On this late afternoon and early evening we’ve stopped in Eifukuchō (永福町), a residential neighborhood anchored on Eifukuchō Station and shopping arcades along Eifuku-dōri both to the north and south. Keiō Inokashira Line local and express trains stop at Eifukuchō, with about a 12 minute trip into Shibuya. On this visit, we’re looking specifically at the Eifukuchō-eki Kitaguchi Shōwakai (永福町駅北口商和会), which as per its name, is the shopping street on the north side.
The track has always been at grade level, but construction that was completed in 2010 replaced the underground station with an over-track building.
The new station interior is bright and airy.
In 2011, the connected Retnade (京王リトナード) shopping center was completed. This is one of the Keiō Group’s branded, transit-integrated retail developments. I didn’t realize it at the time, but the building features a rooftop garden with views of the trains and neighborhood.
To the south is the Eifukuchō Shōtengai (永福町商店街).
Shoyu ramen institution Taishōken (大勝軒) anchors the southern end of the Eifukuchō-eki Kitaguchi Shōwakai and can probably claim the greatest amount of celebrity among its neighbors. We’ll step inside to partake of one of Taishōken’s famously punch bowl-sized servings in the subsequent post.
Don’t look now, but it’s another Matsumoto Kiyoshi. I think the chain pharmacy has appeared in every neighborhood I’ve visited so far in this volume.
Eifukuchō was the first unknown quantity of this trip to Tokyo. I had already planned to come for Taishōken, but was aware of the shōtengai from its appearance in the background art of the Spring 2013 anime Hataraku Maō-sama! In the show, the character Emi is occasionally shown walking from the station north along the street to her apartment, stopping to pickup groceries or dinner along the way. While I could confirm that the shōtengai existed from Street View, I still didn’t know what kind of activity level or street health I’d find when I actually got here.
Though with time and patience I was able to get a handful of shots with people, when I arrived in the late afternoon it was quiet. Most of the neighborhood looked like this—shops open for business but with few or no people stopping by.
Need rice? This shop has you covered.
I’ve made it to the north end of the shōtengai and, while I’ve seen a few more people either out walking or on bicycles, I begin to wonder if this is my first dud. A shopping street with no shoppers.
As I headed back south, I began to notice changes. The street lamps appear to be triggered by light sensors, though not of very precise calibration. Now that it was getting darker, more of the lamps began to flicker on.
More people were stopping for chats with merchants, bags in tow.
Back lit signs and shop windows poured light onto the street.
As I neared the station I realized what was going on. The clock had just ticked over 5:00pm and the first batch of commuters was arriving. This is definitely an evening shōtengai.
Now this is more like it. This is what Eli would have come home to.
Taishōken’s back lit white and green sign is iconic, casting a warm glow over the corner.
More arrivals via the Inokashira Line every few minutes
This post is part of The Tokyo Project, Volume 2. Click here to go to the introduction and table of contents.