The capital of Japan, Tokyo, is known for being busy. It is always common to have an image that the city is crossed by neon signs and that it never sleeps.
That’s true. However, in the midst of all this movement, it is possible to find very calm places there that are true treasures.
And best of all, you can, if you’re in Tokyo, get to know this neighborhood to relax a little.
Find out more here in an older part of the city where everything seems to be calmer. We’re talking about Yanesen.
A quiet place in the middle of Japan’s capital
Tokyo has a reputation for being a city that is all about speed and novelty. Everyone is in a hurry, buildings are constantly being demolished and rebuilt, and in most parts of the city, nothing is older than the last World War.
But there is a part of the old center of Shitamachi that escaped destruction by earthquake and war in the 20th century, where you can experience what remains of an older version of the city. It is called Yanesen, from the initials of the three neighborhoods Yanaka, Nezu and Sendagi. It’s the place to go if you like winding alleys, small shops and appreciate the appeal of a place that’s a little shabby and worn around the edges.
Yanesen is off the beaten path, east of Ueno Park and its zoo and museums, which is the eastern end most visitors end up going. So, don’t imagine that if you get there, you won’t have anything to do because it’s a quieter place. On the contrary, there is a lot to see and have fun there.
What’s even more interesting is that if you know people who live in Tokyo, chances are they aren’t familiar with this part of the city either.
You could probably spend a lifetime delving into the history of this neighborhood. There are more than a hundred temples in the area, and it has been a center of the arts for centuries, with shops selling traditional brushes and ground stone pigments.
Yanaka has an amazing mix of old and new businesses – from shops that have been selling, say, rice crackers for generations, to young bakers and artisans who are adapting to the neighborhood’s old buildings and long tradition of craftsmanship.
Wandering cats are symbols of the neighborhood. In Yanaka, you don’t have to find a trendy cat cafe and pay to hang out with the felines – they’re right down the street. In the graveyard you can find someone feeding them. There are even cat-themed souvenirs scattered along the street, and you can even find cat-themed stores there.