Did you know there are still spots where you can experience the traditional old Tokyo? That place is Yanaka Ginza and its surrounding area.

This itinerary is a guide to enjoying the area of "Yanaka Ginza," a traditional shopping street loved by the locals in Tokyo, in a half-day trip from 10 AM to 3 PM.

Redevelopment is taking place all over Tokyo, and the old shopping streets that supported the lives of the locals are disappearing.

However, this area has resisted redevelopment, with many people continuing to live here from long ago, and the old shopping street still remains lively.

Yanaka Ginza has various street foods and Japanese restaurants/cafes. Furthermore, it is known as a "cat town," and you can enjoy cat-related shops and cafes.

Nearby, there is the "Nezu Shrine" with a row of red gates that are photogenic, and it is a must-visit spot in combination with the shopping street. Additionally, Yanaka Ginza is easily accessible from "Ueno Park," a popular spot for cherry blossoms in spring and fall foliage in Tokyo.

For foreign tourists, local spots in Tokyo may have less information available and feel less approachable compared to urban areas like Shibuya or Shinjuku. However, I wrote this article hoping that you will experience the charming appeal of this town during your trip to Japan.

If you want to enjoy local spots in Tokyo in addition to other itineraries, please read to the end.

Then let me, your Tokyo navigator, take you on a half-day stroll through this downtown area!

Related article
Yanaka Ginza Guide: Experience the Local Life in Tokyo's Old Neighborhood
This related article comprehensively introduces the charm of Yanaka Ginza. If you have extra time during your half-day trip, you should be able to enjoy an even more fulfilling journey through Yanaka Ginza by referring to this guide.

Recommended Route for Experiencing Yanaka Ginza in a Half-Day

This half-day trip starts at 10 AM from Nezu Station on the Tokyo Metro, visits the historical Nezu Shrine, and then enjoys the shopping street. In the shopping street area, you can also enjoy shops related to "cats."

After the half-day trip, a plan to visit nearby Ueno Park or Akihabara via the JR Yamanote Line is also explained.

The main spots to visit are Nezu Shrine, Yanaka Ginza Shopping Street, and Yanaka Cemetery. The map below shows the stations to be used and these three spots.

10:00 AM Start the Trip from Nezu Station

Head to Nezu Station on the Chiyoda Line of the Tokyo Metro.

From famous places in Tokyo like Shinjuku or Shibuya where the JR Yamanote Line runs, it's easier to take a route where you go to Nishi-Nippori Station on the JR Yamanote Line and then transfer to the Tokyo Metro.

If you're staying around Ueno Station, you can also get to Nezu Station in about 15 minutes by taking the JR Yamanote Line to Nishi-Nippori Station and then transferring to the metro. However, you can also walk from Ueno Station to Nezu Station in 15-20 minutes, and it's recommended to walk while viewing the townscape of the old residential area.

Related Article
Tasty Breakfast in Yanaka Ginza
If you're planning to visit Yanaka Ginza earlier than 10:00 and want to have breakfast in this area, please refer to this article.

10:10 AM - 11:00 AM Nezu Shrine: Visiting a Photogenic Historical Spot

Nezu Shrine
Source: Nezu Shrine Official Website

Nezu Shrine, a sacred historical spot built in this land in 1705, is a 5-10 minute walk from Nezu Station.

At this shrine, you must visit the "Thousand Torii Gates." This refers to the sight of numerous red gates (called "torii" in Japanese) lined up, which is especially famous at Fushimi Inari Taisha in Kyoto, but a similar "Thousand Torii Gates" scenery can be enjoyed at Nezu Shrine.

Nezu Shrine is also known for having beautiful azaleas blooming within its grounds in April, attracting many flower-loving Tokyoites during this period. However, compared to Fushimi Inari Taisha in Kyoto, which I have also visited, Nezu Shrine is usually less crowded, making it easier to leisurely enjoy the photogenic "Thousand Torii Gates."

The opening hours start at 6 AM, so you can visit Nezu Shrine if you advance this itinerary by 2-3 hours. However, as many shops in the shopping street are open from 11 AM, I recommend arriving around 10 AM to enjoy the sacred atmosphere and then head to the shopping street.

Address: 1-28-9 Nezu, Bunkyo City, Tokyo 113-0031
Closed: None
Hours: 6 AM - 5 PM (Opening and closing times may vary depending on the season or events)
Website: https://nedujinja.or.jp/

11:15 AM - 0:30 PM Enjoy Street Food and Japanese Lunch at Yanaka Shopping Street

Yanaka Ginza Entrance
Source: Yanaka Ginza Shopping Street Official Website

The main spot of this half-day trip, Yanaka Ginza Shopping Street, is about a 15-minute walk from the previously visited Nezu Shrine.

In Japan, delicatessen shops where locals buy daily meals are called "sozaiya," and there are many such “sozaiya” in this old shopping street area where travelers can enjoy the delicatessen as street food.

In addition to street food, Yanaka Ginza has restaurants offering traditional Japanese cuisine at an affordable price, as well as stylish cafes in old houses.

You'll arrive here around lunchtime, so eat some street food or Japanese lunch!

I'll introduce some highly rated street foods, restaurants, and cafes that I personally recommend.

Access: 3-13-1 Yanaka, Taito City, Tokyo 110-0001

5 Recommended Street Foods at Yanaka Ginza

First, let me introduce 5 popular street foods in Yanaka Ginza.

While there are also attractive Japanese food restaurants and cafes in the shopping street, it's also fun to try conquering the street foods introduced here as a substitute for lunch.

The appeal of street food is that each item is delicious and inexpensive, but be careful not to get too full to walk during your trip!

Niku no Satou: Famous Deep-Fried Snacks

Niku no Sato
Source: Tabelog by a_monary

If you want to enjoy Japanese "sozai" (delicatessen) in Yanaka Ginza, this is the place I highly recommend without a doubt.

You can enjoy deep-fried dishes such as “menchikatsu” (minced meat cutlets), croquettes, and “karaage” (fried chicken) at an affordable price of 100-300 yen each.

I love this place so much that I can't help but want to try various deep-fried foods! There are many attractive fried items, so you might have a hard time choosing, but if you try one, I especially recommend the juicy “menchikatsu”.

<Store Information>
Address: 3-13-2 Yanaka, Taito City, Tokyo 110-0001
Closed: Mondays
Phone: 03-3821-1764
Hours: 10:00 - 19:30
Website: https://www.yanakaginza.com/ (Available in Japanese Only)

Yakiya: Squid Skewer Street Food

Yanaka Yakiya
Source: Tabelog by Wakameshi

"Yakiya" is a shop where you can enjoy "ikayaki," a Japanese skewered street food made by wrapping squid (called "ika" in Japanese) in a batter of flour and eggs.

The price varies from around 260-300 yen depending on the toppings. My personal recommendation is the ikayaki topped with mayonnaise.

In fact, the ikayaki sold at "Yakiya" is something you typically see in western regions of Japan like Osaka. Therefore, a shop selling this food is a rarity here in Tokyo, and it often has lines, but it's worth the wait, so I recommend trying it!

<Store Information>
Address: 3-11-15 Yanaka, Taito City, Tokyo 110-0001
Closed: Mondays
Phone: 090-1313-9999
Hours: 11:00 - 19:30
Website: https://twitter.com/ikayakiyakiya

Koshizuka: Juicy Hot Dogs and Skewers

Sendagi Koshizuka
Source: Koshizuka Official Site

"Koshizuka" is a famous butcher shop that attracts people from all over Tokyo.

They offer street food made with Japanese meat, and their juicy skewers and American hot dogs are popular.

Among the street foods in Yanaka Ginza, their items are slightly more expensive, with many items priced around 400-500 yen each. However, their American hot dogs are especially juicy and filling, so be sure to try them before they sell out.

While not suitable for walking and eating, this shop is actually famous for corned beef among Tokyoites. It's also nice to take some corned beef back to your hotel and leisurely enjoy it with Japanese beer or alcohol, reminiscing about Yanaka Ginza.

<Store Information>
Address: 3-43-11 Sendagi, Bunkyo City, Tokyo 113-0022
Closed: Wednesdays
Phone: 03-3821-9124
Hours: 10:00 - 19:00
Website: http://www.koshizuka.jp/ (Available in Japanese Only)
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sendagi.koshizuka/

Yanaka Shippo-ya: Cat Tail Doughnuts

Yanaka Shippoya
Source: Tabelog by ykh110389

Yanaka Ginza is also known as a "town that loves cats," and while there are cat goods shops and cafes where you can meet cats, at "Shippo-ya," they sell sweets inspired by cats.

The Japanese word "shippo" means "tail," and they sell 13-14 varieties of doughnuts in the shape of a cat's tail.

While various patterns and flavors are sold, I personally like the cute tiger-patterned doughnuts. Popular patterns may sell out, but you can also take them away, so be sure to visit this shop early and find your favorite "cat tail."

<Store Information>
Address: 3-11-12 Yanaka, Taito City, Tokyo 110-0001
Closed: Irregular
Phone: 03-3822-9517
Hours: 10:00 - 18:00 (Open until 7 PM on weekends and holidays)
Website: https://www.yanakaginza.com/ (Available in Japanese Only)

Yanaka Sembei Shinseindo: Representative Japanese Baked Confectionery

Source: Tabelog 996GT3MK2

"Sembei" is a traditional Japanese rice cracker that has been around for a long time.

"Shinseindo" always prepares about 10 types of sembei, from sweet ones coated with sugar to unique ones with sesame or shrimp flavors. Each one costs around 130 yen.

In old Tokyo, sembei shops were commonly seen, but now they are a rare sight. While I usually buy sembei products at supermarkets, which contain many of the same flavors, I like this shop because you can purchase different flavors one by one and try various types of sembei.

<Store Information>
Address: 7-18-18 Yanaka, Taito City, Tokyo 110-0001
Closed: Tuesdays
Phone: 03-3821-6421
Hours: 10:00 - 17:30
Facebook: https://x.gd/47bEg

3 Recommended Japanese Food Restaurants/Cafes in Yanaka Ginza for Lunch

In addition to the street foods introduced earlier, the shopping street has Japanese food restaurants and cafes.

Compared to street foods, restaurants and cafes tend to have longer wait times for lunch. However, if you want to try affordable traditional Japanese cuisine or a healthy Japanese set meal, be sure to check out the following three establishments.

Soba Azegami: Traditional Noodle Cuisine at a Reasonable Price

Source: Tabelog by YR

"Soba" is a traditional Japanese noodle dish loved by the common people of Tokyo, featuring thin noodles made from buckwheat flour and a broth of soy sauce and bonito.

For lunch at "Azegami," you can enjoy a set of soba noodles with a rice bowl topped with tempura or tonkatsu (pork cutlet) for 1,500-1,800 yen.

While a single serving of soba costs 700 yen, it's also recommended to try it if you're still hungry after eating street food.

It's a bit spicy, but I personally love their curry soba!

<Store Information>
Address: 3-11-11 Yanaka, Taito-ku, Tokyo
Closed: Mondays (closed every other Tuesday)
Phone: 03-5815-8710
Hours: 11:00-21:00 (Last order 20:30)
Details: https://www.yanakaginza.com/ (Available in Japanese Only)

TAYORI: Set Meals in a Warm Wooden Atmosphere

Source: TAYORI Official Website

TAYORI is a cafe renovated from an old house, and if you're there for lunch, I recommend the "teishoku" set meal.

"Teishoku" is a traditional Japanese set meal consisting of a main meat or fish dish, several types of vegetables, rice, and miso soup. TAYORI's teishoku sets are offered for around 1,500 yen and are popular among locals seeking healthy meals.

It's often crowded and you may have to wait a bit to get in, but I personally like that you can wait while enjoying the retro atmosphere of the garden with plants and flowers.

<Store Information>
Address: 3-12-4 Yanaka, Taito-ku, Tokyo
Closed: Mondays and Tuesdays  
Phone: 03-5834-7026
Hours: Wed-Sat 12:00-20:00 (Sun/Holidays until 18:00)
Website: https://hagiso.com/tayori/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/tayori_yanaka/

Yamagishi: Enjoying Eel in Yanaka Ginza

Source: Tabelog by Shinichi Nippori

Eel has been used as an ingredient in commoner's cuisine in Tokyo since long ago.

Especially "unajuu" or "unadon," where eel is coated with a sweet sauce and served over rice, is a delicacy, and at "Yamagishi," you can enjoy such eel dishes for 1,000-3,000 yen.

Although originally a commoner's ingredient, eel has actually seen a price hike in recent years due to overfishing. Therefore, "Yamagishi," which continues to offer delicious eel dishes at an affordable price, is a popular spot among many locals.

In fact, I'm a huge eel lover, but I often give up eating it because of the high prices. If I visit Yanaka Ginza, this is definitely a place I want to stop by!

<Store Information>
Address: 3-13-9 Yanaka, Taito City, Tokyo 110-0001
Closed: Tuesdays
Phone: 03-3827-5763
Hours: 11:00-14:00 / 17:00-20:00
Website: Unavailable

Related Article
Discover Yanaka Ginza: Best cafes and restaurants for lunch
This article introduces recommended lunch spots in a slightly wider area that includes the Yanaka Ginza Shopping Street.

0:30 PM - 2:00 PM Enjoy the "Cat Town" Yanaka Ginza Shopping Street

Yanaka Ginza and its surroundings have a dense residential area with relatively low traffic, making it a cat-friendly environment.

The local residents have cared for and loved cats roaming freely in this area. Therefore, the shopping street has many cat-themed objects, cafes, and shops.

Here, I'll introduce two options to fully enjoy the "Cat Town" Yanaka Ginza during your half-day trip.

Cafe Nekoemon: Painting Lucky Cat Experience

Cafe Nekoemon
Source: Cafe Neko-e-mon Official Website

In Japan, it is believed that the sight of a cat washing its face beckons good fortune, and figurines depicting this posture called "Maneki Neko" (Beckoning Cats) can often be seen.

At "Nekoemon," you can freely paint your own "Maneki Neko" figurine at this cafe, creating a one-of-a-kind lucky cat.

While the painting experience is enjoyable, I personally recommend trying the cute cat-inspired drinks and sweets as well.

The painting experience costs 1,620 yen for a small figurine and 2,160 yen for a large one, with drinks and food charged separately. Drinks cost 400-500 yen, and dessert sets are 700-800 yen.

There is also a shop selling Maneki Neko figurines designed by artists, so it's recommended to buy souvenirs for cat-loving friends there or get inspiration for your painting.

<Store Information>
Address: 5-4-2 Yanaka, Taito-ku, Tokyo
Closed: Mondays
Phone: 03-3821-0090
Hours: 11:00 - 19:00
Website: https://yanakado.com/c_nekoemon.html

Yadori Gi Cafe: Cat Cafe Where You Can Meet Cats

Source: Yadori Gi Official Website

This cafe, "Yadori Gi," is where "rescue cats" that were originally pets but couldn't return home gather.

As you can actually interact with the rescue cats, cat lovers are sure to have a delightful experience at this cafe. You can enjoy the cafe for 1 hour with 1 drink included for 1,200 yen, or for 2 hours for 2,200 yen.

I thought rescue cats would be wary, but many of the cats at Yadori Gi are friendly and will approach you, which is truly relaxing when you can touch them.

<Store Information>
Address: 3-15-1 Yanaka, Taito-ku, Tokyo
Closed: Mondays, Tuesdays
Phone: 03-5809-0864
Hours: 10:00 - 20:00
Website: https://www.yadorigicafe.com/

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Best Cat Cafes and Shops for Cat Lovers in Yanaka Ginza
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An article focusing on Yanaka Ginza as a "cat town."

2:10 PM - 3:00 PM Yanaka Cemetery: Strolling the Historical Graveyard and Green Streets

Yanaka Cemetery
Source: Wikipedia

After enjoying the food and "cat town" of Yanaka Ginza, walk 5-10 minutes to another famous spot, Yanaka Cemetery.

Yanaka Cemetery, established in 1874, is a traditional graveyard with graves of many historical figures and cultural figures of Tokyo.

Located on a hill, it offers a good view, making it a recommended spot to overlook the Yanaka Ginza area.

The well-maintained wide paths within the cemetery are beautifully lined with trees, and during the cherry blossom season in spring, many locals gather here to enjoy the "tunnel of cherry blossoms."

While there is the famous cherry blossom spot Ueno Park nearby, I personally prefer Yanaka Cemetery as it's less crowded and allows you to enjoy the cherry blossoms at a more leisurely pace.

After strolling through Yanaka Cemetery, if you have time, walk along the main street of the cemetery towards the nearest Nippori Station and visit Tennoji Temple. Here, you can enjoy the combination of large Buddhist sculptures and seasonal trees.

As Tennoji Temple and Nippori Station are located north of Yanaka Cemetery, it's convenient to enter the cemetery from the south side when moving from the shopping street.

Open 24 hours
Address: 7-5-24 Yanaka, Taito City, Tokyo 110-0001

3:10 PM Head to the End Point, Nippori Station

After enjoying Yanaka Cemetery, head to Nippori Station, the end point of this half-day trip. Nippori Station is on the JR Yamanote Line, making it easy to move to major spots like Shinjuku or Shibuya.

If you haven't decided your plans after the half-day trip, you can also visit the following two spots accessible from JR Nippori Station.

Ueno Park: Enjoying the Seasons and Various Leisure Facilities

Ueno Park
Source: Ueno Park Official Website

Ueno Park is a famous spot for cherry blossoms in spring and fall foliage, attracting many Tokyoites during these seasons to enjoy the seasonal flowers and trees.

From Nippori Station, the end point of this half-day trip, you can move to Ueno Station, the nearest station to Ueno Park, in about 4 minutes via the JR Yamanote Line (2 stations).

Within the park grounds, there are historical spots such as Kanei-ji Temple, art museums, a zoo with pandas, and more, allowing you to fully enjoy your time.

Personally, I especially like Ueno Park during the cherry blossom season when there are many food stalls, giving it a festival-like atmosphere. If you take this half-day trip in spring, be sure to visit Ueno Park as well.

Akihabara: Tokyo's Iconic Subculture District

Source: Wikipedia

Akihabara is one of Tokyo's leading districts for subcultures.

With many electronics stores and shops selling anime, manga, idol, and game goods, it's an essential spot to experience otaku culture in Tokyo.

In addition to shopping for subculture items, there are also many entertainment facilities such as game centers and karaoke boxes, making it a recommended place to kill time after the half-day trip.

From the end point of this half-day trip at Nippori Station, you can reach Akihabara Station in about 10 minutes via the JR Yamanote Line. Additionally, the JR Yamanote Line, Keihin-Tohoku Line, and Sobu Line, as well as the Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line, all run through Akihabara, making it accessible from major areas like Shinjuku, Shibuya, Ginza, Roppongi, and Tsukiji.

FAQs About the Half-Day Trip to Yanaka Ginza

Lastly, here are some frequently asked questions and answers about enjoying Yanaka Ginza in a half-day.

There are two stations near the shopping street, which one should I start from?

There is Sendagi Station on the west side and Nippori Station on the east side of the shopping street. Since Nippori Station is on the JR Yamanote Line and easily accessible from major spots, it is recommended to schedule your arrival at Nippori Station at the end. In this itinerary, the first stop is Nezu Shrine, which is on the same Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line as Sendagi Station, so aim for Nezu Station first instead of Sendagi Station when taking the metro.

What is the best time to arrive at Yanaka Ginza?

Arrive between 11 AM - 12 PM to find many shops open in the shopping street, allowing you to fully enjoy the street food, Japanese lunch, cat-themed shops, and shopping. Avoid coming before 10 AM or after 7 PM, as fewer shops will be open then.

How much budget is needed for the half-day Yanaka Ginza trip?

It is recommended to have around 10,000 yen in cash for this itinerary per person. The first stop, Nezu Shrine, is free to enter. If you just want to enjoy the street food, restaurants, and souvenirs, 5,000 yen would suffice, but if you plan to use cat cafes or painting experiences, which tend to be more expensive than regular cafes, having 10,000 yen will give you peace of mind. However, larger bills are sometimes not preferred at local shops (especially street food stalls), so be sure to have 1,000 yen bills on hand.

Are there any half-day tours available to enjoy Yanaka Ginza efficiently?

I'll introduce two recommended half-day tours that allow you to efficiently enjoy Yanaka Ginza.

"Yanaka Historical Walking Tour in Tokyo's Old Town" by Magical Trip

Yanaka Tour Magical Trip
Source: Magical Trip

This 3.5-hour tour of Yanaka Ginza by Magical Trip, which we provide, starts from Nezu Shrine like the itinerary introduced here. You can enjoy the spots in and around Yanaka Ginza while conversing with a local Japanese guide.

The tour includes the Maneki Neko (Beckoning Cat) painting experience at Cafe Nekoemon mentioned earlier. While it doesn't visit Yanaka Cemetery, it's only a 5-10 minute walk from the shopping street, so you can visit the cemetery on your own after the tour for a similar itinerary as introduced here.

"Yanaka Walking Tour The Old Quarter of Tokyo" by Tokyo Localized

Yanaka Tour Tokyo Localized
Source: Tokyo Localized

This 3-hour tour by Tokyo Localized visits not only the shopping street but also the representative historical spots of this area such as Nezu Shrine, Yanaka Cemetery, and Tennoji Temple.

While the tour covers various spots in a relatively short time, which may feel rushed, it's recommended for those who want to efficiently visit historical spots or enjoy original local alcohol, as it includes a stop at a place where you can try local drinks.

Yanaka Ginza is an old-fashioned shopping street packed with the charm of Tokyo's downtown area. Here, you can enjoy various street foods, restaurants, and cafes while interacting with the daily lives of local people.

In particular, it also has an aspect as a "cat town" that is irresistible for cat lovers like myself. Walking along the shopping street, you'll encounter adorable cat-themed goods and unique cafes.

I believe that by touching not only the urban aspects of Tokyo but also such local charms, you can gain a deeper understanding of Tokyo. 

When sightseeing in Tokyo, why not include a half-day trip to Yanaka Ginza in your itinerary? I'm sure it will become a wonderful memory.