Tokyo may be a city where newer and higher buildings are erected willy nilly but there is an ‘oasis of Edo calm’ to be found within the cool hills of Yanesen. This is the abbreviated name given to the neighbourhoods of Yanaka, Nezu and Sendagi which is located within the Yamanote circle.
It’s an area I read about in a local listings magazine about five years ago but have never really bothered to muster the enthusiasm for strolling around until a couple of weekends ago. Fortunately I had kept that article and its map and with it being a nice, sunny day I met up with a friend at Nippori station to spend a few hours meandering the narrow streets, food stalls, restaurants, cafes, workshops, craft shops, shrines and temples.
* Yanaka Ginza is the name of the busy street which is packed with traditional retail shops selling all sorts of cheap delicious Japanese snacks.
* Tenouji temple is round the corner from Nippori station and features a large copper Buddha (below) originally built in 1690.
* Nenotsu (above) is a traditional restaurant serving up udon noodles which is usually very popular with customers patiently lining up outside as Japanese tend to do.
* Nezu jinja shrine was built in 1705 and is one of Tokyo’s oldest structures. Whilst temples and shrines really aren’t my thing I can appreciate the odd one here and there and this one is full of foxes which are of course of interest to Leicester City fans and people running websites with fox in the title!
As I’ve mentioned in a couple of articles in the past these stone foxes are traditionally viewed by Japanese people as being sacred and mysterious figures which supposedly protect the place in some way or another.