While most tourists stick to Tokyo‘s central and west areas, the eastern side of the city also has much to offer in terms of sightseeing for those who are interested in neighborhoods with a more ‘local’ feel to it. Yanesen is the perfect example of such an area. Having been spared the firebombings of WW2, you can still sense Tokyo’s past in this quaint residential district in central-east Tokyo. Yanesen consists of 3 smaller areas: Yanaka, Nezu, and Sendagi.
While most tourists tend to stick to areas like Asakusa, Ginza, Shibuya, and Harajuku, if you have 2 days or more to spend in Tokyo or if you simply prefer quieter areas, Yanesen should definitely be on your list. It is a residential area without large buildings but with many single-family homes and small businesses that have sometimes been in the area for generations that give the neighborhood its character. Traditionally, artisans have been living in this part of town so you can find many small art galleries, specialized restaurants, snack shops, and shops selling pottery and textiles.
It is enjoyable to stroll through the area’s calm backstreets and pop in a temple’s garden here and there. The nickname of the neighborhood is ‘the neighborhood of 100 temples’, which is actually pretty close as there are 117 temples here. Most of the temples are between 100 and 300 years old, and many of them are very well maintained with beautiful gardens and usually no other visitors.
Yanesen is a great area for foodies as well, whether you like street food or small and specialized traditional restaurants, this neighborhood has you covered. Yanaka Ginza is one of the best places to get your fix of delicious street food; takoyaki, yakitori, small fried pork cutlet, roast squid pancake, and sweet taiyaki are just a few examples of what you can eat here.
If you want a sit-down meal, Yanesen has especially many small coffee shops and family-owned restaurants where you can eat traditional Japanese food. Great examples of this kind of eateries are Kayaba Coffee, Himitsudo, and Kamachiku.
Nezu Shrine is not only one of Tokyo’s oldest shrines, but it is also one of the most beautiful ones. There is a long line of red torii gates on the shrine’s grounds that is reminiscent of Kyoto‘s Fushimi Inari, there are many trees and plants, and there is a koi pond. If you come in April you are in luck, as this is when the grounds are covered in pink and white azalea flowers.
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If you are thinking about making a trip to Japan, as seasoned Japan experts we can help you create your perfect Japan tour, including destinations like Yanesen. Contact us to start planning your unforgettable holiday to this fascinating country full of once-in-a-lifetime experiences, culture, history, nature, and delicious food!