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Area Guide

︎Yanaka: Nippori Station (JR Yamanote Line, Keisei Skyliner, etc.)
︎Yanaka Area Google Maps 
︎Best days to visit: sunny days
︎Time needed: one day 


        Look beyond the tourist trap that is Ueno and discover Yanaka, a quiet neighborhood with a small-town feel and old-Tokyo vibe, full of small artisanal cafés and art shops. 

Start you day from Nippori Station and walk towards the west until you reach the famous Yūyake Dandan stairs leading down into Yanaka Ginza - Yanaka’s main shopping district. Here you will find a cluster of small shops ranging from eccentric stores such as Shinimonogurui, a stamp shop which creates custom made Hanko stamps with funny looking animals, to local fish mongers, mom-and-pop stores, art and craft shops and more.

         Head south and you will find popular artisinal cafés such as CIBI or HAGISO which cater to the younger and more design-conscious crowd that is slowly turning Yanaka into a hub for local artists and craftspeople. CIBI is also an amazing breakfast spot,  offering popular breakfast staples such as granola with yoghurt and fruit, avocado toast or egg toast which both come with an outstanding homemade multigrain bread. 

If you are visiting during the warm season, be sure to stop at Himitsudo, an insanely popular shop famous for its kakigori (shaved ice) which the shop serves all year round but is especially refreshing during Tokyo’s hot summers. Even on weekdays, expect a queue in front of Himitsudo, but if you decide to brave the wait, you will be rewarded with a deliciously soft kakigori made from naturally sourced ice from the Nikko region. 

         After exploring the busy shopping streets of Yanaka Ginza, stroll through the beautiful Yanaka Cemetery south of Nippori Station, where you can find the graves of many famous Japanese, such as members of the Tokugawa family, artists, authors, politicians and actors of the Meiji Era as well as the serene Tennoji Temple which is the perfect place for a moment of peacefulness. 

In springtime, Yanaka Cemetery turns into one of Tokyo’s most celebrated cherry blossom spots, when its main road, fittingly called “Sakura Dori,” transforms into an explosion of pale-pink blossoms.

Just to the south of Yanaka Cemetery the road turns into what’s known by locals as the “Rue des Arts” or “Street of the Arts,” where you will find several art galleries such as SCAI THE BATHHOUSE which regularly hosts well-known national and international artists such as Anish Kappor, Tadanori Yokoo and others. 

         Just off of “Rue des Arts” is Ueno Sakuragi Atari, a beautiful small cluster of old Japanese houses which have found their revival thanks to a group of artists and local government funding. Ueno Sakuragi Atari is hands-down our favorite Yanaka spot, hosting not only the delicious Vaner bakery, but also Yanaka beer hall - a perfect stop to indulge in Yanaka’s old town vibe while enjoying a modern drinking and dining experience.

If you want to continue your walk through the quiet side streets of Yanaka, head slightly up the hill to find Mikado, a small, retro food and drink shop at a unique triangular crossing which seems to be lost in a different time and age. This spot is famous for its giant Himalayan cedar tree which is often featured in Japanese TV dramas and was saved by a local community group from being cut down and is now one the area’s most famous points of interest.

Make your way further down the hill and you will come across Nennekoya, a quirky café and shop overflowing with images, figurines and knickknacks of cats - in homage to Yanaka’s most popular animal and certainly a must-stop for any feline fanatic. 

         Vintage lovers will want to check out EXPO and Manekin, two small vintage shop selling anything from eccentric clothes, to old cameras, radios and rare finds from all over the world. A few minutes walk from EXPO is Kayaba Coffee, a quiet café with a second floor tatami room which has been catering to locals since 1938 and a perfect place to soak in some more traditional atmosphere on its second floor tatami room. 

Circle back towards Nippori Station and you will discover the small Kosho Same No Ha bookstore with its beautiful entryway, which sells antique books, postcards and Japanese prints for a bargain. 

Make your last stop just across the street at Sampota Cafe Nombiriya, a small restaurant and café with a showa-era Japanese vibe that serves up some of the area’s most delicious meals (try the coriander gyoza and deep-friend sesame dango) and best atmospheres to end your day in Yanaka-style.

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