Yanesen is located in the northeast area of Tokyo including three districts: Yanaka, Nezu, and Sendagi. It is one of Tokyo’s old neighborhoods and the feeling of the past still lingers within the land. Low-rise wooden houses, old shrines and temples attest to the passing of time and how things used to be in the past.
Today, Yanesen is a great place to get in a touch of the traditional Japanese culture. There are plenty of things to do while you’re here and many places to explore. A quaint place that will help you relax and enjoy your short vacation. Make sure to check out these 10 things to do in Yanesen while you’re there!
1. Enjoy street food at Yanaka Ginza Shotengai (Shopping Street)
Yanaka Ginza Shotengai (Shopping Street) is a cute little shopping street that has been around for a very long time. You can casually take a stroll here and pick a few souvenirs of your visit. Some cafes and stores that sell snacks like croquettes and menchi-katsu that has a local taste. The 170 meters long shopping street is trying its best to cater to both locals and tourists alike.
Address: 3-13-1 Yanaka, Taito-ku, Tokyo
Website: https://www.yanakaginza.com (Japanese Only)
2. See the Sunset at Yuyake Dandan
Yuyake Dandan also known as the “Sunset Stairs” is one of the landmarks of Yanaka. It is found on the way to the Yanaka Ginza Shopping Street and gives a good view of the shopping street and the surrounding area. During the day, it acts as a gateway that people traverse to go and shop in the shopping street. At night, you can find people holding cameras trying to get the best shot of the sunset as the sky is covered in crimson colors.
Address: 3-13-1 Yanaka, Taito-Ku,Tokyo
Website: https://www.city.arakawa.tokyo.jp/kanko/kankojoho/spot/nipporichiiki/yuyakedandan.html (Japanese Only)
3. See beautiful cherry blossom trees at Yanaka Cemetery
The Yanaka Cemetery is quite popular among the locals and tourists alike, especially when the cherry blossoms are in full bloom. While it may sound weird to enjoy this seasonal attraction in a cemetery, that doesn’t stop the crowd from admiring the flowers as they paint the place in shades of pink. A nice place to take a peaceful walk and enjoy the scenery. Of course, you should be respectful and mindful of your actions because it is after all, still a cemetery.
Address: 7-5-24 Yanaka, Taito-ku, Tokyo
4. Visit Nezu Shrine with countless Torii Gates
The Nezu Shrine is a tourist attraction because of the countless “torii gates” that can be found within its grounds. This Shinto Shrine is the main shrine in the Nezu area, and the torii tunnel is definitely its main highlight. While it may not be as impressive as the one in Kyoto, it still has its own charm and the scenery that surrounds it is beautiful. Not to mention, it is less crowded compared to the other famous shrines in the area, making it a good place to take some high-quality pictures in peace. The best time to visit is from mid-April to early-May, when the azaleas are in full bloom.
Address: 1-28-9 Nezu, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo
5. Participate in Plum Festival at Yushima Tenjin Shrine
The Yushima Tenjin Shrine attracts crowds of people when the Ume Matsuri (Plum Festival) takes place. It is also known as the “Shrine of Scholars.” Like all Tenjin shrines, students who are about to take their exams go here to pray for the hope of getting passing grades. The festival takes place in February, when the plum blossoms showcase their beauty to everyone. A beautiful little temple that gives you a good first impression.
Address: 3-30-1 Yushima, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo
Website: http://www.yushimatenjin.or.jp/pc/ume/index.htm (Japanese Only)
6. Participate in Bunkyo Azalea Festival (Tsutsuji Matsuri) at Nezu Shrine
The Azalea Festival (Tsutsuji Matsuri) is one of the main events in Nezu shrine during mid-April to early-May. The shrine has over 3,000 roots and 100 varieties of Azalea that will not fail to captivate the crowd. The azalea garden is truly a sight to behold. The different colors meld perfectly together to create a scenery that is akin to fairy tales. If you have time, make sure to take a look at this once a year celebration.
Address: 1-28-9 Nezu, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo
Website: http://www.nedujinja.or.jp/tutuji/t.html (Japanese Only)
7. Appreciate Contemporary Art Exhibitions at SCAI THE BATHHOUSE
SCAI THE BATHHOUSE is a unique gallery where different works of art are on display for anyone to look and behold. While the art-style may not appease everyone, certain people that appreciate unique concepts will find the gallery quite interesting. It is a nice place to visit if you’re looking for art that doesn’t go with the norms.
Address: Kashiwayu-Ato, 6-1-23 Yanaka, Taito-ku, Tokyo
8. Taste Creative Japanese Candy at Amezaiku Yoshihara
Amezaiku Yoshihara is an amazing place where you can enjoy art and sweets together. Japanese confectionery has always been a great souvenir to bring back home to friends and acquaintances. Now, if that souvenir is a work of art and edible at the same time, wouldn’t that be perfect? Take your time and visit this store to appreciate, and taste the sweets that they have to offer.
Address: 1F, Tomoe-Building, 5-23-21, Sendagi, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo
Website: https://ame-yoshihara.com (Japanese Only)
9. Shop Japanese retro goods at Isetatsu
Isetatsu is one of the few places in Yanaka where you can find traditional Japanese colored paper at its finest. These traditional papers or “Chiyogami” is vibrant and filled with many different patterns and colors that are perfect for origami, home decor, bookbinding and many more. There are other things that you can purchase at the store like notebooks, toys, wash-cloths, prints and a few other things that may catch your fancy.
Address: 2-18-9 Yanaka, Taito-ku, Tokyo
Website: https://www.isetatsu.com (Japanese Only)
10. Paint your own Beckoning Cat at Cafe Nekoemon
Cafe Nekoemon gives you the opportunity to create and paint your very own maneki-neko (lucky cat). They are known as cat shaped figurines that are believed to bring good luck to their owners. One of their paw is always raised as if to invite luck to come your way. Order your favorite snacks and extract your creative juices as you paint your lucky cat to suit your ideal taste.
Address: 5-4-2, Yanaka, Taito-ku, Tokyo
Website: http://yanakado.com/c_nekoemon.html (Japanese Only)
Data is as of April 2019
Thumbnail is from Flickr