- Marina Tsuji
20 Recommended Tourist Spots in Nihonbashi: From Standards to Hidden Gems!
Nihonbashi is an area where the traditions and culture of the Edo period (1603 - 1868) remain to this day. It is a charming neighborhood that retains and revives the old while also creating and disseminating the new. You will find many tourist spots here that should not be missed, such as famous restaurants with lines out the door, department stores designated as Important Cultural Properties, and museums for art and learning. Out of all the attractions available in Nihonbashi, here are the top 20 to put on your bucket list!
- About Nihonbashi
- 1. Enjoy a Tempura Bowl at Kaneko Hannosuke
- 2. Experience Japan's Food Culture Through Lunch at Nihonbashi Dashi Bar
- 3. Enjoy an Unaju Made with Only the Best Unagi at Nihonbashi Idumoya
- 4. Enjoy a Parfait at the Fruit Parlor of Sembikiya's Main Store
- 5. Visit the Luxury Brand Boutiques in Nihombashi Takashimaya
- 6. Enjoy Shopping at Nihombashi Mitsukoshi Main Store
- 7. Enjoy a Fluffy Castella at BUNMEIDO CAFE
- 8. Stroll Around the Approx. 70 Shops of COREDO Muromachi
- 9. Learn About the History of Japanese Money at the Bank of Japan Currency Museum
- 10. Take a Photograph with the Kirin of Nihonbashi
- 11. See Valuable Collections of Works at the Mitsui Memorial Museum
- 12. Pay Your Respects at Fukutoku Shrine
- 13. Take a Cruise from the Nihonbashi Boarding Dock
- [January 1-7: Get Your Blessings from the Seven Deities of Good Luck in Nihonbashi]
- 14. Pray for Children and Safe Childbirth at Suitengu Shrine (Benzaiten)
- 15. Pray for Protection Against Disaster at Chanoki Shrine (Hoteison)
- 16. Boost Your Luck at Kasama Inari Shrine (Jurojin)
- 17. Improve Your Chances of Winning at Suehiro Shrine (Bishamonten)
- 18. Pray to Win the Lottery at Suginomori Shrine (Ebisuten)
- 19. Receive Blessings at Matsushima Shrine (Daikokuten)
- 20. Pray at the "Shrine for Good Luck", Koami Shrine (Fukurokuju, Benzaiten)
Nihonbashi, which flourished as a castle town during the Edo period, was the starting point of the Gokaido—the collective name for five major roads that connected every region of Japan—and the center of commerce in Japan where merchants and tradesmen from around the country gathered. Back then, its size was said to rival Paris or London! There are clear vestiges of the culture and characteristics of the time in its five areas: the Muromachi area, home to several historic buildings; the Yaesu area, filled with restaurants; the Yokoyama-cho, Bakuro-cho, and Higashi Nihonbashi wholesale districts; the Kabuto-cho and Kayaba-cho financial districts; and the Ningyo-cho and Hama-cho area where the chonin (name of a social class, usually referred to merchants and tradespeople) culture blossomed.
1. Enjoy a Tempura Bowl at Kaneko Hannosuke
Just one minute on foot from Exit A1 of Mitsukoshimae Station, Kaneko Hannosuke is a famous shop with huge lines out the door of people coming to enjoy its outstanding tendon (tempura rice bowl). It is located in a quiet alley off the main street of Muromachi, an area filled with historic buildings. At this restaurant, you can savor the ultimate tendon that was created by finding the perfect ingredients to go with the secret Edo-style rice bowl sauce that Hannosuke Kaneko, who had a passion for Japanese cuisine, left behind. The Edomae-Tendon (980 JPY (incl. tax)), which is a realization of Hannosuke's passion for a reasonably priced, sophisticated, and filling tendon, is a voluminous dish with fresh anago (conger eel), shrimp, and squid procured from the market every morning. It is topped with a soft-boiled egg.
2. Experience Japan's Food Culture Through Lunch at Nihonbashi Dashi Bar
Nihonbashi Dashi Bar is a restaurant serving food made with the ultimate dashi (soup stock). It is run by Ninben, a katsuobushi (dried bonito) company with a history of 320 years, and is located on the first floor of COREDO Muromachi 2, a shopping mall just two minutes on foot from Exit A6 of Mitsukoshimae Station. Its interior is decorated in a tasteful way that evokes a sense of old Japanese traditions and sophistication. There are three set meals available at lunchtime. There's the Monthly Dashi Takikomi Gozen (2,040 JPY (incl. tax)), a popular set meal that's only available in limited quantities. It consists of rice cooked in dashi, a side dish, and dessert. Then there's the Dashi Bowl Gozen (1,020 JPY (incl. tax)) that offers a choice of Japanese or Western style soup, both of which are filled with various ingredients. Finally, there's the Ichiju Sansai Gozen (1,220 JPY (incl. tax)), a set meal that comes with one soup and three side dishes, which consist primarily of fish or meat.
3. Enjoy an Unaju Made with Only the Best Unagi at Nihonbashi Idumoya
Nihonbashi Idumoya is an established unagi (freshwater eel) restaurant that was founded in 1946. The main portion of its flagship restaurant is situated within the same building as when the restaurant was opened and has a calm, traditional feel to it. It is just three minutes on foot from Exit A8 of Mitsukoshimae Station. Only the best ingredients are used here, with each being carefully prepared by hand to maximize the umami of the unagi. When broiling the unagi in a technique known as "kabayaki", they use a secret sauce that has been added to since the restaurant was founded. This perfectly blends together the umami of the unagi with the light taste of the sauce and the aroma of the sansho peppers used. The result is a gorgeous unagi kabayaki laid on top of white rice, the Unaju (from 3,080 JPY (incl. tax)). The Shirayaki, wherein the unagi is grilled without seasoning and enjoyed with fresh wasabi and their secret enhanced soy sauce, is also recommended!
4. Enjoy a Parfait at the Fruit Parlor of Sembikiya's Main Store
Founded in 1834, Sembikiya is a fruit shop that pioneered Japan's fruit culture. On the second floor of its Nihonbashi Main Store, located one minute from Mitsukoshimae Station using an underground passage, there's a chic fruit parlor decorated in tones of white. At this parlor, you can enjoy the ultimate sweets made by skilled pastry chefs using high-quality fruits carefully selected from around the world. The one thing to try here is a fruit parfait. The Sembikiya Special Parfait (2,310 JPY (incl. tax)) and Muskmelon Parfait (3,300 JPY (incl. tax)) are particularly popular.
5. Visit the Luxury Brand Boutiques in Nihombashi Takashimaya
Nihombashi Takashimaya, which became the first department store building to be designated as an Important Cultural Property in 2009, was renovated and reopened in March 5, 2019 as a new urban shopping center. There are four unique buildings to enjoy shopping in: the Main Building, with new additions such as the relaxing Rooftop Garden and the educational Takashimaya Shiryokan TOKYO; the Annex, which has more than 100 boutiques, including several overseas brands' first Japanese outlets; the East Building that houses the iconic Pokémon Cafe; and Takashimaya Nihonbashi Watch Maison, which has a wide selection of clocks and watches, including top brands and rare items. It is in a great location that's directly connected to Nihombashi Station on the Ginza and Tozai lines.
6. Enjoy Shopping at Nihombashi Mitsukoshi Main Store
Nihombashi Mitsukoshi Main Store is on a main road in Muromachi, an area where many historic buildings remain, and is just one minute on foot from Mitsukoshimae Station. The main building, which is a stately, Renaissance-style structure, was designated as an Important Cultural Property in 2016. The two lion statues in front of the entrance to the main building are considered to be a symbol of Mitsukoshi, and over time the area has become a popular meeting spot. The store sells a wide selection of items, including cosmetics, jewelry, clothing, and even gofuku (the general term for Japanese textiles) which hark back to Nihonbashi's history. A Bic Camera store will open here in the spring of 2020 as the only consumer electronics store in the Nihonbashi area.
7. Enjoy a Fluffy Castella at BUNMEIDO CAFE
BUNMEIDO CAFE is a cafe and restaurant managed by the long-established confectionery store "BUNMEIDO" that was founded in 1900. It is located one minute on foot from Mitsukoshimae Station. The inside is made up of multiple seating areas, such as a chic cafe area decorated in tones of white as well as a terrace seating area where you can enjoy views of a small garden. Regardless of where you're seated, you can enjoy their fluffy castella (Japanese sponge cake) lovingly baked using techniques that have been handed down for over 100 years. The recommended menu item is the Special BUNMEIDO Castella Selection (880 JPY (incl. tax)), which comes with a piece each of their moist and rich Special Gomi Castella and their Special Honey Castella Ginsho, a treat with a particularly soft, almost creamy texture.
8. Stroll Around the Approx. 70 Shops of COREDO Muromachi
Operating on the concept of "Nihonbashi, enlivening Japan", COREDO Muromachi is a shopping complex with well-established stores that represent the history of Nihonbashi, shops that sell outstanding food and products selected from around the country, a movie theater, and a multi-purpose hall. "COREDO" is a word that was created by combining the English word "core" and Edo, the old name for Tokyo, and COREDO Muromachi is a place from which everything new is combined with Japanese history and traditions before being shared with the rest of the world. One shop not to miss in COREDO Muromachi is Imoya Kinjiro. It is hugely popular for its sweets made with Japanese sweet potatoes, such as Imo Kenpi (strips of candied sweet potato) and Sweet Potato (Japanese sweet potato mashed and baked with butter and sugar). An additional building, COREDO Muromachi Terrace, opened in September 2019. It is in a great location that's directly connected to Exit A6 of Mitsukoshimae Station.
9. Learn About the History of Japanese Money at the Bank of Japan Currency Museum
The Bank of Japan Currency Museum, which is a one minute walk from Exit B1 of Mitsukoshimae Station, opened in 1982 to commemorate the Bank of Japan centennial. Its exhibition consists of about 3,000 items, including historical and cultural materials, actual money that was used in the 8th century, and actual gold coins (oban in Japanese) that used during the Edo period. It is a popular place to learn about the history of money in Japan and around the world in the financial center of Nihonbashi. There are audio guides in English that can be played on your smartphone to help you get the most out of the museum. It will take around 30 minutes to an hour to see the entire museum. Admission is free.
10. Take a Photograph with the Kirin of Nihonbashi
The Nihonbashi Bridge, which was the starting point of the Gokaido, has a pair of kirin (a mythical hooved chimerical creature) statues that were erected when the wooden bridge was replaced by a stone one. Although kirin do not have wings, these two were given wings to represent the desire that "they fly across Japan from this point, the starting point of roads in Japan". They are now considered to be icons of Nihonbashi and are frequently photographed by tourists. The statues are about 80m from Exit B9 of Nihombashi Station.
11. See Valuable Collections of Works at the Mitsui Memorial Museum
The Mitsui Memorial Museum exhibits approximately 4,000 art and craft works and about 130,000 stamps that the great Edo period merchant family, the Mitsui family, collected over 350 years. There is a wide range of arts and crafts centering on tea ceremony tools, including paintings, calligraphy, and swords—six of which are National Treasures and 75 of which are Important Cultural Properties. The Mitsui Main Building, in which the museum is housed, is also designated as an Important Cultural Property and is characterized by its stately, Western-style architecture. It is located one minute on foot from Mitsukoshimae Station. Admission is 1,000 JPY for adults, 500 JPY for college and high school students, and free for junior high school students and younger.
12. Pay Your Respects at Fukutoku Shrine
Surrounded by buildings, Fukutoku Shrine is right next to COREDO Muromachi and is a one minute walk from Exit A6 of Mitsukoshimae Station. It enshrines the deity for great harvest and it is affectionately referred to as "Mebuki Shrine" (mebuki means "to sprout"). During the Edo period, it was one of the few shrines that was given the right to issue "tomikuji", which was the precursor to today's "takarakuji" (lottery). As such, it is also famous as a shrine to improve financial prospects, with many people visiting to pray for luck with the lottery. It is open to visitors all day, but goshuin (temple and shrine seals) are only given between 10:00 am and 3:00 pm.
13. Take a Cruise from the Nihonbashi Boarding Dock
Nihonbashi is linked by the Nihonbashi River to some of Tokyo's iconic waterways, including the Kanda River and the Sumida River. The Nihonbashi Boarding Dock was built in 2011 to commemorate the centennial of the completion of the Nihonbashi Bridge's 20th incarnation. From it, you can board a wide selection of cruises to enjoy the area's old Edo scenery. There is the Nihonbashi River Course that goes under the Edo Bridge, which is the largest bridge crossing the Nihonbashi River; the Sumida River Course, where you can see the Kiyosu Bridge, an Important Cultural Property that was built to emulate a German suspension bridge; and the Tokyo Bay Course, where one can admire the Kachidoki Bridge, another Important Cultural Property that was built using state-of-the-art technology. The dock is a one minute walk from Exit B6 of Mitsukoshimae Station.
[January 1-7: Get Your Blessings from the Seven Deities of Good Luck in Nihonbashi]
The "Nihonbashi Shichifukujin Meguri" is a pilgrimage around shrines dedicated to Shichifukujin that occurs between January 1st to the 7th every year. "Shichifukujin" is the general term for seven deities that have been worshiped since about 500 years ago, and worshiping at shrines dedicated to all of them is said to protect one from misfortune and bring in happiness. The Shichifukujin shrines in the Nihonbashi area are close to each other, so this Shichifukujin pilgrimage takes the least time in all of Japan. It is a popular activity as it grants the opportunity to visit the shrines while enjoying the downtown atmosphere around Ningyocho Station. Here are the seven shrines where the Nihonbashi Shichifukujin are enshrined!
14. Pray for Children and Safe Childbirth at Suitengu Shrine (Benzaiten)
Suitengu Shrine is located about a minute's walk from the Exit 5 of Suitengumae Station. It is a famous shrine where people go to pray to be blessed with children as well as for safe childbirth. It is especially popular on Inu no Hi (literally "day of the dog"; a specific day each month where expecting mothers wear a maternity belt and go pray at shrines for safe childbirth), to the point where entry is controlled. The amulet for safe childbirth at Suitengu Shrine is a belt called "Misuzu Obi". The Fuku Inu amulet that represents a dog, thought to give birth easily and have many births, is also popular. The shrine is dedicated to Benzaiten, the only female deity among the Shichifukujin. Benzaiten is also a deity for success at school and in financial matters.
15. Pray for Protection Against Disaster at Chanoki Shrine (Hoteison)
Chanoki Shrine is located one minute on foot from Exit 8 of Suitengumae Station. It is affectionately referred to as "Ochanoki-sama" by locals and is dedicated to Hoteison, popularly worshiped as a deity for matrimonial happiness and the blessing of children. Because the shrine is situated in an area that once housed a lord's mansion that never caught fire, it is also worshiped as a shrine for fire prevention. There is no shrine office, so a tent is set up to offer goshuin stamps during the Nihonbashi Shichifukujin Meguri (January 1-7) every year.
16. Boost Your Luck at Kasama Inari Shrine (Jurojin)
Kasama Inari Shrine, located four minutes on foot from Exit A2 of Hamacho Station, is the Tokyo branch of Kasama Inari Shrine in Ibaraki Prefecture, which is one of Japan's three great Inari shrines. It is dedicated to the deity for food and agriculture, and has long been worshiped by a wide range of people, including merchants and common folk. Jurojin, who is the deity for longevity, guidance, and luck, is enshrined as its guardian deity, so it is recommended for those who want to boost their luck.
17. Improve Your Chances of Winning at Suehiro Shrine (Bishamonten)
Suehiro Shrine is a two-minute walk from Exit A3 of Ningyocho Station. During the Edo period, it was worshiped as the patron shrine of Yoshiwara (a licensed red-light district). It enshrines Bishamonten, the only deity among Shichifukujin dressed as a warrior. Bishamonten is known to improve luck in battles and other contests, as well as help ward off evil and maintain good health.
18. Pray to Win the Lottery at Suginomori Shrine (Ebisuten)
Suginomori Shrine, located five minutes on foot from Exit A5 of Ningyocho Station, was founded about 1,000 years ago. It still retains various historical records, such as ancient rituals to pray for rain. Enshrined here is Ebisu-sama, the deity for prosperous business. Because tomikuji were conducted on its grounds during the Edo period and there is a stone monument with the word "tomitsuka" (meaning "lucky mound") on it, the shrine is famous as a place to pray for luck with the lottery.
19. Receive Blessings at Matsushima Shrine (Daikokuten)
Matsushima Shrine is located two minutes on foot from Exit 7 of Suitengumae Station. It is an unusual shrine where 14 deities are honored in one place, leading to a quiet influx of people visiting to enjoy multiple benefits in one visit. Although Daikokuten, the deity enshrined here, is worshiped as the deity for destruction and good harvest, most people tend to revere it as a deity for good harvest today.
20. Pray at the "Shrine for Good Luck", Koami Shrine (Fukurokuju, Benzaiten)
At Koami Shrine, located a five-minute walk from Exit A2 of Ningyocho Station, both Fukurokuju (the deity for health and longevity) and Benzaiten (the deity for prosperous business and success in arts and sciences) are enshrined. In recent years, it has become famous as a shrine for good luck and warding off evil. It has also earned the moniker of "Tokyo Zeniarai Benten" for its well where you can wash money to boost your financial luck. It is the most crowded shrine of the seven during the New Year, so be sure to allocate extra time to visit.
This article introduced 20 spots not to miss in Nihonbashi, a neighborhood of tradition and innovation! Make plans to enjoy Nihonbashi in your own way, be it through yummy foods unique to Japan, museums for art and learning, or shopping.
*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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