Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Toyoko Line Love: Hakuraku, Myourenji and Okurayama

Train stations in Japan have ranks. Express trains only stop at the 'important' stations, leaving those who live near a minor station to switch to the slow, local trains (which however have the pleasant aspect of usually having lots of empty seats).

Particularly as you get to parts of the Toyoko line that are neither really part of Tokyo nor Yokohama, the smaller stations have that pleasant, vaguely inaka-ish feeling to them. Last weekend, in an attempt to work off  an incredibly large brunch, we took a walk from Hakuraku to Myorenji.

Hakuraku has a awesome covered shoutengai (called Rokkakubashi), all rickety and time worn, filled with the usual collection of odd little stores and restaurants. When helping Matcha-kun in the search for new housing (as real estate is one of my passions) we ended up spending a lot of time running around the shoutengai, trying to keep out of the rain. While there are lots of worthy purveyors of tastiness, our personal favorite ended up being a little oden place. It may have a name, but mostly it is a local hangout (and the oden is quite good too). We had a great time speaking with the other patrons, and as soon as the weather warms a bit we will definitely be back.

Waddling on towards Myorenji there is a koto/shamisen store, a true rarity in these days of Rakuten-based music stores. A little further is a dry cleaners with the wonderful name おしゃれ共和国 (aka The People's Republic of Fancy). There is also a rather nice park with a pond and oddly placed boats.
Myorenji gets its name from the nearby temple, which is quite large and has a very aurally pleasing little waterfall. The plum trees are just starting to bloom, and I look forward to checking their progress. Not far from the station there is a bright yellow and red restaurant called Booo (you have to wonder where that name came from), which is always packed! Yet another place I need to try out.

A little further away is Okurayama station, one of my haunts. Not only is it home to the cheapest greengrocer in the area (half a melon for 50 yen, be still my beating heart!), as well as a wonderful tailor/cobbler duo, but half of the main street has an eccentric faux-Greek vibe. Up the hill there is also a park, which houses the dramatic structure above. Apparently it is used as a concert hall and gallery. Tucked under an awning there is also an awesome little bakery, Totszen Baker's Kitchen, who are famous for their 'banana of happiness bread'. Oh course, having the sense of humor of a 13 year old boy, I spent a good 15 minutes sniggering about the 'banana of happiness' into my koala bread.

Anyone else have little gems they want to share?

1 comment:

  1. You always find such elegant places on your adventures. I've never seen a shamisen/koto shop though I'd love to take a look around one! :D

    Myorenji looks so scenic ;o;

    I love taking photos of Greco-Roman buildings in Japan! Mmm ancient architecture~~ lol