Reminisce Tokyo's Olden Days at Yanaka Ginza - Waku Waku

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Reminisce Tokyo's Olden Days at Yanaka Ginza

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Reminisce Tokyo's Olden Days at Yanaka Ginza

Whether you live in Tokyo or just stopping by for vacation, you definitely have to pay Yanaka Ginza a visit. Get a glimpse of the earlier townscape and slower-paced Tokyo!

Cynthia Gumulia

Cynthia Gumulia

Published on 16 Nov 2021, 12:00

Located within the Taito ward, east of Tokyo, Yanaka (谷中) is a well-preserved old town district called shitamachi in Japanese. The Yanaka area is a beloved home to many old and local shops. Distinctively more relaxed than the rest of Tokyo, Yanaka is the place to spend an afternoon at, where nostalgia fills the air and rustic buildings just add to the town's charm.

Yanaka Ginza

Best representing Yanaka's olden days' shopping culture is the Yanaka Ginza (谷中銀座). It is the locals' favorite go-to place to shop for anything from groceries, trinkets, souvenirs to Japanese snacks. Yanaka Ginza offers an old-fashioned shopping experience with no luxury stores or high-end brands. Yet, it is always roamed with locals with a few handfuls of tourists!

Strolling through Yanaka Ginza is surely another experience
Strolling through Yanaka Ginza is surely another experience

Getting your Instagram fix

Depending on where you start your Yanaka Ginza journey, you'll see Yuyake Dandan - a flight of stairs - leading towards the entrance of the retro alleyway or leading away from it. This staircase is a well-known photo spot for tourists as the top of the stairs overlooks the entire road with its quaint buildings and homey-looking stalls.

Yuyake Dandan overlooking the arch entrance gate of Yanaka Ginza
Yuyake Dandan overlooking the arch entrance gate of Yanaka Ginza

Literally translated as sunset staircase in Japanese, Yuyake Dandan is the photo spot that grants you a breathtaking sunset view. You can easily find crowds of people with cameras ready during sunset to shoot the panoramic view on any day of the year.

But first, let's eat!

If you're like me and are always on the hunt for flavorsome street food, you'll hit the jackpot here. Stretching over 175m, the Yanaka Ginza road is packed with approximately 60 stores offering different goods and services.

If you ask me, I'll definitely say that the highlight is the Souzai Ichifuji (惣菜いちふじ) street food stall. Apart from being incredibly delicious, the price is unbelievably cheap.

惣菜いちふじ - Make sure to stop by and try a few of their street food
惣菜いちふじ - Make sure to stop by and try a few of their street food

In this stall you can get the korokke (croquette) for only 33 yen a piece! Personally, I loved the yakitori (grilled chicken skewers), but the menchi katsu (ground meat cutlet) is also a popular option to begin your street food hunt, even the locals queue up for it!

Yakitori, costs me 54 yen per skewer
Yakitori, costs me 54 yen per skewer

If you're feeling for a proper meal, be on the lookout for bento stalls. I didn't purchase any this time around, but the bentos sold here are just as delicious as they are affordable!

A small tip from a fellow tourist, make sure to enjoy your food on the side of the street like any other locals. It’s considered rude to be eating while walking!
There's a lot more street food stalls to try too!
There's a lot more street food stalls to try too!

Cat Culture

Yanaka Ginza is heavy on its cat culture. Just strolling through the road, you can spot many stores with cat displays, miniature cat figurines, and even cat plushies. This town's love of cat culture is also because many of these friendly felines spend their time everywhere around the area.

Find everything cat-related goods in this shop, it truly is a cat lover's paradise!
Find everything cat-related goods in this shop, it truly is a cat lover's paradise!
Maneki Neko traditionally depicts a calico Japanese Bobtail with a beckoning gesture and is believed to bring good luck to the owner
Maneki Neko traditionally depicts a calico Japanese Bobtail with a beckoning gesture and is believed to bring good luck to the owner

An added charm of Yanaka Ginza is the Maneki Neko - Lucky Cat. The traditional cat figurine with one raised paw is a common Japanese figurine that symbolizes luck. There are seven wooden Maneki-neko figurines throughout the road.

Remember to keep your eyes open while you're exploring because they say if you find all seven, your wishes come true!
I spotted the first two Maneki Neko figurines!
I spotted the first two Maneki Neko figurines!
I spotted the third Maneki Neko on top of this tempura stall! How many could you find?
I spotted the third Maneki Neko on top of this tempura stall! How many could you find?

Yanaka Ginza (谷中銀座)

Address: 〒110-0001 3 Chome-13-1 Yanaka, Taito City, Tokyo (find it here)

Operational Hours:

  • Shops have their respective opening times, but it is recommended to explore the area between 10:00AM - 7:00PM
  • Keep in mind that some shops are closed on Mondays and Wednesdays (if a holiday falls on either of these days, the shop will close on the following day)

Access: Yanaka Ginza is located within 5 minute from either Nippori Station or Sendagi Station

Website: https://www.yanakaginza.com/

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Cynthia Gumulia

Cynthia Gumulia

Hello~ Traveling and eating has been a long-term passion of mine, join me as I share my experience exploring and discovering what Japan has to offer! If you have time, say hi, I'd love to be friends with you!

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