Sugamo Markets Tokyo

Finding Grandma in the old timer's Harajuku

By Jeremy Yap    - 3 min read

You have probably heard of Harajuku, the fashion capital for youth. But unless you´re over 60 and living in Tokyo, you wouldn’t have heard of Sugamo, fashion capital for the elderly or ´Harajuku for old ladies´.

Similar to its youthful neighbor, Sugamo has rows and rows of shops lined up, selling products that ranges from basic fashion accessories like clothes, shoes and hats to handicrafts and more importantly food. So if you are lost at what to get for your grandpa and grandma back home, Sugamo is the place for you.

But before taking the plunge in Sugamo proper, look out for a small wooden house with a huge white thing jutting out. From afar, it doesn’t seem like much but when you walk closer, you realize it’s actually feathery and fluffy. What might this be you may ask? Well, it’s actually the butt of a duck. More specifically, the butt of Sugamo famous Duck Mascot (which you will see everywhere). So do take a photo with it and remember to give it a rub and get ready to shop!

In Sugamo, you will be spoilt for choice. Firstly, you can venture into a crafts shop and purchase some Japanese artifacts to decorate your home. You can also kill two birds with one stone by purchasing one of those intricately designed cloths to wrap the present up. Thus, not only does it look good, but at the end of unwrapping stage, your grannies can reuse the ´wrapping paper´ for other purposes.

Sugamo is also stocked with tons of food. So let your grannies have a taste of Japan too by buying back some traditional rice crackers or other types of Japanese sweets (and you can more or less be sure your grannies will love the tidbits you´re bringing back, since it´s found in a street frequented by old ladies). You can also purchase some really affordable shirts or blouses for your grandpa or grandma, with prices hovering below 2000 Yen (approx. USD$20), it´s definitely a steal.

But you might wonder why do so many old people flock here? Well, the reason is simple. Sugamo has been equipped with all sorts of precautions to ensure that the elderly enjoy a risk free and enjoyable shopping experience. This includes having a street covered in textured bricks to avoid slips, stationing a number of AEDs along the stretch in case of any heart attacks and installing a lot of seats for people to rest. All of these additions make Sugamo the ultimate shopping destination for the elderly and it will not be surprising to see the number of visitors increase in the coming years, especially with Japan aging population.

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Jeremy Yap

Jeremy Yap @jeremy.yap

Experiences, Experiences Experiences! or if you like, Experencia, Experencia, Experencia! The only thing I seek for while traveling is to gain experiences. Why? Well, travelling provides us with the platform to learn, and the more people you meet, the more you understand the underbelly of the country. The more local food that you eat, the more you understand their culinary delights. The more time you spend in a country, the more you become a local. In the end, you learn and that`s what I`m seeking for. To learn and to grow, and to share it with you:)

Join the discussion

Elena Lisina a year ago
Is Sugamo duck is the permanent character of the district? I saw it and thought it was just for some festival.
Bonson Lam 7 years ago
The street scenes of Sugamo are beautifully protrayed in the movie,
A Boy and His Samurai.