On my first visit to the Musashikoyama Palm Shōtengai (武蔵小山商店街パルム), I was focused on getting a representative sample of photos from the entire arcade, and explaining the form and function of shōtengai using Palm as an exemplar. This time takes a more casual approach, lingering on whatever happened to be interesting at the time. Where the first visit was made around lunchtime on a Saturday, this second installment began as the sun was setting on a Sunday and captured a lively evening crowd.
Architecturally, the covered walkway links Musashikoyama Station and the arcade as a continuous space. On this beautiful evening, the people filling it and adjacent areas help to hammer home the sense of place.
The standing yakitori shop outside the main entrance is a popular stop.
There is a very short leg of the arcade that runs southwest from the main entrance.
Within this spur, the part closest to the station functions somewhat like an alternate entrance for people coming from Koyama 4-chōme.
However, the remaining block that continues on the other side of the arterial road is comparatively desolate.
This street in this part was never resurfaced with tilework and it does not have the arched roof.
The main part of the arcade is a different world. The decibel level is up considerably from my previous visit.
Ironically, the busy scene full of interactions proved to be challenging to shoot. With so many people in a small space, it was hard to avoid being noticed with the camera. While the occasional goofy smile or bow once you’ve been spotted can make a fun photo, the self conscious stares not so much.
I did get many interesting wide angle, atmospheric shots.
If I’m reading this right, Palm was having a promotion to celebrate the 60th year of its credit card, which doubles as a shopper point card/loyalty program. You would normally receive one point for every 100 yen spent, upped to two during the campaign.
Palm is no doubt the backbone of the neighborhood, but good weather makes apparent the role of the small shōtengai on intersecting streets as its ribs.
Dual seat mamachari
There is nothing unusual about individual shops in Palm. All of them sell practical fare from clothes to food and household goods. There are no souvenirs or luxury goods here. But zooming out to take in the whole scene together with the arcade roof, it has a kind of elegance and grandeur.
Little moments like this are one of my favorite things about shōtengai. The young woman hit jackpot when she had this gentleman stop for a free sample. I’m not sure whether it was the smooth duds or his comedy routine that had people stopping to check out the show.
Ready for Halloween
Like a good bookend, the take away yakitori stall at the other end of the arcade is also a good place to spot friendly exchanges. Though a light chill descends quicky once the sun sets during the fall in Tokyo, it’s always warm inside Musashikoyama Palm.
This post is part of The Tokyo Project, Volume 2. Click here to go to the introduction and table of contents.