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Sunday Strolls in Yanesen, Tokyo's Traditional Hidden Gem

Wedy here,

Are you in search for a break away from the hustle and bustle of modern Tokyo? Then jump into the past by visiting one of Tokyo’s older neighbourhoods, Yanesen.

Yanesen Fun Facts:

  • Yanesen is actually made up of three neighbourhoods; Yanaka, Nezu and Sendagi.

  • With the area being nestled between three temples, Yanesen has maintained its traditional feel, with many buildings retaining their Edo period features.

  • The cemetery in Yanesen is of cultural importance, with many historical figures and celebrities buried within the grounds.

things to do:

take in the atmosphere of the historic streets

Step back in time with the backstreets of Yanesen. Image source: Author’s Own Image

Step back in time with the backstreets of Yanesen. Image source: Author’s Own Image

From Ueno Station, start your trip down traditional Tokyo lane, by strolling down one of the many streets in Yanesen. With the area luckily escaping major damage from earthquakes or WW2, you can still soak up the atmosphere of traditional Japan. Walk down one of the winding back alleys to enjoy everything Yanesen has to offer; wooden houses, beautiful winding trees, and cats! Yanesen is famed for its stray cats, but don’t be alarmed, locals regularly feed them. Don’t forget to stop off at any old style sweet shop, you won’t be disappointed by the choice, all home made, of course!

have a bite to eat and a coffee at kayaba coffee

Kayaba Coffee in Yanesen, be prepared to queue outside, this is a popular spot with locals and tourists alike. Image source: Author’s Own Image

Kayaba Coffee in Yanesen, be prepared to queue outside, this is a popular spot with locals and tourists alike. Image source: Author’s Own Image

Make sure you stop off at Kayaba Coffee for a coffee and cake. This family run business has been captivating the locals since 1938 with its selection of coffee and cakes. The cafe also oozes charm with its wooden frame and traditional rooftops.

Anmitsu, a traditional dessert and a must have whilst in Yanesen. Image source: Author’s Own Image

Anmitsu, a traditional dessert and a must have whilst in Yanesen. Image source: Author’s Own Image

Anmitsu not to your taste? How about a slice of Matcha Cake? Image source: Author’s Own Image

Anmitsu not to your taste? How about a slice of Matcha Cake? Image source: Author’s Own Image

Do you want a slice of cake with your coffee? Well, you should. The desserts at Kayaba Coffee are nothing but fabulous. There is a small selection of cakes but you can forgive the small choice when they LOOK. THIS. GOOD. Don’t be fooled thinking they’re all looks and no flavour, these taste great too. Whether you’re in the mood for a traditional anmitsu (a dessert comprising of agar jelly, red bean, peas, fruit and ice cream), or a matcha cake, you can’t go wrong with these sweet treats from Kayaba Coffee. They’ll leave you craving seconds, or thirds, or forthsies.

Just be prepared to queue for your cake; there’s often a queue outside waiting to be seated, especially on weekends. We were lucky that when we arrived late Sunday afternoon there was no queue, but it didn’t take long for one to form behind us.

take in the atmosphere of yanaka cemetery

Don’t forget to pay your respects at Yanaka Cemetery. The cemetery is one of the largest in Tokyo, with over 7000 graves, many of which are celebrities and politicians. Yanaka cemetery holds high cultural significance in Tokyo’s history, and is meticulously maintained by locals; there is even a Police Box on site to keep the cemetery safe.

Visit Tennoji Temple to pay your respects

The Buddha in Tennoji Temple is of great cultural significance in the Shinto religion. Image source: Author’s Own Image

The Buddha in Tennoji Temple is of great cultural significance in the Shinto religion. Image source: Author’s Own Image

It’s not surprising to hear that Yansen has a large selection of temples to visit. I recommend you visit Tennoji Temple, located just on the edge of Yanaka Cemetery. Tennoji Temple is home to one of the few Giant Buddha statues in Tokyo. Feel free to connect with your inner-self, or spend a moment in reflection at this Temple, as it’s not spoilt by noisy tourists or busy traffic passing by.

finish by tasting some sake and street food at Yanaka Ginza

Don’t forget to visit Yanaka Ginza for a taste of traditional Tokyo. Image source: Author’s Own Image

Don’t forget to visit Yanaka Ginza for a taste of traditional Tokyo. Image source: Author’s Own Image

Finish your Sunday stroll by stopping off at the most popular street in Yanesen, Yanaka Ginza for some excellent street food and sake. Don’t let the popularity of this street put you off, it captures the essence of traditional Tokyo perfectly. Whether you’re looking for a small trinket, a kimono (or yukata), or some delicious street food, Yanaka Ginza is for you. Visit a local stall and treat yourself to some Amazake, a traditional drink made from fermented rice and alcohol (imagine an alcoholic rice pudding and you’ll be on the right lines) and find a quiet spot to sit and people watch as you enjoy the unusual feeling that someone spiked your rice pudding, but in a good way.

So that’s it Wedy fans, I hope you enjoy my guide to Yanesen. It’s a real hidden gem of Tokyo, and one not to be missed.


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So that’s all for now folks,

I’ve been Wedy Jones.

Keep it Real, Keep it Nippon.


Details:

Kayaba Coffee:

  • Address: 6-chōme-1-29 Yanaka, Taito City, Tōkyō-to 110-0001 (Open in Maps)

  • Opening Times: 8:00-18:00 (Open until 21:00 Friday & Saturday)

Yanaka Cemetery:

  • Address: 7-chōme-5-24 Yanaka, Taito City, Tōkyō-to 110-0001 (Open in Maps)

  • Opening Times: 8:30-17:15 (but grounds are open 24/7)

Tennoji Temple:

  • Address: 7-chōme-14-8 Yanaka, Taito City, Tōkyō-to 110-0001 (Open in Maps)

  • Opening Times: 8:00- 16:00

  • Entrance: Free

Yanaka Ginza Street

  • Address: 3-chōme-13-1 Yanaka, Taitō-ku, Tōkyō-to 110-0001 (Open in Maps)

  • Opening Times: 8:00-18:00


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