The name Komagome, which literally means “horse inside,” is believed to have derived from the fields and stables where livestock was kept.
But a pasture is the last thing to cross visitors’ minds when they depart the Yamanote Line at Komagome Station and see the congested traffic on Hongo Dori, which crosses over the tracks.
|Komagomebashi Bridge takes Hongo Dori over the Yamanote Line tracks.|
There are few reminders of the days when vegetables grown in the village of Komagome — notably eggplant — were auctioned at the Komagome Tsuji no Yacchaba, one of Edo’s three major vegetable markets almost 400 years ago.
It was Hongo Dori, also known as Nikko Onari Michi, which dramatically transformed the area.
The Tokugawa shogunate’s practice of paying homage to Toshogu Shrine — in what is now Nikko, Tochigi Prefecture — brought a procession of horses and nobility from Edo Castle heading north along the road.
But, as well as bringing business and festivity, this procession also brought its inconveniences.
Up to a year before the date of the pilgrimage, notices were posted instructing residents to bow in the streets. People were also ordered not to light fires to bathe, as a fire-prevention measure.
Historical documents show that, during the two days of the procession, a mass exodus took place as families took refuge in nearby Asakusa.
Two communities gradually developed in the area immediately surrounding the station’s current location. The estates of the daimyo were located south of Komagome Station, a hilly area where residents could see Mount Fuji in clear weather. A community of gardeners grew to the north, where the land dipped. One of these gardeners cultivated the Somei Yoshino cherry tree, whose blossom is Tokyo’s official flower.
Other than the crows, few visitors frequent the more tranquil residential areas or the famed Rikugien Park and Somei Reien Cemetery.
“We are an old neighborhood,” said Eiji Saito, 61, a member of the Somei Yoshino-cho Community Group in Komagome. “We live at our own pace.”
Now, vegetables grown nationwide are hawked at Toshima Market, which is run by the Tokyo Metropolitan Central Wholesale Market, and is situated about a 15-minute walk from the station.
The market will strut its stuff at the upcoming annual Vegetable and Fruits Heaven Toshima Market Fair on Oct. 29, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Visitors can watch the auctioning of vegetables, while prizes of potatoes and tomatoes will be handed out throughout the day.
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