There are few things better on vacation than finding a nice, off-the-grid locale. It’s easier than ever to find quiet, unique spots in Tokyo with the help of Japan Wonder Travel! They offer tours all over Tokyo and Kyoto, taking you to destinations big and small. They’re a great resource to turn to for adventurous travelers who want to see all the niche sights Japan has to offer.
I went on their Yanaka Shitamachi Backstreet Spot Tour, a pleasant 1.5-hour excursion to the sleepy Yanaka district, just north of bustling Ueno. I’ll be sharing my experience exploring this charming Tokyo neighborhood, as well as introducing some of my favorite locations from the tour.
Do Ya Know Yanaka?
Yanaka is located in Tokyo’s Taito Ward. You can reach it by getting off at Nippori Station, just a couple stops away from bustling Ueno on the JR Yamanote Line. Even though Yanaka is in the same ward as Ueno, you’d think you were in a completely different city when you compare the two. Yanaka is one of the oldest areas in Tokyo, a result of it avoiding major damage from wars and natural disasters. Many of its buildings are well over 60 years old – a rare sight in modern-day Tokyo! With narrow, winding roads, traditional shops and buildings remodeled into chic cafes and restaurants, there’s plenty to see in this charming neighborhood.
Rain or Shine, it’s Tour Time!
The Yanaka Shitamachi Backstreet Spot Tour starts at Nippori Station. Your tour guide will be waiting for you with an easy-to-see sign at one of the JR exits. Make sure that you arrive on time and that you’ve prepared for the day’s weather; pack drinks, umbrellas, or whatever else you may need!
I met my tour guide Kiyoka at the JR north exit. Two other guests met up with us just before departure, and then we headed out. It was a chilly, rainy day, but that only added to Yanaka’s ambiance and charm. As soon as you step outside, you’ll be hit with a completely new view of Tokyo. Gone are the flashy lights, blaring sounds, and packed roads and stores of downtown Tokyo. Instead it’s all winding streets lined with vintage shops, refurbished cafes and local shrines and temples.
Our first stop was Yanaka Ginza, named after the high-end shopping area in Tokyo. While you won’t find any name-brand shops, there are plenty of local businesses and delicious eateries to check out. You can purchase anything from souvenirs to street food to groceries, all much cheaper than you’ll find in Tokyo’s busier areas.
But shopping isn’t all that Yanaka has to offer. Yanaka is a small area packed with history. It’s home to Yanaka Cemetery, one of the oldest and largest in Japan, and the resting place of famous writers and even the last shogun. The cemetery is also surrounded by cherry blossoms; they weren’t quite in bloom when I went, but they certainly add some serenity to a solemn locale.
Near the cemetery is the picturesque Tennoji Temple, beautifully landscaped with a Buddha statue surrounded by trees. And Tennonji Temple is just one of many temples and shrines you will see on the tour. Being an older area of Tokyo, there are tens of local shrines and temples sprinkled throughout the town – so keep your eyes open!
These are just a few of things we got to discover on the Yanaka Shitamachi Backstreet Spot Tour. From historic temples to a park that seconds as an evacuation ground, there is so much to discover. And with a friendly, knowledgeable guide like Kiyoka, you can hit the pavement and explore like a local with confidence! Anyone looking for a personalized experience with a small group – up to 8 people max – will definitely enjoy what Yanaka Shitamachi Backstreet Spot Tour has to offer.
Book your Yanaka tour from the link below! And be sure to check out more tours that Japan Wonder Travel has to offer!
And follow the links below for more information on specific locations in Yanaka!
The information in this article is subject to change. This article was published in April, 2020.
Yanaka Shitamachi Backstreet Spot Tour（Japan wonder travel)
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