Yanaka, Nezu and Sendagi strongly keep the same old shitamachi (downtown) atmosphere. It is called Yanesen taking the first kanji character from these three areas. Many people are attracted to shopping streets, historic sites and back alleys in this area. Here are carefully selected places to see in Yanese.
Stroll in Yanaka Cemetery filled with historical atmosphere
Yanaka Cemetery is located within a short-walking distance from Nippori Station. It opened in 1874 as a public cemetery, and there are many famous people including scholars and artists resting in this vast ground of about 25 acres. Temples are dotted nearby and they are also worth seeing. There are rows of cherry blossom trees standing along the central passage of the cemetery and in spring, you can see them beautifully blooming. If you get hungry after a stroll in the cemetery, walk to the shopping street. (C) Tokyo Metropolitan Park Association
Yanaka Cemetery 谷中霊園
- Address 7-5-24 Yanaka, Taito-ku, Tokyo 110-0001, Japan
Eat around at Yanakaginza Shopping Street
After you walk along the Gotenzaka for 10 minutes from the cemetery, you will arrive at Nakayaginza Shopping Street. The stairs that lead you down to the shopping street is called Yuyake-dandan and from there, you can see a beautiful sunset. There are about 70 private shops standing along the short street of about 170 meters long. The place is filled with many tasty food including menchi-katsu (fried cake of minced meat), ikayaki (grilled squid), Japanese style sweet potato (confection made from sweet potato) and shaved ice with syrup. When you finished eating around, go shopping for the Japanese miscellaneous goods next.
Isekatsu for Japanese traditional crafts
After you walk through Yomise-dori Street from Yanakaginza for about 5 minutes, you will reach the main street. If you walk towards the police booth, you will find Isetatsu at the corner. Isetatsu was established in 1864. It was originally the publisher of nishikie (color print) and chiyogami (decorative paper with colorful patterns or figures). Things to buy here is Edo chiyogami. Edo chiyogami features brilliant colors that are printed on a traditional Japanese paper with woodblocks with patterns curved on, and there are many sophisticated designs that are coming from Edo culture at the time. You can purchase small items made with Edo chiyogami as well as other items that strongly reflect Japanese traditional culture. When you are done with shopping, it's time to have lunch.
- Address 2-18-9 Yanaka, Taito-ku, Tokyo 110-0001, Japan
Special udon noodles at Sanuki-udon Nenotsu
After you walk through Shinobazu Dori from Isetatsu to the southwest direction for about 10 minutes, you will find Sanuki-udon Nenotsu. If you truly want to enjoy udon noodle, order a cold udon noodle dish. Udon noodles here feature smoothness, fluffiness and firm springiness. The good aroma that drifts about when udon noodle is served is from the wheat flour. If you would like some warm udon, order Kama Mentai Butter. It is topped with spiced cod roe, butter, beefsteak plants, lavers and white pepper; mix them well before you eat. If you add grated cheese, it’s so good that you won't be able to stop eating. Kamonegi Udon topped with duck meat and scallions is also popular. When you are satisfied, head to Nezu Shrine next.
Sanuki udon Nenotsu 讃岐饂飩 根の津
- Address 1-23-16 Nezu, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113-0031, Japan
Visit the historic, solemn shrine, Nezu Shrine
Stepping out from Nenotsu and proceeding to the right, you will find a red, big shrine gate. Nezu Shrine is said to be built about 1900 years ago. Main building of the shrine that was completed in 1706 is worth visiting. The place didn’t get any damage during the WWII and the seven buildings that include shrines and karamon (large gate with triangular gables) have been designated as a national important cultural properties.
The sight of many shrine gates of Otomeinari Shrine standing one after the other are very impressive. Also, there are about 3,000 azaleas at Tsutsuji-en (azaleas garden), and they bloom around mid-April to the end of April. When it is time to go, head to Nezu Station on Chiyoda Line. It’s also recommended to grab some Japanese sweets such as taiyaki (fish-shaped pancake filled with red bean paste) and daigakuimo (candied sweet potatoes) on the way to the station.