Experience the Working Class Charm! How to Enjoy Yanesen
Yanesen is a popular tourist destination that retains visages of the good, old working class neighborhoods of Tokyo. Here are 5 recommended destinations in Yanesen.
1. What is Yanesen?
Yanesen refers to the Yanaka, Nezu and Sendagi areas that spread across the two wards of Bunkyo and Taito. They are historic areas that retain much of the atmosphere and charm of Tokyo's working class neighborhoods. With many new shops opening amidst townscapes that preserve visages of the good, old working class neighborhoods, the areas have become a popular destination in Tokyo for a stroll. These areas also have many temples and shrines, so that you can feel the nostalgic yet contemporary charm of working class neighborhoods when walking around in them.
Yanaka Cemetery, famous for its beautiful cherry blossoms
These Himalayan cedars that are more than 90 years old are icons of the Yanaka area.
2. Nezu Shrine
Nezu Shrine is an ancient shrine that Yamato Takeru, a legendary hero of ancient Japanese history, is said to have founded approximately 1,900 years ago. It is considered to be one of the Tokyo Ten Shrines. The current structure was built in 1706, and the seven shrine buildings are designated as Important Cultural Properties of Japan. There is a rhododendron garden spanning approximately 6,600 square meters on the grounds, and approximately 3,000 bushes of 100 varieties bloom in the spring to the delight of visitors.
3. Asakura Museum of Sculpture
Asakura Museum of Sculpture was the studio and home of Fumio Asakura, a sculptor active from the Meiji period to the Showa period. The building, which Asakura designed and supervised himself, consists of a modern reinforced concrete studio and traditional wooden residence, and is renowned as a superb architectural work that skillfully combines elements of Western and Japanese architecture. There is a beautiful Japanese garden, "Goten no Suitei," on the grounds which can be viewed from the second and third floors of the residence. The museum has much to see including exhibits of Asakura's works, a library with valuable books, and a tea room and reception room that were designed with great attention to detail. The garden has flowers that bloom year round, so you can enjoy a beautiful view regardless of when you visit.
4. Ueno Sakuragi Atari
The retro space that suddenly appears in a residential neighborhood about 15 minutes on foot from Ueno Station is Ueno Sakuragi Atari. It is a multi-use complex made by reconstructing three old houses that were built more than 80 years ago. It includes shops such as Yanaka Beer Hall, where you can enjoy craft beer from Yanaka; OshiOlive, which specializes in salts and olive oils; and Kayaba Bakery, run by the popular Yanaka coffee shop, Kayaba Coffee. In addition, there are community spaces called Your Zashiki and Your Roji, for food and art events and for people to socialize. The comfortable atmosphere that somehow feels familiar even on the first visit is unique to the working class neighborhood. This is a recommended location where you can enjoy interacting with locals.
5. Yanaka Ginza Shopping Street
Yanaka Ginza Shopping Street is a commercial street about 170m long several minutes on foot from JR Nippori Station. There are approximately 70 unique shops, many of which are family owned. The best way to enjoy Yanaka Ginza is to try the food. There is a wide selection, including freshly fried croquettes, donuts modeled on cat tails, and "chonmage imo," sesame covered sweet potatoes, so it's fun to walk where the scent takes you, and to go back and forth wondering what to try. The stairs leading from Nippori Station to Yanaka Ginza Shopping Street is called "Yuyake (Sunset) Dandan" because it is a great location to sit in the evening and enjoy a beautiful sunset over Yanaka Ginza. The street food will taste even better with a lovely sunset view.
The Yanesen area, which retains visages of the past, has many more attractive destinations. Please walk around to find your favorite spot.
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.
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