Yanaka Ginza is an area of Tokyo that has escaped redevelopment and retains its old-fashioned charm. It's also famous as a "cat town" - as you explore the quiet backstreets and nature-filled walking spots, you just might encounter some feline residents!  

Yanaka Ginza is characterized by its many temples and shrines preserving traditional ways of life, as well as its numerous independent shops. Several specialize in traditional Japanese handicrafts. Many have been in business for over a century and place great importance on handmade craftsmanship.

Why not visit Yanaka Ginza and immerse yourself in the history and culture passed down in this traditional Tokyo neighborhood? It's a great place to get a taste of the good old days. In this article, as someone who used to frequent Yanaka, I'll introduce my recommended traditional craft shops to check out while strolling the Yanaka Ginza shopping street.

On Yanaka Ginza Shopping Street

Edo Mingei Amehiko

Source: Yanaka Ginza Shopping Street Official Website

As modern shopping centers proliferate across Tokyo, shops where you can encounter traditional Japanese crafts are becoming few and far between. If you want to see folk crafts deeply rooted in old Japanese ways of life, head to Edo Mingei Amehiko on Yanaka Ginza.

At Edo Mingei Amehiko, you'll find an array of folk crafts carrying on traditions from the Edo period over 100 years ago. They carry items that were used in daily life back then, locally-made pieces, old-fashioned toys, and other handmade goods produced by Japanese artisans. You just might discover the perfect souvenir!  

Some recommendations are the wooden kokeshi dolls and the auspicious daruma good luck charms made of papier-mâché. Distinctly Japanese folding fans made of paper are also perfect for cooling down in the heat.

<Store Information>
- Address: 3-11-14 Yanaka, Taito-ku, Tokyo  
- Closed: Tuesdays
- Phone: 03-3828-1729
- Hours: 10:00-18:00
- Website: https://x.gd/Nt0zT

Takekōgei Midori-ya

Source: Official Website

Bamboo crafts are another type of traditional Japanese handicraft that has long been a part of commoners' lives. Pieces made by artisans carrying on traditional techniques are not only practical but have an unadorned beauty. 

Takekōgei Midori-ya is a bamboo craft specialist shop that has been in business for over 100 years, now in its 3rd generation. Bamboo crafting is an extremely time and labor-intensive process, beginning with sorting the bamboo, splitting it, evening out the lengths, and then carefully weaving each piece together. Come appreciate the wonder of uniquely Japanese bamboo crafts at this shop.

Every piece is made with great care, but I especially recommend the chopsticks and coasters. Bookmarks also make great souvenirs. Be sure to pick up and examine their chopsticks made with special bamboo sourced from a 100-year-old Japanese house. 

<Store Information>
- Address: 3-13-3 Nishi-Nippori, Arakawa-ku, Tokyo
- Closed: Mondays
- Phone: 03-3828-7522
- Hours: 11:00-18:00
-Website: https://busekisuikou.com/midori-ya/

Yanaka Matsunoya

Source: Official Website

In the old days, tools for daily life in Japan were made by craftspeople in small town workshops and rural villages. Rather than intricate artistic pieces or mass-produced generic goods, simple everyday items were the norm. Yanaka Matsunoya is a shop where you can find practical goods that colored daily life in Japan in the past.

The products at Yanaka Matsunoya use natural materials as much as possible, are reasonably priced, and highly functional. They are carefully selected by the shop owners who travel directly to towns across Japan and Asia to source them. Yanaka Matsunoya also has its own original products.

My personal recommendations are the small brooms and straw trivets. The basketbags are a bit pricey but are sure to become a longtime favorite if you find one you love. 

<Store Information>
- Address: 3-14-14 Nishi-Nippori, Arakawa-ku, Tokyo 
- Closed: Tuesdays (open if a holiday)
- Phone: 03-3823-7441  
- Hours: 11:00-19:00
- Website: http://www.yanakamatsunoya.jp/

Around Yanaka Ginza Shopping Street

Café Nekoemon

Cafe Nekoemon
Source: Official Website

There are also several shops dealing in traditional Japanese crafts in the area surrounding Yanaka Ginza shopping street. One of them is Café Nekoemon, a renovated Japanese house over 90 years old. It's famous as a café where you can enjoy cute sweets and drinks with cat motifs.

In addition to the café, this shop sells maneki-neko - traditional Japanese cat-shaped figurines said to bring good luck to their owners. At Café Nekoemon, you can see many different types of maneki-neko in various colors like white, yellow, and black, some decorated with images of Mt. Fuji or calligraphy.  

The café also offers the chance to paint your own maneki-neko, so if you have time, take on the challenge of coloring your own original cat figurine!

<Store Information> 
- Address: 5-4-2 Yanaka, Taito-ku, Tokyo
- Closed: Mondays (or the following day if Monday is a holiday)
- Phone: 03-3821-0090
- Hours: 11:00-18:00
- Website: https://yanakado.com/c_nekoemon.html

Edo Bekko Tanaka

Bekkou Tanaka
Source: Official Website

Tortoiseshell crafts, with their distinct coloring and beautiful translucence, are another essential Japanese traditional handicraft. Made from hawksbill sea turtle shells, tortoiseshell has long been established as a high-end traditional craft in Japan, prized for its beauty.

Edo Bekko Tanaka is a tortoiseshell shop that has been in business for over a century. The current owner is the 3rd generation and has made many tortoiseshell glasses in particular. In addition to eyewear, they also sell tortoiseshell accessories like earrings, pendants, and hair pieces that go well with any outfit.

I personally recommend the pendants. Their cool and chic impression makes them a perfect gift for older women. Edo Bekko Tanaka adheres to the Washington Convention and strives to balance sea turtle conservation with preserving traditional techniques.

<Store Information>
- Address: 3-22-8 Yanaka, Taito-ku, Tokyo
- Closed: Sundays & Holidays 
- Phone: 03-3828-9870
- Hours: 10:00-17:00
- Website: https://www.tanakabekko.jp/

Kikujudo Isetatsu

Source: Official Website

For a casual way to enjoy Edo culture, how about some colorful Japanese paper called chiyogami? Chiyogami refers to traditionally-made Japanese paper decorated with colorful traditional patterns and motifs inspired by nature and daily life. Since long ago, each sheet has been made by hand, printed using hand-carved wooden blocks.

Kikujudo Isetatsu is a long-established chiyogami shop founded in 1864. Pretty chiyogami paper comes in many colors and designs, and was especially popular as a collectible among young girls in the past. Kikujudo Isetatsu preserves that tradition and still makes traditional hand-printed chiyogami today.

Chiyogami is a precious traditional craft that cannot exist without three key artisans - the illustrator who designs the patterns, the carver who makes the woodblocks, and the printer who prints each sheet by hand. Come to Kikujudo Isetatsu to appreciate this beauty and find your favorite designs!

<Store Information>
- Address: 2-18-9 Yanaka, Taito-ku, Tokyo  
- Closed: Open daily
- Phone: 03-3823-1453
- Hours: 10:00-18:00
- Website: https://www.isetatsu.com/

This article introduced recommended shops around the retro Yanaka Ginza area where you can encounter traditional handicrafts. It's a neighborhood famous as a "cat town" with abundant nature spots, so why not stop by some traditional craft shops while out for a stroll?  

Japanese traditional crafts come in many varieties - cute figurines that make great souvenirs for kids, colorful washi paper, practical tools for daily life, and some pricier items conveying the simple and functional beauty of Japan. Be sure to check out the shops that interest you and find your favorites!

For an efficient way to explore the walking spots and shops, I also recommend taking a guided tour. The Yanaka Historical Walking Tour in Tokyo's Old Town provides a local perspective to enjoy Tokyo's traditional culture and history. Make some special memories with a knowledgeable and experienced guide! 

Check out the tour >>https://www.magical-trip.com/product/460ceb6f-0099-47a6-a447-2de274da7e9f