Soshigaya (祖師ケ谷) is a suburban area of western . Here, you can find a very special shopping street. It is called Ultraman Shopping Street because there are many Ultraman characters all over the street. Find out what’s the deal about Ultraman and this cool local street in Tokyo!
Who is Ultraman?
Ultraman is a popular TV series that started in 1966 and the franchise is still running today. You could say that Ultraman is Japan’s superhero version of Superman or Spiderman. The franchise is produced by Tsuburaya Productions which is specialized in Tokusatsu (special effects). Founder Eiji Tsuburaya was an employee of the large movie company Toho. But because he made a movie that uplifted fighting spirits during WW2, he was expelled after the war. So, he started his own production company. He built his studio near Soshigaya street in 1966.
Ultraman was a big hit right when it came out with a 36.8% audience rate. It has been broadcast in more than 100 countries. In 2013, Ultra Series was recorded in the Guinness Book of World Record as having the most TV spin-off series. There were 27 titles at that time.
So, Soshigaya is regarded as the birthplace of Ultraman. There are three shopping streets in the area and a revitalization project in 2004 has made it a comfortable area to discover. At that time, they decided to use the common name ‘Ultraman Shopping Street’. Promoting the shopping street was done by decorating the streets with Ultraman characters in 2005. They regularly hold events inviting Ultraman characters and develop original souvenirs.
In front of Soshigaya-Okura Station of the Odakyu Line, there is a statue of Ultraman. It looks like he is welcoming you! Every hour, the color timer on his chest lights up. It is a good photo spot. There are three Ultraman Gates. Under the arches you can find three types of Ultraman; the first Ultraman, Ultraman Jack, and Zoffy are flying here.
Also, don’t forget to check out the city lights. They resemble Ultraman, Ultra Seven, Ultraman Taro, and Alien Baltan. The city map is also decorated with Ultraman characters. Even the police box is decorated with the face of Ultraman. There is an installation from which an Ultraman song is played when you press the button. The area has a definite theme park atmosphere. Such an interesting town!
Cafe Melody is a coffee shop on the street with an interesting menu. For example, Ul-latte is a café latte with Ultraman characters painted on the foam. The pancake also has Ultraman on the surface. This cute place is a family-friendly café that has a dedicated space for kids with Ultraman toys and books.
It is not just a coffee shop but also a vendor of Ultraman goods. The shop part is called ‘SHOT M78 Shop’. Some products are originals of the shopping street. A steamed red bean jam bun called Ultraman Manju is the area’s unique sweet with an Ultraman design on the bun.
Toho Studios is located at a 15-minute walk distance from Soshigaya-Okura Station. The company was founded in 1932 by the Hankyu Railway Company in the Kansai area. Its former name was Tokyo Takarazuka Gekijo. Takarazuka is a musical show played only by women while Kabuki is played only by men. They were a live stage first and became a movie-maker later.
Their name became Toho after a merger with Photo Chemical Laboratory and this is when they started to make movies. Toho Studio was originally made by Photo Chemical Laboratory in 1932. The company’s size increased year by year along with the development of the movie industry. Now, Toho Studios is one of the biggest movie studios in Japan. The area is 79,000m2 with 10 studios for filming.
Because the Godzilla series is one of its major movies, there is a statue of Godzilla at the entrance of the studio and a big painting of Godzilla on the wall of the studio. They don’t accept visitors, but you can take a picture of the wall painting.
Access to Soshigaya
From Shinjuku Station, take the Odakyu Line and get off at Soshigaya-Okura Station. It takes 22 minutes. The Ultraman Shopping Street is right next to the station.
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