What to See, Eat and Do in Yanaka Ginza? - Malaysia Asia Travel Blog

Friday, April 03, 2020

What to See, Eat and Do in Yanaka Ginza?

Yanaka Ginza Eat See Do

For anyone heading to Tokyo, I have come up with a list of what you can do in Yanaka Ginza, which is one of the most unique places to visit here.

If you have not heard about this place, then you should be reading this now because Tokyo is not all about Shibuya, Shinjuku, Roppongi, Akihabara, and Ginza only.

What to See, Eat and Do in Yanaka Ginza?

Yanaka Ginza is a small shopping street located near Ueno Park and is probably one of the oldest and original shopping streets of Tokyo. Think Edo-period shops.

The objective of visiting this unique place is to see and compare how Tokyo was like before turning into a modern metropolis as it is now.

Basically, for anyone who is only visiting Tokyo, you now have the opportunity to visit an old part of Japan which is usually seen in smaller cities and towns out of Tokyo.

So, when you visit this fascinating place, here is a list of what you can do at Yanaka Ginza.

Maneki Neko Lucky Cats Yanaka Ginza
If you look carefully at this photo, you can spot one of the Maneki Neko lucky cats.
1. Spot the Seven Lucky Maneki Neko Cats

Known as the Maneki Neko or 'Lucky Cat' in Japan, this highly popular feline is often spotted in many places around Tokyo and is also one of Yanaka Ginza's attractions.

When you walk the main shopping street, there are seven wooden Maneki Neko figurines placed throughout this 170 meters long street.

Rumor has it that finding all seven Maneki Neko makes the finder's wishes come true, so this is a fun thing to do when you are here.

Old Businesses in Yanaka Ginza
This is actually one of the original beauty saloons that can be seen at Yanaka Ginza.
2. See Traditional Japanese Businesses

Along Yanaka Ginza, there are a number of traditional Japanese businesses that have been here for generations and are still owned by the respective families.

Some of these businesses include a Kimono store, a tailor, local grocery shop, fishmonger, Izakaya, craft workshop, porcelain shop, bamboo products shop, and traditional Japanese sweet shops.

The beauty of these businesses is that they still do things the old way, and you will hardly see any modern facilities or other businesses here. This includes fast-food chains, coffee chains or even 24-hour convenient shops like Lawson or 7-11.

Yuyake Dansan Staircase at Yanaka Ginza.
3. Visit Yuyake Dandan Steps

This famous staircase is located on the eastern part of Yanaka Ginza, meaning if you are coming from the Nippori Station, this is the first thing you encounter before entering the main shopping street.

Yuyake Dandan is a flight of 36 steps that descend 4.4 meters (14 feet) and was named in 1990 in a competition after renovating the staircase here. It also translates as Sunset Steps from Japanese.

Many locals love to come here in the evening during sunset to get a beautiful view of the shopping street, and over time, this place has become one of the Instagram spots of Yanaka Ginza.

One of the Katsu vendors with their selection.
4. Try the Menchi Katsu at Niku no Suzuki

This is one of the most popular snacks to be sold at one of the hawkers along the street. Menchi Katsu is a ground meat cutlet that is deep-fried. The meat is usually beef or pork, so Muslims, take note.

The most famous street food at Yanaka Ginza is found at a shop called Niku no Suzuki, and they are well known for their specialty “Genki Ippai! Genki Menchi-Katsu”, sold at ¥230 per piece.

One thing to note is that this place has a line on weekends and is highly popular. There are of course other similar shops that sell the Menchi Katsu and you just need to walk a little further.

Sweets Shop at Yanaka Ginza
One of the many Japanese sweet shops along the street.
5. Eat Traditional Japanese Sweets

While exploring Yanaka Ginza, you are bound to come across shops selling traditional Japanese sweets and they are highly recommended to try.

One of the must-try snacks is the Yanaka Shipoya or Cat-tailed Doughnuts, which are very popular among all ages. Check out this quick guide on where to eat in Yanaka Ginza by Aleli.

An elderly Japanese lady pours sake for a customer.
6. Drink Sake and Japanese Beer

Along Yanaka Ginza, there are a couple of stalls set up outside of shops and are selling beer, sake and other drinks. Many locals and visitors are seen stopping to try some of the local Sake by the glass. 

I totally forgot the shop's name, but it is hard to miss, Sake bottles displayed on racks of beer, and an old Japanese lady serving them by the glasses. You can even get draft Yebisu beer for ¥400 here.

They sell a very good variety of Japanese Sake which ranges from ¥200 to ¥450 per glass and offers a couple of chairs to set down, which is usually occupied.

O-mikuji Yanaka Ginza
The fortune-telling O-mikuji machine along the street.
7. Get Your Fortune Read by an O-Mikuji Machine

Alright, I just had to include this in because when I passed this shop, there was a fortune-telling machine placed right in front and bright red in color.

O-mikuji are random fortune slips that are commonly found in Shinto shrines across Japan and predict generally matters of health, fortune, and life among the many other things. 

Over here in Yanaka Ginza, this O-mikuji machine is tourist-ready, where it provides four different languages - English, Chinese, Korean and of course Japanese, and one try is ¥200.

Yanaka Ginza Zakuro Lamp Workshop
Zakuro Lampya, a Turkish lamp workshop at Yanaka Ginza.
8. Try a Zakuro Lamp Workshop

Along Yanaka Ginza shopping street, there is a store called Zakuro, which is, in fact, a bazaar and a workshop for Turkish mosaic glass craft.

Locals and visitors can take part in their lamp making workshop by creating various types of lamps that include a standing lamp, candle holder, Kuririn lamp, and many other types.

Those interested are required to register ahead and the price ranges from ¥3,000 to ¥10,000 depending on what type of workshop you want to attend. Register for the workshop at Zakuro Lampya.

Yanaka Bochi
What a Japanese graveyard looks like.
9. Visit Yanaka Reien (Yanaka Bochi)

Yanaka Reien is known as the Yanaka Cemetery, which is one of the largest and most famous graveyards in the Tokyo city.

What makes this place popular is the fact that Cherry Blossom trees line up one part of the cemetery road and is extremely popular during the Sakura season in Tokyo.

This place is also known as Cherry Blossom Avenue, but the cemetery has its own uniqueness where many famous people are buried, including the last Shogun, Tokugawa Yoshinobu, also known as Keiki.

A total of 7,000 graves are found spread over 100,000 square meters, and strangely, it has its own police station.

Yanaka Coffee Shop
Yanaka Coffee shop, along Yomise Dori street.
10. Try Yanaka Coffee

This is no doubt a must-try for any coffee lover. Yanaka Coffee may not be famous, but over here in the Yomise Dori shopping street, one shop stands out, which is this. 

Honestly, I am a huge coffee fan, and when I saw the Yanaka Coffee sign, my heart jumped for joy. They not only sell fresh roast coffee, but they also sell various coffee beans from all over the world.

Blended Coffee hot or ice is ¥260 while a Latte is ¥310 per cup. They have a few stools and a bench for you to sit down, but most people come here for the take-away. They open from 10.00 AM to 8.00 PM daily.

Yomise Dori Shopping Street
The archway to Yomise Dori near Yanaka. Photo by https://yanesen-guide.com/
11. Explore Yomise Dori Shopping Street

If you exit Yanaka Ginza from the west entrance, you will arrive at Yomise Dori shopping street. Or if you arrive via the Sendagi Station on Tokyo Metro, this is the street you will be walking on.

Yomise Dori is actually another old-style shopping avenue that is not as popular as Yanaka Ginza and caters more to local residents than tourists.

On the left of the Yanaka Ginza west entrance, there is a Yanesen Tourist Information Center which is about 40 meters to the left. Over here, you can get more information about Yanaka Ginza and also Yomise-Dori.

One of the unique things that you can inquire about is the various traditional classes on Japanese ink painting, kabuki dressing, Japanese instrument playing, calligraphy, and flower art.

Conclusion

For those interested to find out more, I have also written another article called all you need to know about Yanaka Ginza that highlights the place overall.

Yanaka Ginza is truly one of the most unique places to visit in Tokyo and should not be missed by anyone traveling here. It is suited for all kinds of travelers, single, couple and even family travelers.

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