Walking around a post-station town with signs of former prosperity ― Vol.2 “Kita-Senju” by Shinobu Machida’s Japan Tour

Ōhashi ophthalmology, a remnant of the Taishō Era

The post-station towns in Gokaidō (Tōkaidō, Nakasendō, Nikkō Kaidō, Ōshū Kaidō, and Kōshu Kaidō) developed from people’s comings and goings over a long period of time. Above all, Edo Shishuku, the four post-station towns, including Naitō Shinjuku, Itabasi-shuku, Shinagawa-shuku, and Senju-shuku, developed as an important base in Edo. This time, we will go to Kita-Senju, which remains the deep color of the old prosperity.

History and cats remaining behind in Kita-Senju

Kita-Senju, which was constructed in 1625 as the first post-station town on Nikko Kaidō, has developed well, gathering more merchants and craftsmen as traffic increased. There are various theories about the name of Senju, and one of the prominent stories claims Masatsugu Arai Tosho, who served Yoritomo Minamoto, picked up the status of Thousands hands Goddess of Mercy at Arakawa in 1327. The place is also where Basyō Matsuo’s book, “Oku no Hoshomichi,” begins. (translated as “The Narrow Road to the Deep North”)

On the end of a shopping arcade, there is a western style building, Ohashi ophthalmology, which was built in 1918. The building was renovated in 1982, but it still retains its old image in various ways, such as its beautiful terrace with antique building parts.

Ohashi ophthalmology was rebuilt with an antique terrace and street lights

Nagurake (opened in 1770) has been known as The Bonesetter’s Nagura for a long time. A famous writer, Ogai Mori, had a relationship with the Nagura family, and introduced Nagura’s third son as a bonesetter in Ogai’s novel, “Shibue Chūsai.” Surprisingly, in the prewar era, actors and Sumo wrestlers did not pay any doctor’s fees at Nagura’s practice. This comes from the founder’s belief bonesetting should be free for those whose work was entertaining people.

Nagura Bonesetter, a famous bonesetter since the Edo era

Walking on the backstreets of Kita-Senju, you can see various old images. Nakagawaen no Kura is a teahouse which was bought from a merchant in 1938, but the building itself was built before the Great Kanto earthquake.

Nakagawaen no Kura, built before the Great Kanto earthquake

There are always cats on the backstreets

A bustling post-station town painted on a shutter on a shopping street

Meyami Jizōson is a place you can pray for worries about your eyes, and they sell handwritten Ema (wooden plaque). Ema have been handwritten on its surface here since the Edo era. These are famous as Senju Ema, which are drawn with powder and colorful mud paints on a bordered paper-thin sheet of wood.

Meyami Jizōson, an oral tradition about being good for your eye concerns

Kadoya’s Yarikake Dango is famous as a traditional Dango (rice dumpling) among both locals and visitors from all across the old Nikkō Kaidō. The name of this Dango shop was derived from where Mito Kōmon ate some Dango while propping his pike on a pine tree when he returned home. They have two kinds of Dango, Anko (sweet bean paste) and Shoyu-tare (Soy sauce) with a reasonable price of 90 yen per dango, friendly to average people.

Kadoya’s freshly toasted Yarikake Dango

There is a myth about the Kankan Jizō (stone statue) in Anyō-in that say your prayers will be fulfilled if you pray while tapping on the Jizō with a small pebble. The Jizō has been hit this way ever since it was built in 1699, so its face has worn away.

Kankan Jizō, said to fulfill your prayers.

Walking on the backstreets in Kita-Senju, you will find a book cafe that goes by Senju Publisher. Mr. Machida frequently visits this secret cafe. Senju Publisher was established by the owner, Akiko Yoshimitsu, on the thought that she wanted to show her local town to everyone in the nation. There is a Japanese style room in Senju Publisher open as a part of a cafe, it would be a blissful moment to experience reading books about Kita-Senju while having a cup of coffee. You may see Mr. Machida there.

A little tricky to find: Senju Publisher Cafe

Enjoy having a cup of coffee in the mood of the early Showa

Takara-yu: a bath for beauty with a public bathhouse garden

Takara-yu, the King of Verandas

Many carp in the garden pond

There are a lot of Sento in Kita-Senju. Takara-yu, which was opened in 1927, stands above the others for a garden called “the King of Verandas.” A big board carved “Wa” on the front, and “Nu” on the back hangs on the front entrance. “Wa” means “the bath is ready” and “Nu” means “the bath is drained,” which explains the business hours.

“Nu” board meaning the bath is drained

It’s been 80 years since Takara-yu was built in 1938. They used to use scrap wood for heat, but now they use gas. Therefore, the chimney is no longer used, but remains as a monument. Takara-yu uses well water, which is rare in the Tokyo area. There are an air bubble bath, an infrared ray bath, a bathwater additive bath, and an electric bath. The men and women’s bathrooms are switched on Wednesday, so if you are a woman and would like to see their garden, it would be better to go on Wednesday. After taking a bath, there are a variety of drinks, including a standard after-bath coffee, alcohol such as beer and shochu-based beverages, so it’s promised you will be able to feel sheer pleasure when you drink in the garden after your bath.

A variety of baths

Koichi Matsumoto, the owner of Takara-yu (right on the picture)

Enjoy having a cup of coffee in the mood of the early Showa

Put your hand on your hip while drinking a standard after-bath coffee.
Kita-Senju ― a mystery town which preserves old traditions while building front line brandshops one after the other in front of the station. I’m looking forward to seeing this town evolve in the future as if it had two eras co-existing.

@japan introduces Kita-Senji and welcomes Mana Takahata, model, as our main reporters.

27-1 Senju Motomach, Adachi-ku
Tokyo, Japan 120-0041
Tel: 03-3881-2660 (15:00-23:30)
Fixed holiday: Friday
Bath charge:
Adults: 460 yen (18 years old and above)
Junior and high school students: 300 yen (12 years old and above)
Elementary school students: 180 yen (between 6 and 12 years old)
Infants: 80 yen (under 6 years old)

Nagura Honin
5 Chome 22-1, Senju Adachi-ku
Tokyo, Japan 120-0034

Senju Publisher
3-16 Senju, Adachi-ku
Tokyo, Japan 120-0034

Nagura Bonesetter

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