Tsuburaya Productions, the special effects studio that created the Ultraman TV show way back in 1966, was based until recently in this residential area near Soshigaya-Okura Station on the Odakyu Odawara Line, and the town here won’t let you forget it – there are flying Ultraman statues suspended from arches at each point that marks the entrance to one of the town’s main shopping streets, as well as a standing Ultraman statue located by Soshigaya-Okura Station itself, Ultraman-styled lamp posts lining the streets, and more.
For those unfamiliar with Ultraman, he’s a superhero from Galaxy M78 who periodically saves Earth from rampaging kaiju (monsters). Following the original TV series, there have been many new Ultra heroes introduced and movies made.
True hardcore fans may decide to pay tribute at all three Ultraman statues at the entrances to the shopping streets, but because of the distance between each most fans will be satisfied admiring the statue near Soshigaya-Okura Station and perhaps one other, depending on what your itinerary holds for the day. I recommend the Zoffy Arch at the end of the west street – it’s not as far a walk as the arches on the ends of the north and south streets, and you’ll most likely head in that direction to visit the cafe (more on that below). Just keep an eye out for cars while gazing up at Ultraman Zoffy, as the intersection there doesn’t stay empty!
The best thing about the statue just to the north of the station is that you can get up close and personal with it. It’s a whole lot easier to take a selfie with Ultraman standing on a pedestal near the ground, as opposed to being mid-flight overhead. And who doesn’t want a snapshot with their favorite superhero?
After you’ve soaked up the glimmering red and silver heroicness of Ultraman outdoors, it’s time to head indoors to Cafe Melody with the “Ultraman’s Shop Shot M78” (open noon to 17:30). It’s about a five minutes’ walk west from Soshigaya-Okura Station on the north side of the tracks. Keep your eyes peeled on the left side of the street for the cartoonish Ultraman sign.
Not only do they have more Ultraman merch than just about anywhere else, there’s a large projector screen playing Ultraman non-stop. Especially on a hot day, nothing could beat chilling in the cool cafe with an ice-cold beverage, directing a miniature drama or ventriloquizing commentary with your newly-purchased Ultraman finger puppets.
Visitors looking to get active after relaxing in the cafe can opt to walk to Kinuta Park, but be advised that it’s best to go with GPS or a good map. You could actually spend most of a nice day at Kinuta Park – it’s that big, with an art museum, lots of fun playground equipment for children, and plenty of shade for everyone. There are joggers, cyclists, picnickers, couples playing badminton, and people taking naps (I was one of them). Especially if you have kids in tow, consider visiting Kinuta Park on a separate day. It’s the perfect escape from city congestion.
The closest train station to Kinuta Park is Yoga Station. It’s a pleasant walk along a tiled street. Follow the signs pointing you in the direction of the station, because there are several turns.
Directions to “Ultra Town”
To get to Soshigaya-Okura, take the Odakyu Odawara Line from Shinjuku. The fare is 220 yen for adults, and you’ll need to take the local train since the rapid and express trains don’t stop at Soshigaya-Okura. The ticket machines are pretty easy to understand, with an English button on the top right.
Be sure to check which platform the local train leaves from. When I went it was the bottom-most level, two floors down in the elevator.
For more information → http://www.odakyu.jp/english/