14 things to do in Yanesen (Yanaka, Nezu, and Sendagi)
The three areas in Tokyo's Bunkyo ward named Yanaka, Nezu, and Sendagi are famous throughout Japan. There are many old buildings and temples, so it's a place where Japanese people often visit and walk. Here are 14 spots in the area that you should check out on your visit.
Feb 17 2015 (Jan 06 2020)
The area in Tokyo's Bunkyo ward has three areas (Yanaka, Nezu, and Sendagi) that are famous for sight-seeing. It miraculously was unharmed during the firebombings in WWII, so there are plenty of temples and old buildings from the Edo Period still standing. Many Japanese people like to take walks around there.
It's an area with lots of cats, so there are stores covered in cat goods. Here are 14 recommended places to go if you decide to visit.
1．Nezu ShrineWei, Shi-Hang/Flickr oafbot/Flickr
This is the shrine that retains the legend of Prince Yamato Takeru from the year 1900. This is a famous shrine that was held dear by various shogun and emperors. The Otome Inari is inside, where you can pray to the goddess of harvest. In May, it is covered in azaleas in full bloom, so many people come to see them.
Chiyoda Line: 5 minutes from Nezu Station
Chiyoda Line: 5 minutes from Sendagi Station
Nanboku Line: 5 minutes from Todaimae Station
Quick Tip: Consider Joining a Yanaka Walking Tour!
Before we move on to the rest of the article, we'd like to quickly mention the Yanaka Historical Walking Tour in Tokyo's Old Town. You'll get to see much more than just the spots mentioned in this article, and since you'll have a local English-speaking guide accompanying you, it'll be easy to learn about the history and culture behind each spot you visit!
2．Nezu no Taiyakisnoozer05/Flickr
This taiyaki store is very close to Nezu Shrine and often has a line out the door. Taiyaki is a pastry made in the shape of the fish that is filled with something sweet, like red bean pudding or custard.
Chiyoda Line: 7 minutes from Nezu Station
If you enter through the elegant gate, you'll find a calm, Japanese-style restaurant. It's a famous store that is highly praised for its soba. They even sell soba in the mornings for people who decide they want to have it for breakfast.
Chiyoda Line: 9 minutes from Nezu Station
Chiyoda Line: 9 minutes from Sendagi Station
This lovely restaurant has a facade that looks like an old home. It's very close to the station so it's easy to get to. This store makes kushiage (fried ingredients on a stick) and kushikatsu (fried pork and onions on a stick) out of vegetables, meat, and feel. You can order any ingredient you like for a relaxed dining experience.
Chiyoda Line: 1 minute from Nezu Station's Exit 2
5．Yayoi Yumeji Museum
Yayoi Yumeji is a Japanese artist who created many portraits of beautiful people in the Taisho era. His art looks like modern-era ukiyo-e paintings so even today his art is popular. He also designed various things, so he's considered the pioneer of Japanese graphic design.
Chiyoda Line: 7 minutes from Nezu Station's Exit 1
Nanboku Line: 7 minutes from Todaimae Station's Exit 1
6．Yanaka Cemetaryかがみ～/Flickr decoponia2015/Flickr
This is a famous cemetery that has around 7000 graves. The 15th shogun, Tokugawa Yoshinobu, as well as various famous politicians, artists, and businessmen are buried here. It's very famous for the large number of cherry blossoms, so many people come here in the spring to see the flowers. It's also famous for the large amount of cats.
JR Yamanote Line: 7 minutes from Nippori Station
Behind Yanaka Cemetery is Tennouji, a Tendai Buddhist temple deifying Vaisravana. If you pass through the temple gates, there is a Buddha sitting with his hands clasped. It's very pretty in the spring and many people visit.
JR Yamanote Line: right near Nishi-Nippori Station
8．Yanaka Senbei Shinsendou
In this area, there are many senbei shops. Among them, Shinsendou is one of the most popular. They have a wide variety of senbei, from sweet ones to spicy ones to differently shaped ones, and most visitors struggle over their choices. For first time visitors, the soy sauce, round senbei is the recommended.
JR Yamamoto Line: 3 minutes from Nishi-Nippori Station
This store specializes in Japan's "maneki neko," or the beckoning cat. In this area, there are many cats, so there are also many stores that sell cat-related items. There are various maneki neko types that are on sale here and people from all around the country come to buy them.
The maneki neko has a proper meaning. The cat with its right paw raised is becockoning economic fortune, while the cat with its left paw raised is inviting customers. You can decide which cat to buy depending on which paw is raised. The colors also have different meanings, so if you ask the staff they'll tell you all about them.
Chiyoda Line: 6 minutes from Sendagi Station's exit 1
JR Yamanote Line/Chukyo Line/Nippori-Toneri Liner: 10 minutes from Nippori Station's south exit
Can you tell what this horse is made out of?
It's made from mizuage, or starch syrup. Of course, it's edible. A craftsman kneads starch syrup to make various things. If you go to the store, they sell a variety of beautiful candy creations. You can also watch them make the mizuage candy. Maybe you can have them make something you'd like. Definitely take the chance to see this traditional Japanese art and the resulting products.
Chiyoda Line: 3 minutes from Sendagi Station's exit 1
This store has sold "chiyogami" since the Edo period. Chiyogami is paper that has beautiful patterns printed on it, and at this store they sell both sheets of paper but also various accessories and goods made decorated with chiyogami. The inside of the store itself overflows with beautiful colors so it's a treat for the eyes just to walk in. Some of these items might be perfect as souvenirs.
Chiyoda Line: 5 minutes from Sendagi Station's Dangozaka exit
This temple is the temple of the sibling of one of the 47 Ronin. They had many meetings here about raids. Inside, there is a memorial tower decided to the 47 Ronin so many 47 Ronin fans come to visit. There is also a famous wall made with roof tiles and clay called "Tsuijihei".
JR Yamanote Line: 10 minutes from Nippori Station towards Yanaka Reien (Yanaka Cemetery)
13．Yanaka Shopping StreetDakiny/Flickr
If you want to see how Japanese people live their regular lives, coming to this shopping street might give you some inside. It's a shopping street that's famous in Tokyo as "Yanaka Ginza." You can buy mince cutlets, mitarashi dango sweets, and donuts in the shape of cat tails and eat them right after purchase. Many Japanese people also come here to buy side dishes for their dinner at home. Many people also come here to take pictures from the stairs because there's a beautiful view of the sunset.
JR Yamanote Line: 10 minutes from Nippori Station
14. Sawanoya Ryokan
Since it's a ryokan (traditional Japanese inn) inside the city where foreigners stay, it's probably more famous internationally than within Japan. While it's surrounded by sightseeing spots and close to Ueno Station, from which travel to and from the airport is easy, more than anything the reason people like to stay here is the friendliness of the staff and the at-home, comfortable feeling of the rooms. They have English information guides and maps for anyone to take, so people who don't know any Japanese can be at ease.
Chiyoda Line: 5 minutes from Nezu Station
Other than the spots listed, there are many temples and cafes and souvenir shops in the area as well. All you have to do is walk around and you're sure to find someplace you'll love! Alternatively, consider biking around the Yanesen area together with an English-speaking local guide with the Tokyo Good Old Bike Tour. You'll be able to explore much more of this area in just a few hours!
The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.