Top 20 Spots to Enjoy a Relaxed Stroll in the Hanzomon Area of Tokyo
Tokyo is a bustling city full of sights that are popular with locals and international visitors alike. There are many different areas and districts in the city, such as Shinjuku and Shibuya, but in this article, we will introduce you to the charming relaxed atmosphere of the Hanzomon area. It is teeming with things to see, such as the natural beauty surrounding the Imperial Palace, as well as popular, stylish cafes. Check these spots out when you're in this central part of town!
Aug 28 2019 (Sep 09 2020)
Top 10 Classic Must-See Spots in the Hanzomon Area
1. The Imperial Palace
The Imperial Palace, the residence of the Emperor, draws crowds from both home and abroad, and is one of the most well known sightseeing spots in Tokyo. Although you aren't able to enter inside the building, there are a plethora of things to see around the palace grounds, such as exploring the outer garden, so you should be sure to take a stroll around the compound.
Moreover, if you apply in advance or get one of the special tickets distributed on the day, you will be able to access the inside Imperial Palace. You will be able to see the offices of the Imperial Household Agency as well as the palace and other delights that are usually out of bounds to visitors.
2. Chidorigafuchi Park
Chidorigafuchi Park is also known as Hanzomon Park and is located near to the moat of the Imperial Palace. Natural beauty and fantastic views can be seen all over the park and the Chidorigafuchi path that stretches out from it, making it popular with the locals and runners that circle the palace.
Moreover, this park is famous for the quality of its cherry blossoms, some of the best in the metropolis. You are sure to enjoy a stroll around the park while gazing at the cherry blossoms. At nighttime the cherry blossom trees and park are lit up, creating a romantic atmosphere that is perfect for dates.
3. The National Diet Building
The National Diet Building is the home of the House of Representatives and House of Councillors. Both are open for viewings from the public. These viewings take the form of guided tours along a fixed route, and you are free to take pictures in certain areas of the building.
Inside the building, there is a replica of the seats that representatives have sat in, and you can experience sitting in them for yourself! You will need to apply for this on the day, but since you can enter the building without prior reservations or paying an entrance fee, it's great for those who are interested in politics or architecture.
4. Hirakawa Tenmangu Shrine
The Hirakawa Tenmangu Shrine is located a short 1 minute walk from the Tokyo Metro Hanzomon Station. Scholar Sugawara no Michizane and Tokugawa Ieyasu are enshrined here and it is said to lead to luck for those in the medical profession and those in the arts, as well as bringing prosperity to those in business.
Moreover, the grounds are home to the "Plums of Marriage," a feature popular with female worshippers. The plums on the plum tree found here bloom in pairs, therefore they are said to bring luck in love. If you come in the plum blooming season, be sure to search for one of these blooming pairs.
5. JCII Camera Museum
The JCII Camera Museum features displays of historical cameras and various works of photography. More specifically, it displays the popular camera brand Leica and other special exhibits that allow the visitor to experience the depth of the photography world. There is so much on offer that camera fanatics would be able to spend a good deal of time here!
Moreover, this museum features a corner for beginners to get to know the history of photography and the possibilities to be gleaned from it, as well as workshops for children, so even if you are not particularly fond of cameras, you can get a lot out of a visit to this museum. The attached gift shop has a full range of original goods on offer.
6. Ii Jikan Kojimachi
Ii Jikan Kojimachi is a stylish cafe located between the districts of Kojimachi and Hanzomon. The most popular item on the menu is the cute Classic Pudding, which is more firm than your average pudding with a rich taste and a dollop of cream on top. It is renowned for its particularly strong eggy flavors.
The fried egg and karashi mayonnaise in the popular Thick Egg Omelette Sandwhich go perfectly together as well. This comes with the pudding as part of a lunchtime set, so if you happen to be strolling around the Hanzomon area in the afternoon, it may be worth dropping in for a quick rest.
7. HOCUS POCUS
HOCUS POCUS is a popular sweets shop known for its rich variety of donuts. The display case shows off the colorful selection of premium quality offerings, which are luxurious and perfect for a relaxing break in a cafe. The menu doesn't only include fried donuts but also baked and steamed donuts as well - they're sure to put a smile on your face.
This restaurant also offers delicious coffee that goes perfectly with the donuts. You can also sample the wares of the popular Yoyogi Park coffee shop, Little Nap Coffee Stand. You can enjoy your purchases at the cafe, but also take it to go for a lovely stroll around the neighborhood.
This French restaurant is perfect for special occasions like anniversaries. Its luxurious and stylish interior is modeled after a ship. From the window, you can gaze upon the Imperial Palace and Tokyo Station, which lies beyond it. You can fully unwind in this relaxed atmosphere, while tucking into some delicious gourmet food.
This restaurant is also home to a library-cum-cafe and bar. It is replete with a relaxed interior that both solo patrons and groups will find it easy to spend time in. Explore their library of 1,000 books and kick back with a sweet treat in the afternoon or a drink in the evening!
9. Hotel Grand Arc Hanzomon
A great place to stay for those touring around the Tokyo and Hanzomon areas is the Hotel Grand Arc Hanzomon. This hotel is in a perfect location to allow you to see views of the Tokyo cityscape and the Imperial Palace from the windows of the restaurant and the guestrooms. It is located a short 3 minute walk from the Tokyo Metro Hanzomon Station, perfect for getting around to other tourist spots.
As well as both twin and double rooms, there are also larger rooms that can accommodate up to three or four guests. There's a parking lot as well, so it's convenient for guests traveling by car. Spaces operate on a first come first serve basis and are charged separately.
10. Le Grenier a Pain
Le Grenier a Pain is a French boulangerie, and this is the first ever branch to open in Japan. When you step foot inside this store, you will be greeted by the beautiful aroma of soft and fluffy bread. The shelves are packed with bread, pastries, jams, and other delights. If you love bread, you will feel right at home.
There is a rich variety of goods on offer, with side dishes and sweet pastries; the most popular items are the buttery danishes and the simple baguettes. Get your fill of the true taste of France in Tokyo.
Top 5 Spots Around Hanzomon Station
1. Stone Monument of the Remains of the Residence of Taki Rentaro
A famous musician of the Meiji period (1868-1912), Taki Rentaro, was born in Tokyo and was the composer of songs such as Hana and Kojo no Tsuki. As he was a resident of Chiyoda Ward, a monument has been placed there in his honor.
This commemorative monument is found just a 5-minute walk from the Tokyo Metro Hanzomon Station, making it easy to visit when touring the other sites in the vicinity.
Sora no Iro is an extremely popular restaurant with female customers and clients from overseas who all come to taste the healthy type of ramen that is on offer here. It is known as Veggie Soba and as you would expect, it is packed full of vegetables. One other factor in its popularity is the stylish and sleek interior and exterior design, something that you may not expect from a ramen store.
There are many different types of this veggie soba available at Sora no Iro. For those who wish to have meat in their ramen then you can order the 'Veggie Soba with Meat'. If you do not want any animal based products at all in your ramen, then you can order the unique 'Vegan Veggie Soba'. Whicever you choose, make sure you get your hands on this Tokyo-born, evolved form of ramen.
Sobausa is a popular restaurant where you can taste the newest trends in eat-and-go soba dining, such as with their dish "Basil Hiyashi Soba." The "usa" in the name refers to the U.S.A., with the exterior and interior of the store decorated with a poppy American vibe.
The most popular item on the menu is the aforementioned basil hiyashi soba. Its secret is that it features a green dipping soup with fresh basil paste mixed in. The dipping sauce and fresh basil are a match made in heaven. They are simply splendid when eaten with the supple and perfectly textured noodles. If you are looking for an even more refreshing taste, try adding some lemon to the mix.
4. BIRD BATH & KIOSK
Bird Bath & Kiosk is a stylish and sleek coffee stand designed by an architectural firm. It is just a short 2-minute walk from the Tokyo Metro Hanzomon Station, so it is the perfect spot to pop by when in need of a break from walking or from visiting the local sites.
This store is beloved by those working in the nearby offices and offers customers the chance to enjoy delicious coffee with a sandwich or some dessert. They also sell stationery, cosmetics, and other miscellaneous goods, so why not have a look at what's on offer?
5. Kojimachi Cafe
A refined atmosphere emanates from the walls of Kojimachi Cafe. It is easy to get to, owing to its location just a 1 minute walk from the Tokyo Metro Hanzomon Station. The expansive and relaxed interior is popular not just with tourists, but also with locals and those working nearby.
Moreover, visitors are sure to be impressed by the level of dedication on the part of staff to the ingredients used and to the handcrafted nature of the dishes on offer. These include salads bursting with organic vegetables and the daily specials that change based on the ingredients taken in to the restaurant that day. They are available for catering as well, so it's perfect for parties.
Top 5 Secret Spots in Hanzomon
1. The Supreme Court
The Supreme Court of Japan was expertly designed by architect Okada Shinichi, so the building is also admired as a work of art. It may not be the most well-known building in the area, but apart from attending a court hearing, you are free to step inside for a visit.
There are undoubtedly some of you who are curious as to what the interior of the court looks like. In order to get inside, you need to make reservations in advance. Bookings are taken on a first-come-first-serve basis, but this is not the kind of place that you have the opportunity to visit every day, so it's a good idea to set aside some time for a trip here! It will make for a slightly different experience for children, too.
2. Hanzomon Bridge
Hanzomon Bridge is the name given to a bridge made of soil that stretches across the inner moat of the Imperial Palace and leads to Hanzomon. It is not open to the public, meaning that you can only view it from afar. The combined view of the moat and the bridge together will be sure to have you feeling relaxed. This is a hidden delight somewhat off the beaten track.
Nearby lies the aforementioned Chidorigafuchi Park and the Chidorigafuchi Path, making this area perfect for a leisurely stroll surrounded by leafy nature. This area is also famous for its cherry blossoms so it will get pretty busy with visitors in spring.
3. MAISON DELICE sanbancho
MAISON DELICE sanbancho offers patrons the chance to sample the wares of Fukuoka with its fresh ingredients, bento boxes, and handmade sweets. It is very popular with the students of the local women's university, and there are even large queues outside its doors during lunch time.
Popular items on the menu that leverage the delicious cuisine of Fukuoka include the Extravagant Mentaiko Bento (pollack roe lunch box) and Kashiwaten (chicken tempura). With these dishes, you can sample the famous and delicious products of this prefecture in Tokyo. The restaurant primarily deals with take-out orders, but there is a space available inside the restaurant for those who wish to sit down with their meals.
5. Bain Douche
Bain Douche is a bathhouse located a 1 minute walk from the Tokyo Metro Hanzomon Station. The brickwork exterior gives off a certain charm with a retro atmosphere. As it is located close to the Imperial Palace, it is packed with joggers at night who have just finished a run around the grounds.
It costs just 450 JPY to bathe here so anyone can enter. It is very convenient for runners because it allows you to change before your jog and leave your belongings in the lockers while you are on your run. It is also a great choice for anyone looking to cleanse themselves after a day of touring the sites around Hanzomon Station or walking around the Imperial Palace.
Take a Leisurely Stroll Around Hanzomon!
This article introduced you to the full range of what is on offer in the Hanzomon area, from the must-see sites that everyone visits to other more secret locations only known by locals. The charm of Hanzomon is that, while it is located in central Tokyo and bustling with tourists and travelers from both inside and outside Japan, there are a plethora of spaces for people to relax in, from casual shops and spacious cafes to gardens bursting with nature. For those of you looking to take your time strolling around the sites, why not pay a visit to the Hanzomon area?
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Translated and republished with permission from: SPIRA (formerly known as Relux Magazine)
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The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.