In stark contrast to the rapidly redeveloping heart of Tokyo, the Yanaka Ginza area retains a wonderfully retro Showa-era townscape that seems frozen in time. Also known as "Cat Town", you can spot cats leisurely lounging here and there. As a cat lover, I'm always eager to wander through this charming neighborhood.

The Yanaka area is also one of the rare places in Tokyo where you can experience nature. It's an ideal area for a relaxed stroll to take in the sights.

This time, I'll introduce some recommended spots in the Yanaka Ginza shopping street. With its nostalgic retro streetscape, grand natural scenery, and adorable cats, Yanaka Ginza offers abundant charms to help you escape the daily grind and unwind.

What is the Yuyake Dandan Step?

Yuyake Dandan steps
Source: Jaran

The Yuyake Dandan (Sunset Steps) is the name of the staircase connecting the Gotenzaka slope to the Yanaka Ginza shopping street. True to its name, it offers beautiful sunset views, drawing many visitors in the evenings.

Since the steps lead down to the Yanaka Ginza shopping street, taking a photo from the top capturing the old Tokyo retro townscape with the sunset in the background is highly recommended. With perfect timing and weather, you can get a shot straight out of a movie.

As the Yuyake Dandan is just a regular staircase, it's usually not very crowded except during sunset or peak hours on the shopping street. So on a weekday afternoon, you may spot some cats leisurely lounging on the steps—a must-see for any cat lover.

Best Time to Visit the Yuyake Dandan Steps

"When visiting the Yuyake Dandan, I want to see the sunset at its most beautiful." For that, I recommend going during the magic hour.

The magic hour is divided into the golden hour before sunset when the sky turns red, and the blue hour after sunset when the lower portion of the sky is red while the upper portion turns blue. Of these, the blue hour is especially recommended.

Also called dusk, during the blue hour, objects take on a slightly different hue as the sky transitions between red and blue. Moreover, with the sun below the horizon, there are no shadows cast. This allows for romantic, fantastical photos.

The approximate sunset times are 4:30 PM in January, 6 PM in April, 7 PM in July, and 5:30 PM in October. However, the exact sunset time varies daily, so be sure to check for that day to not miss the fleeting blue hour right after sunset.

Accessing the Yuyake Dandan Steps

The Yuyake Dandan steps are adjacent to the Yanaka Ginza shopping street. Here are the train directions to the Yanaka Ginza shopping street.

- JR Yamanote, Joban, Toei Oedo lines, Keisei lines 5 min walk from Nippori Station
- Tokyo Metro Chiyoda line 5 min walk from Sendagi Station

Since the Yuyake Dandan is on the street heading from Nippori Station to the Yanaka Ginza shopping street, it's recommended to come from Nippori Station if your main destination is the steps.

If coming from other stations like Nezu, just walk through the Yanaka Ginza shopping street towards JR Nippori Station and you'll find the steps without getting lost.

Recommended Yanaka Ginza Street Food

Yanaka Shippoya

Source: Tabelog

Yanaka Shippoya is a specialty shop for baked cat tail-shaped donuts. Using carefully selected ingredients, they offer 13-14 different donut varieties. 

The most popular is the "Tora" (Tiger) - a black cocoa dough with white chocolate chips creating a tiger stripe pattern. My recommendation is the "Komugi" filled with milk cream. Gift boxes that can hold up to 8 donuts are also available, perfect for sharing an assortment.

<Store Details>
- Address: 3-11-12 Yanaka, Taito-ku, Tokyo  
- Closed: Irregular  
- Phone: 03-3822-9517
- Hours: 10 AM - 6 PM (Until 7 PM Sat/Sun/Holidays)
- Website:


Source: Tabelog

Grilled squid (ikayaki) is a popular Japanese street food, typically referring to grilled whole squid. However, the ikayaki at Yakiya is unique. It's a squid-filled, savory pancake-like snack that is quite rare to find in Tokyo.

Their popular menu item is the Ikasembe - squid stuffed between crispy crackers. Varieties include plain, with egg, green onions, or cheese. My recommendation is the cheese ikasembe.

- Address: 3-11-15 Yanaka, Taito-ku, Tokyo
- Closed: Irregular
- Phone: 090-1313-9999 Here's the rest of the translated article:
- Hours: 11 AM - 6 PM (Until 7 PM Sat/Sun/Holidays)  

Other Recommended Spots Around Yanaka Ginza

Yanaka Cemetery

yanaka cemetary
Source: Jalan

Yanaka Cemetery is about a 6-minute walk from the Yuyake Dandan steps. Surrounded by lush greenery like cherry blossoms and autumn foliage, it provides a tranquil nature experience away from the crowds.

The cemetery is the resting place of many famous figures, with a variety of gravestone styles to admire. It's quite expansive with no tall buildings, so you may even catch a glimpse of the SkyTree on a clear day.

With few people around, it's also a potential cat-spotting locale for feline lovers to add to their walking tour.

- Access: 6 min walk from JR/Keisei Nippori Station 
- Address: Yanaka 7-chome, Taito-ku
- Hours: 24 hours
- Admission: Free

<Management Office Hours>
- 8:30 AM - 5:30 PM

Nezu Shrine

Nezu shrine.jpeg
Source: Official Website

About a 15-minute walk from the Yuyake Dandan steps is Nezu Shrine, where you can walk through a path of torii gates reminiscent of Fushimi Inari in Kyoto. Having visited before, I can attest to its mystical, stunning beauty.

Additionally, the Nezu Shrine's azalea garden (Tsutsuji-en) opens in April to coincide with the Bunkyo Azalea Festival. With 3,000 azalea bushes in full bloom, it draws many visitors, sometimes requiring timed entry.

Nezu Shrine itself is highly historically significant, with 7 structures designated as National Important Cultural Properties.

- Access: 5 min walk from Tokyo Metro Nedu or Sendagi Stations
- Address: 1-28-9 Nezu, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo  
- Phone: 03-3822-0753
- Hours: Nov-Jan 9:30 AM - 4:30 PM
Feb, Oct 9:30 AM - 5 PM
Mar-Sep 9:30 AM - 5:30 PM  

<Azalea Garden>
- Open: Annually in April  
- Admission: 500 yen (subject to change)
- Hours: 9:30 AM - 5:30 PM
- Website:

Though just a regular set of stairs, the Yuyake Dandan offers unique views of the retro Yanaka Ginza shopping street, with potential cat sightings on weekday afternoons. To truly appreciate its beauty, time your visit for the magic hour when the lighting is most magnificent.

Lastly, I'd like to recommend a tour that covers the Yuyake Dandan and other highlights of Yanaka Ginza in one outing.

This tour begins at Nezu Station, visiting Nezu Shrine and taking a break at a traditional cafe. It includes a beckoning cat pottery painting experience before a walking tour of Yanaka Ginza, capped off with a meal at a renowned local Japanese restaurant. The tour ends at Yanaka Station.

For the quintessential way to experience all of Yanaka Ginza's charms, the Yanaka Historical Walking Tour in Tokyo's Old Town comes highly recommended.