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.
Survivor’s Guide To the Japanese Language
The following is a survivor’s guide to the Japanese language. In particular, this is directed to the typical tourist to Japan. The typical tourist to Japan speaks no Japanese, and why should he? The Japanese language is radically different from other languages, and as opposed to languages such as Spanish, Arabic, or English, which are used in many countries, the Japanese language is essentially used only in Japan. Also, as a tourist, you will not have the time to study or retain the language, and besides, you will be busy visiting onsens, hiking Mt. Fuji, eating great food, and generally...
Where to Drink Japanese Craft Beer in Tokyo
The craft beer scene in Japan has exploded in recent years with an increase in the number of craft breweries in the major cities as well as the quality of beer and the varieties offered. Although craft breweries in Japan only gained traction in the late 1990s when the country deregulated the brewing industry by lowering the annual output required for a brewing license, Japan has quickly caught up internationally and now boasts several award-winning beers as well as distinctive seasonal brews only offered in Japan. As a craft beer fanatic living in Tokyo, I have enjoyed trying out what...
3 Hidden Gems to Visit in Japan
Japan has become one of the most favourite holiday destinations for world travelers. Japan has also been known for its unique culture, food, and famous streets. Visitors usually come to Japan to go shopping and take a walk in Shibuya or Harajuku, taste Japanese sushi, try kimono or yukata. The list of places that tourist visits are more or less already known by many people and too mainstream. Actually, if you try to explore Japan more deeply, you will find many amazing hidden gems you did not expect to exist in Japan. Here we go: 1.Tottori Sand Dunes Have you...
One Size Fits All? What you need to know about Clothing Size...
Japan is a shopper’s paradise. With high rise boutique shopping centers, endless underground mazes of malls, to the bustling shopping streets in Shibuya and Harajuku—there are endless opportunities for shopping just in Tokyo! Shibuya is Tokyo’s most famous shopping neighborhood. Japan is at the forefront of global style and trends, and you can find a wide variety of unique fashions that are exclusive to Japan. But, what can foreigners expect while shopping in Japan? One important thing to consider is size. The most common question I get from people thinking about traveling to Japan is “Will Japanese clothes fit me?”....
Starbucks Japan – Worldwide Brand but Japanese Style
Starbucks – a worldwide coffee brand, was first founded in Seattle, USA in 1971. When it came to 2017, this brand has been expanded up to different 75 countries with more than 26,000 stores. Starbucks has an easy-to-recognize logo. Even though in 2011, the company decided to put away the words “coffee”, “tea”, and also the brand name “Starbucks” on the logo, it is not difficult for people to recognize the brand when looking through the logo only, which is a thing that not all brands can do. 1. What makes Starbucks become popular and famous? Customers are usually impressed...
Kamakura – City of Temples and Beaches
If Tokyo is known as a modern capital with Disneyland and Disneysea or Osaka is well-known for its castles or Universal Studio, Kamakura – a city of Kanagawa Prefecture, is well-known for its temples, pagodas, and beaches. Just more than 50 km away from Tokyo, Kamakura is a tourist attractions that you should not miss during your stay in Tokyo. When you come to this city, you can enjoy the ancient beauty with many historical sites and delicious foods. Let’s take a look at the specialties in this city! 1. Things to do Kōtokuin Temple As I mentioned before, Kamakura...