Author: Beata Kowalczyk | Pages: 107–118
The origins of tourism in Japan, claim Japanese scholars such as Araki Hiroyuki or Yoshimi Shunya, are intrinsic to pilgrimages to various sacred places, shrines and temples, practiced on a broad scale in Japan during the Edo period (1603-1868). Given this, an infrastructure developed around centers of religious cults, where the faithful could take a rest and relax after a long trip. Along with the city sprawl, these so-called funfairs, defined in this paper with an emic concept of sakariba, were quickly incorporated as a part of an urban structure where they used to play a role of an entertainment district (Asakusa or Ryōgoku in Tokyo). Today most traditional sakaribas have disappeared or have been replaced by their modern form, represented for instance by big railway stations (Tokyo- eki, Shinjuku-eki or Shibuya-eki in Tokyo).
This paper will focus on the question of 'travelling (in)-to sakariba' in contemporary Tokyo, regarded first of all as a substitute of tourism, practices observed within the space of large sakariba-like railway stations (travelling in the present time), as a nostalgic return to one's home town (recalling the time of idyllic past) in such districts of Tokyo as Asakusa or Shinjuku of the sixties. Finally, 'touristic' visits at sakariba, as it will be suggested, resemble an imaginative trip into the realm of individual and/or group dreams or plans, which might become true one day (Ginza, Roppongi).