Start you day from Nippori Station and walk towards the west until you reach the famous 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.
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.
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.
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 areas 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.
Before you head back to towards Ueno, check out EXPO, a hidden vintage shop selling anything from eccentric clothes, to old cameras, radios and rare finds from all over the world as well as Kayaba Coffee, a quiet café with a second floor tatami room which has been catering to locals since 1938.
Towards the southwest of the park you will find Shinobazu Pond with its lily pond, temple and swan boats which can be rented all year round and are an especially popular dating spot.
Finally, finish your day at the ever-popular Ameyoko Market past Ueno Station, which is the perfect place to hunt for cheap clothes, cosmetics, snacks or fresh fish and vegetables for those looking for a lively, open-market atmosphere. The small restaurants and taverns along the market also offer reasonably priced meals and drinks and are filled with tourists and locals until late in the evening.