Kagurazaka is a town developed after Tokugawa Ieyasu, the first Shogun in Edo era (Beg. of 17th century), opened his government in Edo (current Tokyo). Let us make a quick review of Kagurazaka history.
Kagurazaka street was opened in the middle of the 17th century as a path between Ushigome gate of Edo castle (where Tokugawa Shogun lives) and a house of a high-ranked official Mr.Sakai. Though some merchants had lived in this area, most land was distributed to Samurai warriors (government officials) and temples/shrines by the government. They constructed outer moat of Edo castle and made a riverbank as a logistic base near Kagurazaka, which later contributed a lot to the development of Kagurazaka town.
In the 18th century and later, various popular culture prospered in Edo. At the end of the 18th century Zenkokuji temple moved in and its festival on the day of tiger made Kagurazaka very busy. Some red-light district was formed near some temples/shrines as it is often the case with entertainment area. At the end of Edo era a variety theater on Jizozaka slope became one of the most popular places in Edo.
Kagurazaka in Edo era
When Edo era ended, the population in Edo decreased as most of the Samurai warriors returned their home country. But once Tokyo became Japan's new capital, government officials and businessmen gradually filled up vacant houses. Entertainment district was also formed as derived from the similar zone in Edo era. Shops along the Kagurazaka street were rapidly developed in the time and a night market started first in Tokyo.
In Meiji era, famous novelist such as Ozaki Koyo, Natsume Souseki etc. gathered in this area, and some variety theaters restored, then Kagurazaka came to be a town with a flavor of culture. In 1895 Iidamachi terminal train station opend near Kagurazaka. The town further developed as a joint place between downtown and uptown of Tokyo.
Zenkokuji temple's festival
The size of the entertainment district in Kagurazaka became one of the largest in Tokyo. In 1923 downtown Tokyo was hit by Great Kanto Earthquakeand heavily damaged, but the damage in Kagurazaka was relatively small. Thus a lot of famous shops moved in from Ginza, and Kagurazaka so prospered as to be called "The busiest street in uptown" or "Uptown Ginza". This was the peak time for this town.
However, the time goes on, as new terminal stations like Shinjuku, Shibuya, and Ikebukuro started to develop, the status of Kagurazaka slowly went down. The town still kept its attractions of special atmosphere and calmness for the time being, but whole town was burned down and destroyed at the end of WW2 by air raid. Old houses and buildings inherited since Edo era were all lost.
Kagurazaka night market
After the war, entertainment business revived immediately and it reached its another peak at 1950-60s, however, it slowly declined as a trend of the times. In bubble economy times (1990s) some development did not consider the harmony of the town, so many residents came to realize the importance of the taste of this town. Nowadays various events and actions are carried out to make Kagurazaka a characteristic, old-taste town. At a same time it is also very famous with fashionable restaurants. KAGURAZAKA is a kind of excellent brand now.