Tokyo, one of the world's greatest metropolises, is the center of Japan's economy, politics, and culture. Constant redevelopment in areas like Shinjuku and Shibuya means the city is always evolving.

While major restaurant chains and trendy eateries continue to grow, there are also many long-standing old-fashioned cafes and beloved local shopping streets. The appeal of these shopping streets is the sense of connection between "customers and shopkeepers" and among "neighboring shops" stemming from their close-knit community feel.  

So this time, I'll take a big look at popular shopping streets where you can experience the traditional side of Tokyo! I'll also introduce local specialties and recommended souvenirs, allowing you to discover a uniquely Japanese delight distinct from Tokyo's modern face.

Yanaka Ginza Shopping Street

The Yanaka Ginza (Yanaka-Ginza) shopping street in Tokyo's downtown area has around 60 shops lining its 170-meter length. It's located about a 5-minute walk from either JR Nippori (Nippori) Station or the Sendagi (Sendagi) subway station.

Originating around 1945, the beloved Yanaka Ginza has seen many visitors from other prefectures and overseas in recent years. Currently led by younger members, seasonal events like a winter Shichifukujin (Seven Lucky Gods) tour and summer festival are gaining popularity.  

Enjoy strolling through the nostalgic shops selling traditional Japanese snacks and sweets, as well as goods perfect for souvenirs.

Recommended Shops on Yanaka Ginza


Source: Tabelog

Goto-no-ame has been making handmade candies in Yanaka for over 100 years. They offer classic flavors like honey, matcha, roasted green tea, yuzu citrus, plum, and mint, as well as seasonal limited editions. Using quality ingredients, they carefully handcraft the candies without any unnecessary additions to preserve the fresh flavors. As this causes them to spoil quickly, they don't offer online sales.

I recommend the ginger candy that tastes like biting into fresh ginger, and the tomato candy with a natural tomato sweetness. They're also popular for traditional snacks like karinto and senbei crackers sourced nationwide.

<Store Information>
- Address: 3-15-1 Nishi-Nippori, Arakawa-ku, Tokyo
- Tel: 03-3821-0880  
- Hours: 10:30am - 7:00pm
- Closed: Wednesdays
- Access: 5 min. walk from JR Yamanote Line Nippori Station / 5 min. walk from Chiyoda Subway Line Sendagi Station, right at Yanaka Ginza entrance
- Official Website:

Yanaka Kenshindo

Kenshin do
Source: Tabelog

For a break while sightseeing, I recommend Yanaka Kenshindo, a Japanese sweets and goods shop on the 2nd floor right at the street entrance.

Be sure to try their "Shira-tama Mizu Anmitsu," chewy white balls in a refreshing water jelly topped with matcha syrup and red bean paste. The set also comes with green tea and salty konbu, allowing you to enjoy sweet, bitter, and salty flavors together - my favorite part.

The shop also sells stylish Japanese sundries like hinoki wood cups and goods featuring their original zamurai (samurai bear) character mascot - perfect souvenirs.

<Store Information>
- Address: 3-11-15 Yanaka, Taito-ku, Tokyo
- Tel: 03-4283-5200
- Hours: 10:30am - 7:00pm  
- Closed: Wednesdays
- Access: 5 min. walk from JR Yamanote Line Nippori Station / 5 min. walk from Chiyoda Subway Line Sendagi Station, inside Yanaka Ginza
- Official Website:

Nakano Broadway

Known as the "Mecca of Subcultures" and "Otaku Holy Land," Nakano Broadway is a major shopping complex in the Nakano Sunmall shopping street, a 5-minute walk from JR Nakano Station. Japan's otaku culture is popular overseas too, making this a hit with foreign visitors.

The symbol of Nakano Broadway is the manga mega-store Mandarake. In addition to the main store boasting a staggering manga collection, over 30 branch stores specialize in retro anime goods, idol merch, and more.

There are also many niche shops for hobbies like trains, cosplay, and card games. With various eateries and grocers too, many come just for the local delicacies. Be sure to immerse yourself in Nakano Broadway's uniquely deep world!

Recommended Shops at Nakano Broadway

Daily Chiko

Source: Tabelog

Daily Chiko on the B1 floor of Nakano Broadway is famous for its massive soft-serve ice creams. The large size is a whopping 30cm of ice cream alone and makes quite an impact! In addition to classic vanilla and chocolate, they offer seasonal flavors like Mont Blanc and Ramune. The 8-flavor rainbow stack is a signature.

While ice cream is their specialty, the menu also includes udon, soba, and other hot dishes. I often order the hot kake udon, with firm noodles in a rich broth - simple but satisfying. It's standard to add a tempura topping.

<Store Information>
- Address: Nakano 5-25-15, Nakano-ku, Tokyo, Nakano Broadway B1F
- Tel: 03-3386-4461
- Hours: 10:00am - 8:00pm
- Access: 6 min. walk from JR Chuo Line Nakano Station North Exit / 384m from Nakano Station  
- Official Twitter:

A License

Source: Official Twitter

A License has been operating in Nakano Broadway for 58 years, a long-standing café where you can leisurely enjoy meals or tea time. The menu includes standard Western dishes like hamburger steak, Neapolitan pasta, and curry, as well as nostalgic desserts like chocolate parfaits and melon floats.  

My favorite is the morning set available from 10:30am-12:00pm. For just +200 yen on top of any drink, you get a thick toast, mini salad, and boiled egg. It makes for a nice early light lunch too. Relax in the calm atmosphere reminiscent of days gone by.

<Store Information>
- Address: Nakano 5-25-15, Nakano-ku, Tokyo, Nakano Broadway 2F
- Tel: 03-3386-1356
- Hours: 10:00am - 6:30pm
- Closed: Wednesdays  
- Access: 6 min walk from JR Chuo Line Nakano Station North Exit / 384m from Nakano Station
- Official Twitter:

Sugamo Jizodori Shopping Street

The Sugamo Jizodori Shopping Street (Sugamo-jizoudohri-shotengai) has around 200 shops lining its 780-meter length, about a 5-minute walk from JR Sugamo Station. Nicknamed "Harajuku for Grandmas" after the trendy Harajuku district, it's popular with people of all ages.

Along the shopping street are temples like Kogan-ji with the Togenuki Jizo statue, and Shinsho-ji with the Edo Roku Jizo, where you can pay respects to Jizo Buddhas. Jizo are beloved guardian deities in Japan.

With its nostalgic, friendly hospitality, Sugamo Jizodori isn't just for the elderly - it's also popular with youths and foreign visitors. From Japanese sweets like ohagi, senbei, and daifuku to savory snacks like nikuman and yakitori, it's a great place for eating your way through the shops.

Recommended Shops on Sugamo Jizodori


Source: Tabelog

Raijindo has been making senbei crackers in Sugamo for over 30 years, using domestic rice, soy sauce, and handmade methods. Their #1 bestseller is the "Nurekari-mochi" - the center is coated in sweet soy sauce while the surface has a saltier variety, giving you two flavors in one cracker.

My personal go-to is the "Nuresen Sweet" variety, with a pleasantly sweet-salty soy sauce soaked into a moist, tender cracker that's easy for foreigners to enjoy as a souvenir. Other varieties include "Ni-do-zuke" (double-coated), "San-do-zuke" (triple), all the way up to "Ju-do-zuke" (ten coatings), and a very spicy version with plenty of chili pepper.

<Store Information>
- Address: 3-21-15 Sugamo, Toshima-ku, Tokyo
- Tel: 03-3576-8558
- Hours: 10:00am - 6:00pm
- Access: 5 min. walk from JR Yamanote Line Sugamo Station Entrance / 2 min. walk from Toden Arakawa Line Koshin-dzuka Station 
- Official Website:

Shiodaifuku Mizuno

Source: Sugamo Jizodori Shopping Street Official Site

One of Sugamo's specialty sweets is the salt daifuku (salted sweet rice cake) from Shiodaifuku Mizuno, conveniently located right at the Sugamo Station entrance. They've been making Japanese confections in Sugamo since 1937. Using carefully selected domestic ingredients and adjusting the salt levels seasonally, their daifuku boasts an exquisite balance of sweetness and saltiness, with delightfully chewy rice cakes.

In addition to seasonal sweets like sakura mochi in spring, cold water manju in summer, and sweet potato kintons in fall, they also offer savory snacks like red rice and inari sushi. There is a small eat-in space too, perfect for a break during your stroll.

<Store Information>
- Address: 3-33-3 Sugamo, Toshima-ku, Tokyo  
- Tel: 03-3910-4652
- Hours: 9:30am - 6:30pm
- Access: 5 min. walk from JR Yamanote Line Sugamo Station Entrance / 2 min. walk from Toden Arakawa Line Koshinduka Station
- Official Website:

Ameyoko Shopping Street in Ueno

Connecting JR Ueno and Okachimachi Stations, the Ameyoko Shopping Street has over 400 shops lining its roughly 500-meter length, making it one of Tokyo's most famous market streets.

It is said that the name "Ameyoko" came from the fact that there were many candy shops and American-born products available when the area was first established. “Yokocho" is a street slightly inside the main street.  

You can find all sorts of inexpensive items here, from fresh food and sweets to sundries, cosmetics, fashion, and Japanese souvenirs. It's easy to go overboard with the enticing deals! Another highlight is the lively calls from the shop staff welcoming customers inside. Be sure to enjoy the friendly banter!

Recommended Shops on Ameyoko

Shimura Shoten

Source: Tabelog

A famous Ameyoko icon is the chocolate "knocking" at Shimura Shoten. It's the 16th shop from the JR Ueno Station entrance. To rhythmic calls of "Put it in, put it in!" and "Bonus!", chocolate snacks rain into a bag in an energetic performance. For just 1,000 yen, you get about 2,000 yen worth of chocolate - a real deal!  

In addition to the knocking show, they also sell boxed rice crackers and assorted cookies, perfect for souvenirs. Experiencing this quintessential Ameyoko tradition is a must when visiting Ueno.

<Store Information>
- Address: 6-11-3 Ueno, Taito-ku, Tokyo
- Tel: 03-3831-2454
- Hours: 10:00am - 5:30pm
- Access: Right outside the Shinobazu Exit of JR Ueno Station / Right outside the North Exit of JR Okachimachi Station / Near Exits A2/A5/A7 of Tokyo Metro Ginza Line Ueno-Hirokoji Station
- Official Website:


Source: Tabelog

Cha-no-Kiminoen has been a Japanese tea specialty shop in Ueno for over 100 years. In addition to their tea leaf selection, their matcha-flavored sweets and soft serve are very popular with foreign guests.  

I recommend the "Matcha Mixed Soft Serve" which lets you enjoy both rich matcha and refined sweet vanilla flavors. The balance of the two is just right - a signature from this long-standing tea house. There are about 10 seats for eating in too.

On the 2nd floor is an array of over 200 tea-related goods like teapots and cups, perfect for souvenirs.

<Store Information>  
- Address: 4-9-13 Ueno, Taito-ku, Tokyo
- Tel: 03-3831-7706
- Hours: 10:00am - 8:00pm
- Closed: Every 3rd Tuesday
- Access: Right outside the Shinobazu Exit of JR Ueno Station / Right outside the North Exit of JR Okachimachi Station / Near Exits A2/A5/A7 of Tokyo Metro Ginza Line Ueno-Hirokoji Station  
- Official Website:

This article featured some of Tokyo's nostalgic shopping streets, but how was it? While Tokyo continues modernizing, there are still plenty of places that capture the charming atmosphere of old Japan, as well as chances to experience the pop culture Japan is renowned for.

The unique appeal of these market streets lies in the food stall hopping, souvenir hunting, and warm interactions with friendly shopkeepers. When deciding which area to visit, choosing one near other sightseeing spots can make for an efficient travel plan. 

Be sure to make some special memories by experiencing one of these shopping streets on your trip to Japan!