Guests at Tora-san’s Table

The other day, some fine late spring weather brought the 303 Crew to Katsushika-ku, in the extreme northeast part of Tokyo. This is a part of Shitamachi (the downtown oldest part of the capital) that Your Humble Narrator has never been to before, and it’s quite a way from Asakusa – in fact, it’s almost in Chiba prefecture.

We took the Keisei line to Yagiri station, and walked through the fields to the Edogawa river.

Industrial Archeology.

The Watashi ferryboat is a tradition that goes back 400 years to the beginning of the Edo period. At that time, it was the only way to cross the Edogawa river at that point; now, it’s a mildly popular tourist attraction.

Shibamata is, of course, best known as the home of the fictional film character Tora-san, the star of one of the world’s longest-running movie series, “Otoko wa Tsurai yo” (48 installments, until the death of the actor Kiyoshi Atsumi and the director Yoji Yamada). There’s a statue of Tora-san in front of the station …

Plus this intriguing object. Art? Or a technological relic?

and there’s a wonderful izakaya called Haru just behind the statue, to refresh yourself after walking through the alleyways filled with souvenir shops selling rice crackers and pickles.

From Shibamata station we took the Keisei to Hikifune, and walked though the area to Hananomichi, the site of an Edo period red-light district overshadowed by the much more famous Yoshiwara.

From there, we decided to keep walking along the riverside to Asakusa – for dinner at one of Minako’s old haunts, the soba restaurant Owariya.

The gentleman behind me is Nagai Kafu – one of the chroniclers of bygone Shitamachi, and one of the authors Patrick Fox discusses in “3/11: The Fallout”.

To finish? Another trip to Kamiya Bar, of course, for a nightcap of DenkiBran!

About J P Catton

Speculative storytelling and skewed fiction: the blog and website of author John Paul Catton.
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