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Tour of Yanaka and Japanese Culture

One-day trip

Tour of Yanaka and Japanese Culture

Go from your hotel to Harajuku Station on the JR Yamanote Line. The Yamanote Line is a circular line and the fare is only 190 yen, even to the furthest station on the line.

Meiji-jingu Shrine
The Meiji-jingu Shrine is dedicated to the sacred souls of Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken. It is a beautiful oasis lying in the middle of an urban city. During the New Year season, this is the most popular shrine in Japan for visitors and worshippers.
After passing under the wooden torii (sacred arch), which is the highest of this type in Japan, you will walk on a long gravel approach to the shrine. According to legend, the tamajari (pea gravel) rubbing against the soles of your feet will have purified you of all evils of the body and soul by the time you reach the main shrine.
We recommend visiting the shrine's gardens around June when the hydrangeas are in glorious bloom.

Sightseeing time: 60 minutes

Go to Ueno Station, 28 minutes from Harajuku Station on the JR Yamanote Line (190 yen).

Ueno-koen Park
From the Koenguchi Exit of the Ueno Station, you will see Ueno-koen Park extending up over Ueno Hill in front of you. The park has several museums, concert halls, a zoo and many restaurants as well as a pond with rowboats, so the area is always filled with people enjoying the many available activities. On weekends, the park is a popular venue for street performers.

The art museums hold special exhibitions throughout most of the year, so you may unexpectedly encounter a masterpiece.

In the Edo Period (1603-1867), most of the park fell within the precinct of the Kan'ei-ji Temple, which is associated with the Tokugawa family.

Tokyo National Museum
Among the many museums situated in the vast Ueno-koen Park is the Tokyo National Museum, which specializes in Japanese and Oriental cultural assets. The Honkan (Japanese Gallery) is designated as an important cultural property.

Sightseeing time: 60 minutes
Admission: 600 yen

A 7-minute walk. On the way, you will catch sight of the five-story pagoda in the old Kan'ei-ji Temple, which was built in 1639. If you enter the Ueno Zoo, you can see the pagoda up close.

Ueno Toshogu Shrine
The Ueno Toshogu Shrine was built in reverence to Tokugawa Ieyasu, who founded the Edo Shogunate.
The red Karamon Gate and the wall are designated as national treasures. Take a moment for a closer look at the detailed carving and decorations in the Haiden (front shrine).
A beautiful exhibition of huge peonies is held in the Japanese Garden from 1 January to the end of February and from the middle of April to 5 May.

Sightseeing time: 20 minutes
Admission: 200 yen (600 yen for the Peony Garden)

A 5-minute walk.

Shinobazunoike Pond
In summer the pond is covered with lotus flowers, and in winter it is a haven for water birds. The cherry blossoms in spring are magnificent. You can also enjoy rowing a boat on the pond.

Admission: Free (600 yen for boat rental)

Shitamachi Fuzoku Shiryokan (Downtown Folk Craft Museum)
This museum is situated by the pond.
It represents everyday life in the downtown area about 100 years ago. In each room, you can see the actual utensils and paraphernalia used in everyday life and work.
Imagine life in a nagaya (tenement house) where people lived side by side, separated only by thin walls.

Sightseeing time: 30 minutes
Admission: 300 yen

A 5-minute walk. There are many long-established restaurants in this area that serve eel, tempura (deep-fried food) or western-style meals, so it's a good place to stop for a snack.

Kyu-Iwasaki-tei Garden
The residence of the Iwasaki family, founders of the Mitsubishi Group, designed by Josiah Condor in 1869. The attached Japanese-style house and billiard room still remain today. The western-style building with its delicate design is highly valued as representing modern Japan's wood buildings.
Guided tours are given at 11:00 and 14:00 every day except Thursdays.
On Saturdays, visitors can enjoy violin or piano concerts.

Admission: 400 yen

A 3-minute walk. 2 minutes from Yushima Station on the Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line (160 yen). Get off at Nezu Station.

In the Yanaka, Nezu and Sendagi area, normally called YA-NE-SEN, there are many temples, shrines and unique galleries, and the lifestyle of more than 50 years ago is still visible today.
Enjoy the downtown atmosphere, which is a little different from Asakusa, a major sightseeing area. A leisurely stroll through the small back streets will provide you with a view of the old days.

Nezu-jinja Shrine
This shrine is believed to have been founded about 1,900 years ago. The lacquer-coated Haiden (front shrine) built in 1705 is the largest shrine construction of the Edo Period (1603-1867). The normally quiet premises burst with vitality from the middle to the end of April when the azaleas are in bloom and during the festival season around 21 September.

A 5-minute walk up the Sansaki-zaka slope from Sendagi Station on the Tokyo Metro. On the way, you will see Japanese paper shops and temples. Enjoy the scenery as you walk among the old houses. A 10-minute walk.

Space Oguraya
This gallery is housed in the storage buildings of a pawnshop built in 1847 and 1917. Exhibitions ranging from paintings, craftwork and photography to fashion wear are held in the old buildings.
All sorts of old-fashioned utensils are set out as if ready to be used, so it is easy to imagine everyday life about 100 years ago in an old merchant house.

A 5-minute walk.

Asakura Choso-kan (Asakura Sculpture Museum)
This museum is housed in the former residence and studio of the sculptor Fumio Asakura. The studio is a western-style building and the residence is in traditional Japanese style with a garden and tea house, but they go together perfectly. This is an interesting space not only because of the sculptures, but also because of the architectural merit of the buildings.

Admission: 400 yen

A 5-10 minute walk to JR Nippori Station leisurely strolling along the back streets or window shopping at tortoiseshell craft shops or rice cracker shops.
5 minutes from Nippori Station on the JR Yamanote Line to Komagome Station.

Rikugi-en Garden
This richly endowed garden was created in 1695. Since its establishment it has been held in high esteem as one of the two largest gardens of the Edo Period (1603-1867) together with the Koishikawa Koraku-en Garden.
A small hilly area centering on a pond creates many scenic uphill and downhill spots. In the cherry blossom season in spring and in the season of autumn leaves, the trees are lit up at night so that the many visitors can enjoy the beautiful gardens.

Admission: 300 yen

8 minutes from Komagome Station on the JR Yamanote Line. Go to Shinjuku Station (160 yen).
A 10-minute walk from the West Exit. There is a pedestrian subway, but the above-ground route is recommended.
On the way, there are large electric appliance shops and many skyscrapers.

Observation Gallery in the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building
This observation gallery is situated on the 45th floor (202 m above ground level) of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building and is a popular place for enjoying the wonderful scenery of Tokyo free of charge. The night view is particularly splendid. There is a cafe and bar, so you can spend a relaxing time there.
You may be surprised at the gap between this and the towns you have just visited, but this dual nature is what epitomizes the exciting city of Tokyo.

Admission: Free

Go to Shinjuku Station on foot. Return home.