By David, long-term Tokyo resident & food-loving traveler
Tokyo’s Yanaka district is located near the busy Nippori and Ueno Stations, but it feels that time has stopped decades ago in this quiet neighborhood. Instead of monuments to modern architecture and huge shopping malls there are small shops here. Even a good number of old wooden buildings has survived natural disasters and urban development.
At the heart of Yanaka lies Yanaka Ginza. Like the famous Ginza in the centre of Tokyo this is a shopping street, but a very local one. It is beloved for its retro vibe and its love for everything related to cats.
Come hungry and enjoy some Japanese style “tabe-aruki” - literally eating and walking. Yanaka Ginza’s small shops have sweet and savory treats for you. Since Yanaka is famous for its cats, many shops have cat-shaped foods, cat statues, and cat goods.
Yanaka Shippoya makes straight doughnuts that look like cat tails. Shippo means tail in Japanese. So Shippoya’s different flavors look like different color cats.
Manekineko are the Japanese waiving lucky cats and Manekiya bakes them with a generous filling. Their cute Fuku-nyan-yaki come in different flavors: anko (sweet red bean paste), anko & matcha cream, cream, and sausage & cheese.
Other popular snacks in Yanaka Ginza are the deep-fried foods sold at the shop next to Yanaka Shippoya, Ichifuji. They have everything you might put in a bento lunchbox. The newly opened Hakkodo makes grilled onigiri (rice balls) in interesting flavor combinations like miso & Parmesan cheese.
On the map you will find Yanaka Ginza between the JR Nippori Station and the Tokyo Metro Sendagi Station. The best local information can be found at the Yanesen Tourist Information & Culture Center.
If you want to take a walk and see a little more of Yanaka, check out these popular places nearby. Himitsudo is famous for Kakigori shaved ice desserts and Cafe Nekoemon for its cat cookies and cakes. And Manekineko next door has every kind of lucky cat.
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