Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Norakuro Street

Manga artist Suiho Tagawa (1899-1989) was born in Morishita, Tokyo, an area about 1 mile south of the sumo district of Ryogoku. He served in the Japanese Imperial army from 1919 to 1922; graduated from the Japan School of Art in 1925; and began producing manga in 1927 (initially under the pen name Awa Takamizu, which was latter modified to Suiho Tagawa). His most successful title was "Private Second Class Norakuro" ("stray black dog"), which started in 1931 and was turned into a TV anime series in 1970 and again in 1987.

The people of Morishita are very proud of Tagawa, and have turned the stretch of street in front of the Norakuro Manga Museum into Norakuro Town. One shop sells Norakuro souvenirs, and there's even a "Norakuro sake" at the liquor store.

To find this street from Shinjuku, start by taking the Chuu-ou rapid train to Ochanomizu and transfer to the Sobu line. Exit three stations later at Ryogoku and leave from the east exit (if you take the west exit, go immediately under the tracks to get to the south side of the wall). Walk east about 3 blocks to the first major intersection (463) and turn right. Go to the 7th set of street lights (next major intersection after 50) and look for the FamilyMart convenience store on the corner on the left.

This is Takabashi Yomise Dori. It's about a 20 minute walk from the station, so if you're in a hurry you may want to take a bus when you get to 463.

I decided to buy a bottle of the sake for 500 yen ($6 USD). When I asked about Norakuro, the store owner replied "This is Japanese Mickey Mouse".

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