Exploring the famous shitamachi area of Yanesen

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* Shitamachi is the “downtown” area of Edo-period Tokyo that flourished with creative artisans and merchants.

Course: Yanesen >> Mud wall of Kannon-ji Temple >> Nezu Shrine >> Kyu-Iwasaki-tei Gardens

Yanesen is the collective name for the Yanaka, Nezu, and Sendagi neighborhoods. It’s a great area to explore on foot and see the remnants of the shitamachi atmosphere of good old Tokyo—the traditional Japanese townscape and the friendliness and hospitality of the residents living there—all in the heart of the metropolis. This course takes a stroll through the classic shopping street, the symbolic mud wall of Kannon-ji Temple, and a famous shrine and gardens.

10:00 JR NIPPORI STATION NORTH EXIT TICKET GATES

10:20 Map: 1Yanaka Ginza Shopping District

Many eateries offer croquettes and yakitori to munch as you go.

11:00 Map: 2YANESEN TOURIST INFO

Grab a map at the information center for foreign tourists. It offers sightseeing tips and also helps with traditional-culture experiences (in the English language only).

Walk      120 minutes
Grab a map and let’s explore Yanesen. The Sakura-dori Street inside the Yanaka-reien Cemetery is stunning during springtime. Just in the vicinity is SCAI THE BATHHOUSE, a public bathhouse that was turned into a modern art gallery, and Amezaiku Yoshihara, a shop that offers delicate and colorful amezaiku (Japanese candy sculptures) and they will even demonstrate sculpting the candy right in front of you. Map: 4The former Yoshidaya sake shop still retains the architecture of an Edo mercantile house.

13:00 Map: 3MUD WALL OF KANNON-JI TEMPLE

The mud wall serves as a symbol of Yanaka as a “temple town” from the Edo period.

14:00 Map: 5Nezu Shrine

The shrine is celebrated for the sublimity of its main building, and for the 3,000 shrubs of azaleas in spring.

Walk      10 minutes
 

15:00 Map: 6TOKYO METRO CHIYODA LINE NEZU STATION EXIT 1

Train      7 minutes (Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line local service for Yoyogi-Uehara)
 

15:07 Map: 7TOKYO METRO CHIYODA LINE YUSHIMA STATION EXIT 1

Walk      3 minutes
 

15:10 Map: 8KYU-IWASAKI-TEI GARDENS

Iwasaki-tei was the residence of Hisaya Iwasaki, the third president of the Mitsubishi group from the late Edo to Meiji periods. The entire premises, including the house built in 1896, are designated an important cultural property. This house was designed by British architect Josiah Condor, who studied Japanese painting in Japan, took a Japanese wife, and remained a dedicated lover of Japan until his death in 1920.

Walk      3 minutes
 

17:30 TOKYO METRO CHIYODA LINE YUSHIMA STATION EXIT 1

Model course Exploring the famous shitamachi area of Yanesen is displayed on a larger map

The red lines indicate trains and subways, blue lines are buses and cars, green lines are for walking, pink lines are for bicycles, purple lines are ships and water buses.

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