The Yanaka neighbourhood is a miraculous place in Tokyo, one of the only areas to have been spared both bombings and earthquakes. Rent a ‘Made in Japan' bicycle from Tokyo Bike, located in a machiya, a traditional house that has today been transformed into the hippest of bicycle stores.
Starting at the rental shop, you will go back in time by peddling along rows of traditional wooden houses, then past a typical cemetery containing no fewer than 7,000 tombs, including that of the last shogun, Tokugawa Yoshinobu. The Jomyo-in Temple shows off more than 80,000 stone statuettes in the form of Jizo, the bodhisattva of children and forgotten souls. For lunch, you can enjoy the slow-paced feel of an old coffee shop, Kayaba Coffee, dating from 1916, where you will hesitate between meat curries and egg sandwiches.
You can finish the afternoon by stopping for an artistic pause in an alternative art gallery located in an old bathhouse, hence the name Scai the Bathhouse, or by visiting the store Kamenoko Tawashi, which means ‘turtle scrubbers' in Japanese, where they sell these traditional scrubbing brushes, plus t-shirts and mugs emblazoned with turtle images.
7 Chome-5-24 Yanaka
2-6-4 Ueno Sakuragi, Taito
Scai The Batthouse
6 Chome-1-23 Yanaka