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3 Tokyo Neighborhoods You May Not Know

Trunk Hotel Lobby and Bar Tokyo Japan

Asakura Museum of Sculpture

Tokyo is a metropolis all the time on the transfer and perpetually altering.  It had been three years since I final visited and I needed to get out of the grid of the standard neighborhoods like Shinjuku, Shibuya and Ginza. I used to be trying to go deeper, to discover non-touristy neighborhoods that be a part of with the town’s extra conventional areas to provide Tokyo its distinctive character.

Listed here are three of my favorites: Yanaka, Shimokitazawa referred to as “Shimo-kita” by locals and Kurumae.  Every has a particular high quality and one thing fascinating to supply.


Nearly untouched by warfare bombings and earthquakes, Yanaka is Tokyo’s most conventional neighborhood. Its tranquil winding lanes are residence to artisans, outlets handed down by means of generations, good eating places, dazzling temples and—in springtime—an abundance of cherry blossoms.

Initially a part of the Kaneiji Temple, Ueno Park is a spotlight of Yanaka. The park is understood for its quite a few museums, together with: the Tokyo Nationwide Museum, the Nationwide Museum for Western Artwork, the Nationwide Science Museum, and the Tokyo Metropolitan Artwork Museum, in addition to the 35-acre Ueno Zoological Gardens, Japan’s oldest zoo (opened in 1882), and well-known for its big pandas.  Ueno Park can also be some of the well-liked spots to see the cherry blossoms in spring, with greater than 1,000 timber lining its central ­pathway.

One other spotlight of Yanaka is SCAI The Bathhouse. This former public bathhouse turned artwork gallery is a captivating juxtaposition of previous and current. A nondescript white exterior leads into an austere vaulted gallery area showcasing the work of Japanese and worldwide artists. Be sure you take a look at the previous lockers within the gallery entrance that are operated by a picket key mechanism—one other fascinating nod to the property’s historical past.

Yanaka Conventional Buiding

Head to the Asakura Museum of Sculpture for a take a look at the work of Fumio Asakura, thought-about to be the daddy of recent Japanese sculpture. Make sure to add a cease at Artwork Sanctuary Allan West to your wanderings. Right here you’ll discover the works of American artist Allan West, who got here to Japan to review nihonga (conventional Japanese portray), underneath the instruction of grasp Kayama Matazo. He’s made Yanaka his residence, the place he continues to comply with his ardour creating nature-themed work.

Asakura Museum of Sculpture

Temples are plentiful in Yanaka and Tennoji is probably the most well-known. Based in 1274, the temple homes a centuries-old sitting Buddha and a tranquil small backyard. It is among the final remaining refuges for the Tendai sect of Buddhism.

You’ll almost certainly work up a thirst whereas exploring the neighborhood and two of one of the best locations to quench it are housed in charming picket homes. Kayaba Espresso has been round over 50 years making it a standard kissaten—a Japanese espresso home that additionally serves consolation meals. Should you’re in search of one thing stronger than espresso, Yanaka Beer Corridor gives a number of brews on faucet together with a Yanaka Lager that may solely be discovered there.


Need to grasp with the cool youngsters? Head to Shimokitazawa the place the Bohemian vibe is stronger than maybe some other neighborhood. Tokyo-ites confer with this space with one phrase:  chaos. The streets run in a maze and are lined with hole-in-the-wall eateries, hipster espresso outlets, second-hand clothes shops, indie movie theaters and reside music venues.

Shimokitazawa’s retro really feel is tied to its historical past. It started as a farming group and later reworked right into a residential group after the Nice Kanto Earthquake, when Tokyo residents fled to the countryside. After surviving the air raids of WWII, the world turned a US second-hand marketplace for troopers. Remnants of that also exist immediately. The youth motion within the 1970s offered its ultimate transformation to the Bohemian utopia it’s immediately, with the introduction of rock, jazz and blues venues. Then in 1982, with the opening of an enormous theatre, Shimokitazawa turned a theatre neighborhood. Be sure you take a look at the Honda Gekijo Theatre which provides productions from established and profitable author and administrators. Additionally, a few five-minute stroll away, you’ll discover the Tollywood Brief Movie Theater, the place to catch brief movies by younger Japanese and worldwide animation administrators.

Shimokita Road- Azuma Dori


Located inside strolling distance of the vacationer district of Asakusa and Tokyo Skytree, Kuramae has turn into a neighborhood of craftspeople. Artisans have inhabited this space because the Meiji Interval offering it with a contact of retro allure—harking back to New York’s Soho within the 1980s. An abundance of showrooms supplies a glimpse of the neighborhood’s wealthy artisan historical past. Yuichiro Murakami spent years mastering the Italian artwork of leatherworking right here. You’ll discover a choice of lovely luggage, wallets and equipment at his store, M+.

Proto Tableware Store in Kurumae

At Maito Kuramae, designer and instructor Maito Komuro’s store options knits, shirts, luggage, pouches and an assortment of products created by way of two foremost ideas: “pure supply” and “made in Japan.”  All threads are coloured with pure and plant-based dyes to supply an array of shades. Seasonal workshops can be found for a hands-on expertise of the method.

Situated on the second flooring of a warehouse constructing, Proto Kuramae showcases pottery and artwork from artisans all through Japan. The gathering of picket bowls was irresistible—I purchased three! Ink Stand by Kakimori is a haven for anybody who longs for the times of pen and paper. This boutique writing store provides an expansive assortment of pens. You may as well make a custom-made pocket book and even create the right ink shade.

Whenever you’re prepared for refreshment, Kuramae has loads of espresso outlets and cafes to oblige. Browse a number of leather-based items at Digital camera when you wait on your espresso and meals. When you’re craving conventional Japanese confections, Eikyudo is the place for you—they’ve been serving quite a lot of wagashi sweets since 1887.

Tokyo is a type of locations the place you’re all the time discovering new issues in acquainted neighborhoods like Ginza, Shibuya and Shinjuku. It might be a problem to enterprise past them to find new elements of this huge metropolis, however whenever you do it’s well worth the effort.  In any case, that’s the enjoyable of touring.

The place to Keep:

The Peninsula Lodge – Inside strolling distance of Ginza purchasing and reverse the Imperial Palace and Hibiya Park within the Marunouchi district, the Peninsula Lodge is fantastically situated and provides commanding views of the Tokyo skyline. Trendy luxurious meets conventional design right here. The lodge marks its 10th anniversary because the Greatest Lodge in Tokyo for 2017; there are 5 distinctive eating places, an award-winning spa, and an eclectic assortment of transportation decisions starting from Rolls-Royces to helicopters.  1-Eight-1 Yurakucho, Chiyoda-ku Tokyo, +81 Three 6270 2888;

Hoshinoya Tokyo – With indoor scorching springs and Kenjutsu classes, a Saki lounge and a tea ceremony workshop, the Hoshinoya is modeled after conventional Japanese inns often known as ryokan, giving the extremely trendy facilities an anachronistic twist. There exists an outlined melding of modernity and time-honored customs proper inside the lodge partitions (full with your personal private kimono). Although, if the town beckons, sightseeing excursions—starting from helicopter to rickshaw—are a telephone name away. 1-9-1 Otemachi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, +81-Three-6214-5151;

Trunk Lodge – Lately opened within the Shibuya neighborhood, the bespoke Trunk Lodge is a brand new addition to Tokyo’s design lodge scene. Housed in two four-story buildings, options embrace recycled woods, tiered balconies, indigo patchwork wall hangings and monochromatic loos. There’s a transparent give attention to native and eco-friendly all through the property which additionally supplies made-in-Japan facilities, visitor rooms stocked with dried fruits from a close-by Shibuya fruit store and a fleet of custom-made up-cycled previously deserted bicycles.   5-31 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo; +81-Three-5766-3210.

Trunk Lodge Foyer and Bar – Photograph by Jeff Greif

The place to Eat:

Tetchan Yakitori Bar – This basement yakitori bar was designed by architect Kengo Kuma and Associates utilizing all recycled supplies. The sensation is harking back to black market stalls after World Warfare II. 1 The bottom flooring’s bar has acrylic stools and there are edgy murals on the partitions.  Chome-1 Kichijōji Honchō, Musashino-shi, Tōkyō-to; +81 422-20-5950

Tetchan-Restaurant Designed by Kengo Kuma & Associates Architects interior-tokyo-japapTetchan-Restaurant Designed by Kengo Kuma & Associates Architects – Photograph Courtesy of Erieta Attali

Tetchan-Restaurant Designed by Kengo Kuma Architects Tokyo JapanTetchan-Restaurant Designed by Kengo Kuma & Associates Architects – Photograph Courtesy of Erieta Attali

Frankie Melbourne Espresso – If it’s time for a espresso break in Shimokita that is your home … a relaxed environment situated steps from the Shimokitazawa station. For many who favor much less caffeine Frankie created scrumptious chilly pressed juice blends made to order.  The Basic Melbourne Chai can also be successful. 2-12-15 Setagaya-ku, Kitazawa, +81 Three 6356 5305; 

The place to Drink:

Flower Bar Gardena – A flower present and cocktail bar in a single.  Flowers are everywhere in the bar and out entrance you’ll be able to even buy them. This can be a very groovy spot in Shimokita. 2 Chome-34-6 Kitazawa, Setagaya-ku, +81 Three-6638-8714

Yanaka Beer Corridor – This craft beer institution with a 1950’s really feel serves native brews on faucet. 2-15-6 Taito-Ku

What to See and Do:

Allan West Gallery – Go to the atelier of American born artist Allan West who has lived in Japan for over 30 years producing artwork utilizing Japanese methods.  Guests can see West at work and buy his artwork onsite.  1-6-17 Yanaka, Taito-ku, +81 Three-3827-1907;

Artist Alan West Studio Yanaka Tokyo JapanThe Artist Alan West in His Studio – Photograph by Jeff Greif

Alan West Art Yanaka Studio Tokyo JapanWorks by Alan West – Photograph by Jeff Greif

SCAI the Bathhouse – This gallery in an previous bathhouse is among the main unbiased galleries in Tokyo. The one room construction homes Japanese modern artists.  Since 1993 SCAI The Bathhouse seeks to perform as a gathering place of varied currents in modern artwork, each in Japan and overseas, and to play a number one and accountable position within the artwork scene.   6-1-23 Yanaka, Taito-ku; +81 Three-3821-1144;

Asakura Museum of Sculpture – The works of Fumio Asakura, a up to date Japanese artist, are housed right here.  Asakura was fascinated by cats and also you’ll discover quite a few sculptures of them on this small museum.  7-18-10 Yanaka, Taito-Ku, +81 Three-3821-4549;

Yanaka Cemetery – A serene space within the coronary heart of Yanaka located on 25 acres with over 7,000 graves.  Admire the cherry blossoms in peace on a spring go to. 7-5-24, Yanaka, Taito-Ku

Ueno Zoological Gardens – Japan’s oldest zoo and well-known for its big pandas.

Ueno Zoological Gardens Entrance Tokyo JapanUeno Zoological Gardens Entrance – Photograph Courtesy of JNTO

Calligraphy Museum – The museum incorporates many examples of Japanese calligraphy collected by Fusetsu Nakamura, a well-known calligrapher within the 19th century.  Probably the most treasured work is over 1,300 years previous. 2-10-Four Negishi, Taito-ku, +81 Three-3872-2645;

The place to Store:

Proto Kuramae – Lovely artisan picket bowls and ceramics from throughout Japan. You’ll find certainly one of a sort items right here.  Situated on the second flooring, this sparse showroom shows their merchandise on tables and shelving models on a naked stone flooring. It’s Japan at its most artistic. Four-20-12 Kuramo, Shihua Constructing, Taito-ku, +81 90-6931-8779;

M+ – Small regionally made leather-based items. Nakao Constructing, Three-Four-5, Kuramae, Taito-ku, +81 Three 5829-9904

Rainbow Soko Three – A five-story warehouse with galleries and outlets promoting every little thing from stationery to surfboards. 2-19-5 Kitazawa, Setagaya-ku, +81 70-6671-6268;

Flamingo – Shimokita is legendary for classic clothes outlets and this is likely one of the largest and thought of top-of-the-line. It’s on a number of flooring; you’ll discover every thing to suit your groove.フラミンゴ-世田谷区-2

Ink Stand – This store jogged my memory of the sort of outlets you present in New York’s Soho within the early 80’s. There’s an enormous array of coloured ink to combine your personal shade, plus all types of pens and paper on supply. Even in case you don’t make a purchase order it’s enjoyable to go in and check out the fountain pens.  Four-20-12, Kuramaeville, Taito, +81 5 50-1744-8547;


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