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Tokyo's Yanesen: 15 Places to Visit in Yanaka, Nezu, and Sendagi

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Yanesen, short for Yanaka, Nezu, and Sendagi, is a popular area in Tokyo with nostalgic streetscapes and lovely family-owned shops. We introduce the best places to visit and things to do, including the quaint Yanaka Ginza shopping street, a cherry blossom viewing spot, cafes, and more!

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Explore Tokyo's Yanesen Area

Located near JR Nippori Station and the Ueno district in Tokyo, the popular neighborhoods of Yanaka, Nezu, and Sendagi are collectively called Yanesen.

Read on to learn some of the best places to visit in Yanesen, from cafes to traditional shopping streets.

15 Places to Visit in Yanesen

Yanaka
1. Yanaka Ginza Shopping Street
2. Yanaka Cemetery
3. Tokyo Kitsch Yanaka
4. Yanaka Matsunoya
5. Yanaka Kenshindo
6. Kayaba Coffee
7. hanare
Nezu
8. Nezu Shrine
9. Ryokan Sawanoya
10. HOTEL GRAPHY NEZU
11. Waguriya
Sendagi
12. Amezaiku Yoshihara - Sendagi Main Shop
13. Cafe Neko-e-mon
14. OSAJI Yanaka
15. Nippori Fabric Town
Tokyo Yanaka Walking Tour

Yanaka: Quaint Shopping Streets with Hidden Gems

Yanaka has a retro flavor. It's also known to the locals as "temple town," or "cat town."

1. Yanaka Ginza Shopping Street

Tokyo's Yanesen: 15 Places to Visit in Yanaka, Nezu, and Sendagi

Photo by Pixta
Yanaka Ginza is a shotengai, or shopping street, located just five minutes from JR Nippori Station's west exit on foot.

Tokyo's Yanesen: 15 Places to Visit in Yanaka, Nezu, and Sendagi

Photo by Pixta

This shopping street is lined with 70 shops along its 170-meter length. Its fruit and vegetable shops are a local favorite, and the many souvenir shops make it the perfect place to find a gift or souvenir. There are also shops that serve taiyaki (*1) and kakigori, or shaved ice.

If you stop by for a visit, you'll be able to enjoy the cozy and comfortable atmosphere that's unique to this area.
*1 taiyaki: a fish-shaped pancake filled with sweet bean paste.

2. Yanaka Cemetery

yanaka cemetery

The Yanaka Cemetery area is popular as a cherry blossom viewing spot. During the sakura season, many people walk along the quiet streets and gaze up at the cherry blossom petals gently floating in the wind.

3. Tokyo Kitsch Yanaka

yanaka

Tokyo Kitsch Yanaka is a souvenir shop specializing in Japanese-style goods. The owner's pet Shiba dog is the shop's star attraction.

Their unique souvenirs include business card holders covered with rush grass, the material used in making tatami mats, earrings in the shape of Japanese characters, and neckties sporting Mt. Fuji patterns!

All items are Made in Japan and feature both practical and fun designs.

4. Yanaka Matsunoya

yanaka

On the left-hand side of Yanaka Ginza's entrance, you'll find Yanaka Matsunoya.

The shop is very particular about selling daily goods made by local craftsmen. By doing so, the shop owners hope that customers will come to appreciate traditional crafts and the high quality of the handiwork.

5. Yanaka Kenshindo

yanaka

Yanaka Kenshindo is both a cafe and a retail shop selling Japanese-style miscellaneous goods.

While gazing out at the activity along the shopping street, guests can enjoy a matcha latte, as well as zenzai and other sweets on the cafe premises. The many souvenirs capture the flavor of Japan and are really cute.

6. Kayaba Coffee

kayaba coffee

Kayaba Coffee is a cafe that first opened in 1938. After temporarily closing, it reopened in 2009 with its original retro atmosphere!

The shop owners want customers to spend a truly relaxing and enjoyable time here and also want young people to enjoy the unique culture of Japanese coffee shops.

Their specialty egg sandwich was recreated from the shop's original menu. Take one bite of the soft, plump eggs and you'll be hooked!

7. hanare

hanare

Formerly a student dormitory, hanare was renovated into a hotel and gallery cafe.

Their concept is "the entire town is your hotel." They offer a unique accommodation style in which guests are encouraged to have lunch and dinner at eating establishments in the neighborhood and take their baths at a local sento (public bath).

The Traveling Breakfast is served in the cafe on the first floor. It uses local ingredients and is very popular.

Nezu: Galleries and Shrines

Home to numerous galleries, Nezu has become well-known as an art spot. Nearby, you'll find Tokyo University's Hongo Campus.

8. Nezu Shrine

nezu shrine

Nezu Shrine has a history spanning some 1,900 years. The haiden (worship hall), karamon gate, and sukibei (wall with lattice work) were built during the Edo period (1603-1868) and are Nationally Designated Important Cultural Properties.

On the shrine grounds, visitors can also enjoy a spot featuring a path lined with many torii gates.

In April and May, the shrine holds its famous Azalea Festival featuring 3,000 azaleas in full bloom.

9. Ryokan Sawanoya

sawanoya

Sawanoya Ryokan is a small, family-run facility. The outside has a nostalgic look and inside there are 12 Japanese-style rooms. It's a popular place with international visitors because you can really connect with Japanese culture.

The cozy atmosphere might even have you saying "I'm home!" when you return after a day of sightseeing.

10. HOTEL GRAPHY NEZU

HOTEL GRAPHY

HOTEL GRAPHY NEZU is a hotel where guests have ample opportunities for social interaction. The hotel provides a wide open common space where guests can meet with each other and others who drop in for a visit.

From the hotel's rooftop, you can get a panoramic view of the surrounding area. During the summer you can also see the nearby Sumidagawa Fireworks Festival.

Sendagi: Famous for Traditional Crafts and Japanese Sweets

Sendagi is famous as a place where the distinguished writer Natsume Soseki once lived. It's lined with rustic shops selling household goods and tools, and also Japanese confectionery shops. It has a laid-back, retro feel to it.

11. Waguriya

sendagi

Waguriya is a chestnut specialty store that's rather unusual even in Japan.

Despite being part of the Yanaka Ginza shopping street, the shop was actually built close to Tokyo Metro's Sendagi Station.

The Mont Blanc is the shop's most popular dessert. The patissier is particular about making this confectionery using only Japanese chestnuts, whipped cream, and sugar. Take a bite and enjoy the aromatic taste of Japanese chestnuts!

12. Amezaiku Yoshihara - Sendagi Main Shop

sendagi

Amezaiku Yoshihara is a shop where you can find amezaiku, or colorful candy crafts. There are only about 40 amezaiku craftsmen left in Japan.

We were told that the owner decided to open this shop so that these specialized amezaiku skills will be passed on to future craftsmen, and so that more people can experience the joy of amezaiku sweets.

On the shop premises there are more than 100 types of candy craft! The most popular include hedgehogs, cats, and rabbits.

13. Cafe Neko-e-mon

coffee

Cafe Neko-e-mon is a cafe where you can paint your own maneki-neko, or beckoning cat. Cakes are made into the shapes of cats, including a white cat non-baked cheesecake and a black cat Mont Blanc (see photo above).

They are so cute that it feels almost like a waste to eat them!

14. OSAJI Yanaka

OSAJI

OSAJI Yanaka is a shop that offers cosmetics that are especially gentle on sensitive skin. Just like Waguriya, it's in the part of Yanaka Ginza that's located in the Sendagi Station area.

The shop also sells beverages. In the summer, they serve milkshakes containing amazake, and in the winter you can try the warm amazake. Based on their motto, "healthy and good for your skin," this drink menu is popular with visitors.

15. Let's Venture Out to Nippori Fabric Town

nippori

In the Yanesen area, we also recommend the famous Nippori Fabric Town.

In addition to the fabric from every corner of the world and throughout Japan, the shop is also lined with ribbons, leather, and other handicraft supplies. For people who enjoy making things by hand, this shop is like heaven!

If you're in luck, you might even run into a sumo wrestler looking for fabric to make his next yukata (*2).

*2 Yukata: an unlined kimono-like piece of clothing usually made of cotton that was formerly worn as a bathrobe. Nowadays people often wear them at festivals and other summer events.

Tokyo Yanaka Walking Tour

yanaka

The Yanesen area offers a glimpse of Tokyo's Showa era (1926-1989). Spared from air raids during World War II, this area boasts numerous well-preserved old buildings and ancient temples.

With this guided tour, you can wander through the winding alleys, savor local delicacies, and gain insights into the rich history and culture of this charming locale.

Explore Tokyo's Charming Yanesen Area

The Yanesen area exudes a vibrant shitamachi (Tokyo's low-lying areas) atmosphere and is also becoming a hub for a new trend of specialty shops established by young entrepreneurs. This seamless integration reflects the enthusiasm and hard work of the local residents.

During springtime, consider visiting Yanaka Ginza Shopping Street for delectable snacks, taking a stroll through Yanaka Cemetery to admire the cherry blossoms and seek out cute cats, exploring Textile Street to discover materials for your DIY projects, and revel in a delightful and fulfilling half-day excursion!

Main image by Pixta

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miho

東京

Born in Taiwan. Currently living in Tokyo. Currently editor in chief of MATCHA's Taiwanese website. In the past, I worked as an editor for a Japanese fashion magazine, as a Japanese language teacher at a private high school in Taipei, as an interpreter for Shiseido and other Japanese and Taiwanese companies. I've also had experience as an inbound tourism copywriter. My Facebook page 'Tokyo beyond studying abroad' 東京、不只是留學(留学だけじゃなくて)boasts 120,000 followers. Blogger with readers from Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Japan, of which 70% are female readers. I have covered over 300 locations and stores in my articles. Writing about the latest trends, places off the beaten path, and traditional culture. Published six books on Japan in Taiwan and Asia. Facebook → https://www.facebook.com/filmmiho/ Instagram → @mihowang47
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