It would be understandable to think that the go-to place for Japanese food or groceries in Philadelphia was in the city’s Chinatown. The neighborhood is a melting pot of cultures. But, consider that New York City’s go-to Japanese marketplace is Mitsuwa Marketplace located across the Hudson River in Edgewater, New Jersey. It turns out that Philly’s Japanese hot spot is in Ardmore at Maido, a marketplace and a restaurant.
Last spring, my husband and I started watching the Grand Sumo Tournament Highlights that NHK World aired. It’s a roughly 25 minute recap of the best matches of the day. We were hooked. As with so many things in life where you make assumptions without knowing all the facts, sumo wasn’t quite as straightforward. I can only speak for myself, but what I felt had always been depicted as two very overweight men pushing each other actually had a lot more nuance. Since then we haven’t dared miss a day of highlights. That’s why attending a sumo tournament is on My Must See List.
Every time that I visit the Mitsuwa Marketplace in Edgewater, New Jersey, I have goals. I want to have a nice Japanese lunch (and it’s difficult to pick between the tendon bowl and the ramen). I want to do some grocery shopping (the shabu shabu beef makes darn good Philadelphia cheese steaks). Finally, I want to select a few different Japanese candies to try. Preferably matcha flavored sweets. It can be especially difficult to know what exactly you are getting with some of the sweets if you can’t read Japanese. So I wanted to share a few of the treats that I’ve picked up over the course of several trips to Mitsuwa.
For the United States, and perhaps much of the Western world, Times Square is our central reference point when we refer to a large, busy, crowded intersection. It’s a site that draws people together, whether it be to watch the infamous crystallized ball “drop” on New Year’s Eve or simply to gawk at the larger than life signs that made the otherwise normal street into an animated zone. In reality, however, Japan’s Shibuya Crossing is the “real” Must See that I aspire to visit.
If you think you aren’t already familiar with Shibuya Crossing, you’re almost certainly wrong. The multi-directional crossing is a common go-to in any movie set in Tokyo or Japan. When those traffic lights change, masses of people swarm the streets to cross.
If you’re looking for a taste of Tokyo in the United States, it would be understandable to look to San Francisco’s Japantown. The Bay Area neighborhood is the largest Japanese community outside of Japan. But what about those of us on the East Coast? You would be forgiven for assuming New York City would be the place to be. The city does, of course, have a thriving Asian community. But for shopping you might want to look outside of the five boroughs. Instead, Edgewater, New Jersey’s Mitsuwa Marketplace is where you want to be.