Tokyo is a hidden treasure trove for Japanese film lovers. If you’re an Ultraman fan looking to go off the beaten path of popular tourist attractions, then Setagaya ward has a lovely surprise waiting for you in “Ultra Town.”
Ultra Town: Birthplace of Ultraman
Why the name? Simple: Soshigaya Okura, located in Setagaya Ward, is known as the official birthplace of Ultraman. Until its recent relocation, this city was home to Tsurubaya Productions, which fans may recognize as the special effects studio that introduced Ultraman to the world.
For those unfamiliar, the character Ultraman is a superhero from a galaxy far, far away (Galaxy M78) who saves the world from kaiju monster attacks with distinctive poses and flashy attacks.
Ultraman found massive commercial success as the protagonist in its eponymous TV show, following his first appearance in the TV series Ultra Q. The creator Eiji Tsurubaya, founder of Tsurubaya Productions, is also known as the co-creator of another beloved kaiju character, Godzilla.
In the decades since Ultraman first graced the silver screen in 1966, Setagaya ward has happily embraced its reputation, and it shows: you can’t walk five steps without spotting some sort of tribute to the beloved character.
As expected of Ultra Town, “Ultra Street,” or Ultraman Shotengai, is the tourist destination highlight of Ultra Town. This major shopping street can be found a short walking distance from Soshigaya-Okura Station, close to Toho Studios. The distinctive entrance has an Ultraman figure suspended from futuristic-looking arches, making it easy to spot.
The streets are lined with fun, futuristic lamp posts that look like they’re pulled straight from the TV show. Some are interactive, and some have banners featuring different kaiju monsters that Ultraman has battled in the more popular episodes. A great fan activity could be to just see how many different kinds of banners there are—and trust me, there’s more than enough variety and hidden easter eggs to keep the hardcore Ultraman fan busy.
This shopping street has an abundance of themed cafes, restaurants, and shops selling Ultraman merchandise and other goodies. You can even go on a stamp-collecting hunt, seeking out shops that will christen your map with specialized Ultraman ink stamps.
Food and drink in all shapes and sizes—always in the Ultraman theme, of course—are ready and waiting for you to come by and snatch them up. There are specialized stores stocking themed snacks that you can bring home as souvenirs.
Yamato-ya, pictured above, is a great place on Ultra Street to grab a fun themed souvenir or two. They have a vast selection of manjuu, a Japanese confection filled with red bean paste, as well as other small themed candies.
Manjuu fillings come in a wide range of options, including red bean, chocolate, cream, and much more.
Your options are not limited simply to sweets, either. Further along down the street, a liquor shop offers a wide selection of a more adult type of gift… always in the Ultraman theme.
Why not try a bottle of potato shochu, with a personalized label of Ultraman mid-punch? It apparently comes personally recommended by the superhero himself.
If shochu isn’t your cup of tea, the shop also offers wine, beer, sake, and much more.
The front of this space may look inconspicuous, but inside you will find one of the best places to sit and relax in all of Ultra Town. This is Cafè Melody, where you can sit to enjoy a relaxing beverage while being serenaded by the gigantic TV screen streaming endless Ultraman footage. Be sure to check out the fun Galaxy M78 merchandise they also have available.
Last but definitely not least, be sure to grab a photo with the man himself:
The statue is situated right outside of Soshigaya-Okura Station, making it a great photo op either before or after your Ultra Street adventures.
How to Get to Ultra Street
From Shinjuku Station, the quickest route is via the Odakyu Odawara Line. Make sure to grab a local train and not a rapid or express, as the local is the only train that stops at this station. The entrance to Ultra Street is roughly a three-minute walk south of the station.
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