Bryce was born in California, and raised near Seattle, Washington! He’s been living in Japan for about 5 years now, the first 3 spent studying at Temple University Japan. His main passion in life is writing and producing music, more specifically EDM if anyone is curious! He is very fond of snowboarding, cooking, traveling, playing video games; all of which he’d ideally enjoy with the company of his great friends.
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Japan is often regarded as a highly futuristic country with incredible implementation of technology into its infrastructure, services, products, and much more. Tokyo is an exceptional example of this and can be more or less explained by its astonishing population density; more people in a smaller area calls for extensive efficiency. The density not only lies within the population but also physical features. Tokyo may be the one of the only cities in the world where you can find a 400 year old shrine on the same street as a restaurant with robots as servers. Thus, places like Yanaka can exist in this massive concrete jungle. If you love the well preserved, old fashioned places in Japan, then you can’t miss all of the nostalgic elements in this part of Tokyo. Head back in time and enjoy the character of the 40s and 50s with the best things to do in Yanaka that include unique food, shopping, and long standing architecture!
- 1. Go Shopping
- 2. Yanaka Beer Hall – Old House Turned Bar
- 3. Take Some Memorable Pictures at Yuyake Dan Dan
- 4. Enjoy the Lush Nezu Shrine
- 5. Come Hungry and Grab Some Street Food
- 6. Find Peace and Quiet in the Cemetery
- 7. Himitsudo – Shaved Ice to Remember
- 8. The Quintessential Kissaten: Kayaba Coffee
- 9. SCAI the Bathhouse
- 10. Asakura Museum of Sculpture
- Japan Wonder Travel Tours in Tokyo
- Recommended Articles
1. Go Shopping
The Yanaka Ginza area is a classic shopping area filled with old-school vibes. The area is as lively and functional as it is preserved. This rustic atmosphere lends itself to both locals and visitors alike. Throughout Japan places like this that retain a kind of traditional, nostalgic vibe are frequented by people around the world, but are sometimes a cliche among residents. This is one place where locals often enjoy the fun and gather with their friends and neighbors to sustain those lively and rustic vibes. There are lots of things you can buy here from clothes to trinkets to handcrafts.
2. Yanaka Beer Hall – Old House Turned Bar
Keep those good vibes going with some fresh beer! The Yanaka Beer Hall offers their own brand in various styles of craft beer, perhaps considered “Ji-beer”, in a building very much in line with the atmosphere of Yanaka Ginza. Grab a fresh one from the tap at the wooden counter on the first floor or go to the second floor to enjoy it on some Tatami mats. The building actually used to be just a normal home built in 1938, and though it has since been repurposed as Yanaka Beer Hall, it still retains its traditional elements immaculately.
3. Take Some Memorable Pictures at Yuyake Dan Dan
Literally “Sunset Staircase”, this vantage point called Yuyake Dan Dan is the perfect way to snap a great picture to show everyone not only what a cool place you went to, but also to capture a great example of how the old fashioned and futuristic vibes coincide. The Tokyo skyline in the background with the humble yet bustling shopping street at the bottom of the staircase is surely a memorable picture, especially at sunset, hence the name.
4. Enjoy the Lush Nezu Shrine
One of Japan’s oldest shrines is also in the area and is a great stop for anyone that admires shrines or Japanese history. Not only has the shrine been around for a very long time, it is also beautifully lush and vibrant considering its location in such a metropolitan area. The shrine combines its array of foliage with ponds filled with fish to create a serene atmosphere. It also hosts a quite popular Azalea festival that boasts over 3,000 plants in a variety of styles.
5. Come Hungry and Grab Some Street Food
Yanaka is a great place to go on an empty stomach. There are plenty of things to try, especially street food, available here. Some notable snacks are Senbei, or rice crackers, and Imagawayaki, Taiyaki’s older sibling (a sort of filled pancake type of sweet snack). Other foods include the meat croquettes at Niku no Suzuki, the grilled rice balls at Hokkodo, or the Takoyaki at Takoba, to name a few. You’ll certainly have no trouble finding something to enjoy. Make sure you stop by Echigoya for some beer and Sake too!
6. Find Peace and Quiet in the Cemetery
Similar to Nezu Shrine, the Yanaka Cemetery also boasts an unmissable amount of lush foliage. The combination of cherry blossoms as well as Ginkgo trees makes this a great place to visit in both the autumn and the spring. While it may be quite botanical and beautiful, you’ll never forget that it is a cemetery with around 7,000 graves. If you’re looking for peace and quiet, the size of the cemetery can almost guarantee you won’t be running into many others!
7. Himitsudo – Shaved Ice to Remember
Shaved ice is quite the delicacy in Japan, which may be a little surprising to some. If you’re around in late spring or the summer, you’ll notice an abundance of shaved ice vendors- or at least signage, sprouting up in various places. As with nearly anything you’ll find in Japan, there is at least one store that is absolutely dedicated to specializing in it. Himitsudo has its stake in shaved ice, that’s for sure! Visit this unique store in Yanaka to get ice shaved by a traditional machine and topped with a seasonal topping of the 132 that are rotated throughout the year.
8. The Quintessential Kissaten: Kayaba Coffee
If you’re studying Japanese and you’ve come across “Kissaten” in your vocabulary assignments and have been led to believe that it simply means “cafe” like some others, then you’ll be surprised to know that there are some critical differences! If you’re not really into coffee then it may not matter too much… but if you are, it’s good to know that a Kissaten is more of a retro, traditional experience. They often offer a much different variety of coffee preparation styles and foods than your modern cafe. Kayaba is a great example of a Kissaten and offers some great treats! It actually closed in 2006 and was petitioned to reopen by the public, resulting in its reopening in 2008.
9. SCAI the Bathhouse
Maybe a little tired of all the old fashioned stuff? Well actually there is a pretty remarkable art gallery nearby! Of course, it’s not a complete escape from the old fashioned vibes as it’s inside a 200 year old bathhouse, but it does feature some pretty incredible contemporary art! It’s undeniably a cool place to check out while you’re in the area.
10. Asakura Museum of Sculpture
Enjoying the art more than you thought you would, or want to just look at another kind of art? No problem there, actually the Asakura Museum of Sculpture is nearby! This 3 story establishment is dedicated to all sorts of sculptures. The estate used to be the residence of a famous studio sculptor named Fumio Asakura and is now repurposed to display his art. He lived from 1883 to 1964 and established the studio in 1908. Complete with gardens, ponds, and some work from other artists, there is plenty to check out.
Japan Wonder Travel Tours in Tokyo
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▶Tokyo Fish Market Tour @Tsukiji – Enjoy Local Food and Drink
Explore the most lively and popular fish market in Tokyo, where you will have the chance to try some of the local’s favorite street foods and sake along with your friendly English-speaking guide!
▶Tokyo 1–Day Highlights Private Walking Tour (8 Hours)
There’s no better way to explore an area than taking a tour with a knowledgeable local guide. You will have the chance to learn about the history and interesting background stories of Tokyo, as well as discover some hidden gems which can be hard to do without a guide.
▶Asakusa Local Bar Hopping Tour (Evening Tour)
Visit some of the local’s favorite Izakaya and bars and enjoy Tokyo’s drinking scene with your friendly guide. You will visit a few fun bars to introduce you to Japanese sake, food, and monja-yaki (one of Tokyo’s specialties). Kampai (cheers)!
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