In the Edo Period the area around what is now Minami-Senju Station in Arakawa-ku, Tokyo did not have the best of reputations. As it lay north east of the center of old Edo, it was considered the direction that evil came from.
As a result the area became populated with ritual outcastes (burakumin) who were forced to live here by the shogunate. Japan's outcastes were people who worked in trades associated with animal slaughter or death in general: butchers, tanners, undertakers, executioners etc.
Indeed one of the three execution grounds in Edo, the Kozukappara Execution Grounds, were situated here in the area now covered by the railway sidings at Minami-Shinju Station. At Enmeiji Temple, close to the station, many of the bodies killed at Kozukappara were given a cheap burial. The "Neck Chop Jizo" (Kubikiri Jizo) statue was erected in 1741 at the temple to offer solace to these poor souls.
The Minami-Senju area had always offered cheap accommodation for construction workers and day workers in Tokyo but over the last decade hotel and guest house owners have reached out to the growing number of backpackers visiting the capital.
The rule of thumb is that if the guest house has a name in kanji (Japanese characters) it will serve Japanese customers; if it has an English (romaji) name it is aimed at the international traveler market.
Rooms are really cheap by Tokyo standards and offer a two or three tatami-mat space with shared bathroom, toilets and showers and kitchen. Some rooms may also be western-style with beds. Facilities usually include WiFi, a coin operated launderette on the premises, TV and bicycle hire. Some premises offer dorm-style accommodation in bunk beds.
Some recommended places to stay in the Minami-Senju area include the Hotel Palace, Aizuya Inn, Dorm Hostel Ebisuya, Tokyo Backpackers, Kangaroo and Hotel New Koyo. There are literally scores of places to choose from. See here for a fuller list of accommodations in Minami Senju, Tokyo.
Minami-Senju Station is on the following train lines: the Hibiya Line of Tokyo metro, the Joban Line and Tsukuba Express.
It is a 20-30 minute (2km) walk south to the tourist attractions of Asakusa or cycle on a rental cycle or hop on a Hibiya Line subway to Ueno or the electronics center of Akihabara. Asakusa is one stop on the Tsukuba Express from Minami-Senju.
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