Yanesen

Yanaka Ginza

Yanaka Ginza

“Yanaka Ginza” is a rustic downtown shopping street which lies below the steps named “Yuyake Dandan.” It once was the everyday shopping destination for the locals, but today, it is bustling with a lot of tourists. The way to enjoy this street is to eat as you walk. The street is filled with shops that sell foods such as fried goods, yakitori and sweets. You can have fun just by looking at the different stores. The area around Yanaka Ginza mostly survived the air raids during the Second World War, so residential area and temple town from the good old days are still intact. Why not buy some minced meat cutlets here and head for the tour of downtown Tokyo?

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Tsuiji Wall of Kannonji

Tsuiji Wall of Kannonji

Tsuiji wall of Kannonji Temple is what symbolizes Yanaka, a town full of old downtown atmosphere. It is a 37.6 meter long mud wall made in the Edo Period in what is called a “neribei” style which are walls made alternating layers of mud and tile. A part of the wall was destroyed during the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011, but it has since been restored. This type of wall where roof is put on top of wall made of alternating layers of mud and tile gives you rare glimpse into how a typical Japanese townscape looked like 200 years ago when there were the 47 ronin of Ako. In 1992, the wall won the Taito Ward Townscape Award. When traffic dies down, you will feel as though you have traveled back in time. Back in the Edo Period, walls like this one was prevalent around mansions of lords and temples.

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Yanaka Okanoeisen

Yanaka Okanoeisen

Yanaka Okanoeisen was opened in 1900. Today, the fourth-generation owner protects the traditional methods and taste. This place is known for “Ukikusa,” soft rice cakes with bean jam inside that are made without any additives. The store building is historic and immerses you in nostalgic atmosphere of pre-war days. It is not a large store and selection is not too many, but maybe this is how a long-established store should be. Go ahead and just enjoy the bean daifuku. Minimum order is two. The cake is sticky with a lot of beans and the inside is a very high quality bean jam. The taste just explodes in your mouth with each bite. After a long walk, yo do get hungry, right? How about some sweets?

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Suzuki Meat

Suzuki Meat

This shop was established back in 1933. The current third-generation president decided introduce selling deli foods instead of just concentrating on selling wagyu beef. At Suzuki Meat, you can buy minced meat cutlet, a must for stroll around Yanaka. Their famous cutlets are known as “Genki Cutlets.” The meat blend and spice combinations have been adjusted over the years. The fying oil is changed three times a day. The cutlets will not make your stomach heavy. The minced meat used is from the leftovers from when they make the steak cuts for top grade A5 rank wagyu, so the cutlets will let you enjoy the rich juices of top quality meat. Why not go for a stroll around town with television-famous cutlet in your hand? By the way, there is a rival shop called “Sato Meat,” but we will save them for next time.

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Himitsu-do

Himitsu-do

Himitsu-do is a shaved-ice shop. Their name “himitsu” is a Japanese pun for “syrup for ice.” They are so famous that during their busiest time, you may need to wait in line for as long as six hours. It is rumored that line never dies down even during the cold winter months. So how good is their shaved ice...? First wow factor is how large the frozen treat is. It is as big as a child's head. On top of this huge ball of finely shaved ice is thick fruit syrup. The secret of the fluffy shavings is that they are from natural ice of Nikko Mitsuboshi Himuro ice house.

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Nezu no Taiyaki

Nezu no Taiyaki

Taiyaki are fish-shaped cakes filled with red bean jam. This taiyaki shop in Nezu has been making the fish-shaped treats since 1957. Taiyaki here are made individually by skilled staff. Thinly-baked crunchy dough is filled generously with red bean jam made from azuki beans from Tokachi in Hokkaido. The store first started out as a branch location of Yanagiya, an old taiyaki shop in Ningyocho which first opened in 1916. Today, the shop has parted with Yanagiya and is now a self-standing operation. Even though the taiyaki here are not mass-produced in a mold like other shops, the price is kept low. They are only open until red bean jam for the day runs out so many stand in line even before the shop is open. Be sure to seize the opportunity if you only see a short line!

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Sato Meat

Sato Meat

Sato Meat is said to be the pioneer of minced meat cutlets boom in Yanaka. They are one of the two giants of Yanaka minced meat cutlets, along with Suzuki Meat. With safety and peace of mind as their motto, Sato Meat's cutlets are made from top quality A5 ranked wagyu beef so just the juices from the meat alone give you all the taste that you need. The pricing is very reasonable so you may witness some customers go home with quite a lot of cutlets. The cutlets are deep fried to crunchy perfection and the juices flow out when you bite into them. How about one with you beer? So how do you tell Meat Sato and Meat Suzuki apart? Well, it must be the theme song for Antonio Inoki, a Japanese pro wrestler.

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Yanaka Matsunoya

Yanaka Matsunoya

Alumite products, zinc, rattan baskets... While these words may not sound familiar, these are types of products that you will find here at Yanaka Matsunoya. They carry simple everyday products from all over Japan and abroad. They are not mass produced and they are certainly not artistic products. Just plain and simple everyday products made by ordinary factories and craftsmen in the countryside are offered here at reasonable prices. The products not only have excellent usability, but they also have somewhat of nostalgic feel to them. The more you use them, better they get. These are what “tools” are all about. Also on their product line are some handmade accessories and fabric products, so this place is enjoyable for both men and women. Why not find a piece of product that fits you the best?

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Kamachiku

Kamachiku

Kamachiku is an udon restaurant with their main location in Habikino city in Osaka. There are two types of rooms for customers. One is a modern one with a spectacular view of their green garden and the other is an impressive room using a restored stone storeroom from 1910. The main product here is the thick udon pulled straight from the boiling pot, but you can also choose thin udon if you order a zaru udon. When you place an order, you will soon hear pleasant sound of knife hitting the cutting board, indicating that noodles are being made to order. The thick noodles are chewy. The restaurant owner is a sake sommelier so you will find a fine selection of Japanese sake here. You will enjoy a simple but seasonal dishes here that will go well with a sip of sake.

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Lemon no Mi

Lemon no Mi

Diner “Lemon no Mi” opened towards the end of 2010. Although a newcomer to the area, they have quickly become a popular destination. The reasons perhaps are good old look of the renovated 45-year-old house and the feel-at-home meals prepared by Ms. Ida, the owner. The meals change daily. Most meals center around vegetables so they are healthy and look pleasing. The portions of the meals may not satisfy some big eaters, but may be perfect if you will be eating snacks in your Yanaka stroll.

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