In Edo Period Shinagawa, popular footwear included geta (traditional wooden sandals) perched on meter-high, box-frame stilts weighted down with large stones. A fashionista freakout? Not exactly. Turns out these uberplatforms, a pair of which are on display at the Shinagawa Historical Museum, were designed to keep feet high and dry while collecting nori (seaweed).

Shinagawa developed a reputation for its tasty nori, once harvested just offshore. Fishing was a second source of income, and Shinagawa regularly supplied seafood to Edo castle. By the 1960s, though, Tokyo Bay had grown too sullied to support aquaculture.

The lodging and entertaining of travelers was a third, and more durable, business, one that continues in Shinagawa's many hotels today. It has its roots in a time when Tokyo was known as Edo, and travel in and out of the city was strictly regulated. Five major highways exited the city, and shuku (post stations), were set up to monitor traffic. Of these, seaside Shinagawajuku was the popular party stop on the heavily trafficked Tokaido highway linking Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka and Nara.