Despite Tokyo being a huge metropolis, it is surprisingly pleasant to walk around. One walk that is especially enjoyable and pretty popular is around JR Nippori Station in an area known as “Yanaka.”
Yanaka is nice because it is a part of Tokyo where you can feel a “shita-machi” atmosphere. Shita-machi are neighborhoods that have a nostalgic feel of old Tokyo. They are areas where the buildings are all cramped together and are filled with shops and a sort of neighborly familiarity. I like them because it lets you forget that you are in a giant city.
Yanaka was spared from the WW2 bombing and thus kept most of its nostalgic charm
↑An old-fashioned rice store
↑There used to be a famous 5-storied pagoda here until 1957, when two lovers decided to commit double suicide in front of it and burn it to the ground. The city decided against rebuilding the pagoda. Nowadays you can just see the foundation stones of the building.
The cemetery is especially popular in the spring when the cherry blossoms are blooming and line the main street.
One of the cemetery’s most famous residents is the last shogun of the Edo period. His grave is marked in English and there should be signs. To those who are unfamiliar with what Japanese graves look like, this might be interesting to even see the lines of graves.
Asakura Museum of Sculpture:
Close to the cemetery is the home of a famous Japanese sculptor. You can see his home and his works at this museum. It is 500 yen to enter; closed Monday and Friday. Open 9:30-4:30pm.
Yanaka Ginza is the main goal for many people visiting this area. Yanaka Ginza is an old-style shopping street that is completely filled with shops, some of which have foods that you can buy and walk around with to eat. There are also many different handicraft stores where you can find some nice, unique items.
This is also a good place to grab lunch. There are many popular restaurants in the area. Below is some soba from a random soba noodle restaurant in the area.
One very famous restaurant that is good for a hot day is Himitsudo. It serves up original shaved ice in various flavors. (Be aware that you will probably have to line up)
Check the site for the seasonal flavors: http://himitsudo.com/ (Japanese only)
↑Image from Tabelog
There is a hill near Yanaka Ginza where if it is a clear day out, you can see Mt. Fuji peeking through the buildings. Unfortunately if it is not clear out it may be hard to see it. But I have spotted Fuji several times from areas farther away from Yanaka, so it might be worth it to stop by for a peek.
Scai The Bathhouse
Tuesday – Saturday 12:00 – 18:00
To the other side of cemetery, on the way to Nezu Shrine is Scai The Bathhouse, an old-fashioned neighborhood bathhouse that has been converted into an art gallery. It is free for you to go inside and check out the art.
Another popular spring destination because of the abundance of azaleas that bloom here. There is an azalea festival every spring. Nezu Shrine would be a good place to end your little walking tour of the area because the Nezu subway station is right near the shrine.
BUT! If you are feeling up for even more walking I would suggest taking another 15 minutes to make your way over to Ueno Park