Saturday, December 3, 2011

Exploring Tokyo: Yanaka

Tokyo is full of hidden secrets, and the historical neighbourhood of Yanaka is one of them.

On this slightly rainy Saturday, I boarded the Yamanote line train on a quest for a little adventure. Yanaka is an old, traditional area of Tokyo, and is quite unknown to tourists. As I wandered out of Nippori station, it took me a little while to find it (me and my excellent sense of direction, and too busy playing Scrabble on my phone), but eventually I stumbled upon a narrow street, full of (mostly elderly) people. I found myself in the midst of a busy Saturday afternoon, surrounded with vegetable markets, food stalls, outdoor pubs, coffee brewers, textile shops, secondhand clothing stores, and traditional wooden toys and Japanese paper fans.

I had such a delightful afternoon on my own, sitting down for the cheapest espresso I have ever found in Japan (¥190), trying out some famous Japanese fare, and stopping at all the shops in awe. Yanaka is also home to many beautiful shrines and temples, and for a few hours, I felt like a took a trip back in time, in the old Tokyo world.

I highly recommend stopping by Yanaka if you ever find yourself in Tokyo, for a much-needed breather out of Shibuya, and to sample some amazing (and cheap!) traditional dishes. My sightseeing adventure turned out to be a complete snack fest, and it was one of the best Saturday afternoons I have had in Japan.

Nippori station: Even the outside is historical

One of the many temples in Yanaka

Hebi-Michi, "Snake street". It's safe.

Different types of rice

Yanaka Coffee and their beans

Espresso at Yanaka Coffee, cheap and delicious

Flower shop

Cheap bento boxes


Handmade doughnuts

Japanese pottery

Best croquette ever!!

Cat-themed shop

Autumn leaves

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