks of ice from groundwater reserves under Mt. Fuji. All of their syrups are made to original recipes, and include delicious flavors that can be enjoyed year-round, such as “Strawberry Milk,” which condenses the umami of Japanese-grown strawberries, and “Matcha” with the rich flavor of tea grown in the green tea mecca of Shizuoka Prefecture. At Sugamojizo-dori Shopping Center, the 4th, 14th, and 24th day of each month are fair days. On these days, food stalls and variety goods stalls line the grounds of Kogan-ji Temple and the shopping center, and visitors are sure to find themselves enjoying the traditional Japanese festival atmosphere.