As part of a series of articles on our favorite neighborhoods in Tokyo, JapanQuest Journeys takes you to Yanaka, in many ways the best preserved area of old Edo. Strolling through Yanaka is like a trip back in time. On each occasion that I wander through and explore the narrow streets of this quiet and serene neighborhood, I always find something new and intriguing.
Yanaka is home to Tokyo’s largest concentration of temples, originally built at the onset of the Edo period in the early 17th century. Tokugawa Ieyasu, ever wary that the temple priests may try to meddle in politics, ordered that Edo’s temples be constructed in one area to keep them under his watchful eye. For a modern day visitor to Tokyo, the result of Ieyasu’s endeavor was to create one of the most serene areas of the city. Strolling along Yanaka’s winding roads, by countless temple gates, one gets a glimpse into a world unto itself, with beautiful gardens and splendid shrines. One of my favorite temples in all of Japan, Tennoji, is to be found in Yanaka. This temple, which houses a large sitting bronze Buddha cast in 1690, harmoniously combines modern and traditional design and is simply stunning to behold.
Yanaka is also home to wonderful and traditional shops that have been in business for generations, whose delicious sampling of delicacies you will surely be tempted to try. Let JapanQuest Journeys expertly guide you through the backstreets of Yanaka and show you a part of Japan that we cherish so much.
By Philip Rosenfeld