Sugamo Jizo-dori (巣鴨地蔵通り) is a bustling shopping street near JR Sugamo Station popular with the older generations that is affectionately known as “Grandma’s Harajuku” in reference to the youth mecca near Shibuya. The shopping street as long been a place of commerce: it is actually part of the old Nakasendo, and was the first rest point for travelers along the route once after they departed from Nihombashi.
While the shops along the Jizo-dori might not be to everyone’s taste (there are more than a handful of clothing stores aimed at older women), there is a certain good-natured charm to the area. Vendors set up stalls along the street selling anything from Japanese pickles and macha to okonomiyaki and chocolate and Koganji Temple, which was moved from Ueno in 1891, sits mid-way down the street. Outside the temple you will find the Togenuki Jizo statue which depicts Jizo Bodhisattva.
People believe that they can relieve themselves of aches and pains by pouring water on the statue and rubbing the part of its body where they themselves are suffering. The temple holds a small festival on the 4th, 14th and 24th of every month making it a good time to visit, but the shopping street is lively any weekend. The area is also know for shio-daifuku (塩大福), a glutinous rice cake that has an unsweetened anko filling, It can be purchased from the bakeries along the street for about 150 yen.