02Shinagawa History, Izakaya, and Horse Racing Walking Tour
Shinagawa is one of Tokyo’s major station meeting points, but not many may know of its history as it was one of Tokyo’s major port during the early 1900’s. I learned about the importance of Shinagawa and what it offered to Japan during the early days. With our English speaking guides, they educated us on Shinagawa history and made us feel welcome with their energetic personality. The tour took about 3 hours but time felt like it went by faster from all the walking we did. We walked around the streets, explored a few historical Shrines/Temples, ate at a traditional izakaya (Japanese bar restaurant), got to see horse racing, and made a few bets too!
The beginning of our walk through Shinagawa history
I arrived to Aomono-Yokocho Station and was greeted by a few of the guides. Some only spoke English but it was enough to understand what they would be presenting that day. We were given a quick introduction of what was expected on the tour along with mics to hear the guides speak clearly as other groups spoke different languages. We were also given a pamphlet with all the information regarding Shinagawa.
Beautiful shrines and temples
We started the tour and headed to our first location and visited two historical temples: Honsenji and Kaiunji Temple. They featured the Edorokujizo statues and Yokogaeri bell. We also saw a large 600-year-old ginkgo tree. Hosenji Temple is associated with the Shingon monk Kobo Daishi and Kaiunji Temple is known for enshrining Sanpokojin, the protector of kitchen furnaces.
Parks and views of Shinagawa
We continued on our walk and made it to our next location: Samezu Irie Park and flower road. Samezu Irie Park was originally an oceanside that was famous for fishing Sharks, hence the name Samezu(Same means shark). Flower road is a road along the Canal that's filled with different types of flowers all planted by volunteers in the community. The sun was setting so the view was gorgeous during this time of the day. We got quite a few great shots here. The area here was famous of Nori(seaweed) farming in the early 1900s. It was also a major port drop off for local and international ships.
Traditional dinner with drinks at an old school Izakaya
We made our way to our next destination for dinner at a traditional Izakaya called “Oyama no Taisho”. We had beer, sake, Izakaya dishes like Nabe(hotpot), Yakitori chicken(grilled chicken), Tsukemono vegetables(pickles), and pasta. We hung out with the group, had a few drinks, laughed and cheered with the whole Izakaya! It was a good break to have from all the walking. Kanpai to the group!
Oi Horse racecourse: The excitement of racehorse betting!
After finishing our dinner, we went to the Oi horse racecourse! This was my first time ever to a horse racing venue so I was pretty excited to see it. We were greeted by the staff at the entrance and given a pamphlet with all the information on the horses. The staff taught us about what makes a great racing horse and which to bet on and took us up to the guests room where we could see more of the action from above.
Overall it was a great tour. From the history of Shinagawa and walking along the roads, Canal, and other great sights. Never would I have thought a temple like Honsenji existed in the area and held so much history to it. Watching the races was thrilling and I enjoyed betting as well. I greatly would come do this experience again in the future.