A walk around Yanaka Cemetery
Start your walk at the JR Nippori Station. The Yanaka Cemetery, called Yanaka Reien in Japanese, lies next to the train tracks on the inside of the loop formed by the Yamanote Line. From the South ticket gate, take the bridge across the train tracks. This is a good place if you like to watch the trains. Then walk up the small set of stairs towards Tennoji Temple to your left.
Tennoji Temple and Yanaka Cemetery
Tennoji Temple is a historical landmark. The Yanaka Cemetery used to be part of the temple grounds. In the Meiji period in 1874 it was made a public cemetery. At the temple you can see a beautiful Buddha statue cast in 1690. It is often called the “Tenno-ji Daibutsu”. You can also find one of the Seven Lucky Gods here, Bishamonten, the god of treasure, wealth, and warriors.
Continuing your walk on the Sakura-dori Street through Yanaka Cemetery you will see the remains of Tennoji Temple's Five-storied Pagoda. This is a place with an interesting history. The original f pagoda of Tenno-ji was built in 1644 and burnt down in 1771. The new pagoda built in 1791 survived earthquakes and wars, but was set on fire in a double love suicide in 1957. Now only its foundation stones remain. This building was the model for Rohan Koda’s novella “The Pagoda”.
Sakura-dori Street leads you straight through the cemetery and it is a famous spot in Tokyo to visit in the spring to see the cherry blossoms here. Sakura-dori means Cherry Blossom Street. Also take a walk down the side streets and look around. You can find the graves of many historical figures here. One of them is the grave of Tokugawa Yoshinobu (1837-1913), the 15th and last Tokugawa Shogun of Japan.
Around Yanaka Cemetery
Walking straight to the end of Sakura-dori will bring you to the other side of Yanaka Cemetery. You can walk back towards Nippori Station on the outside of the cemetery, taking the street that passes the Asakura Museum of Sculpture. Near this street you will find several temples and small local shops.
After the Asakura Museum of Sculpture the Goten-zaka Slope leads to Nippori Station on your right. Turn left here instead and you will come to Yanaka Ginza Shopping Street. Yanaka Ginza has a welcoming old-fashioned atmosphere and you can try some of the popular Japanese sweets and snacks here after your walk.