Tokyo continues to undergo redevelopment, limiting the areas where you can enjoy the old cityscape. However, Yanaka Ginza still retains much of its old charm, with rows of traditional private shops, a shopping street, and traditional houses.

The area also has plenty of nature, like the Yanaka Cemetery and Nezu Shrine with its many torii gates and azaleas, making it perfect for strolling. It's a popular area even among Japanese people, and I sometimes visit to refresh myself.

It's also famous as a "cat town," with many shops selling cat-related goods and foods. As a huge cat lover myself, one of the reasons I visit Yanaka Ginza is because it's a "cat town"!

Why is Yanaka Ginza Called a "Town of Cats"?

Lots of Cats

The Yanaka Ginza area has many environments suitable for cats, such as shrines and temples, the vast Yanaka Cemetery, and back alleys. It's said there were once hundreds of cats here, though the number has decreased recently. A few years ago, I did spot cats on the shopping street, but lately I haven't seen any.

However, compared to bustling areas like Shinjuku and Shibuya, there are fewer main streets here, so it's still a relatively cat-friendly, quiet environment. Even now, you can see signs of cats everywhere, like empty food bowls. As a cat lover, just seeing those traces is exciting!

The Yanaka Ginza Shopping Street Promotes Cats

yanaka ginza shopping street cats

Even with fewer cats around, this is still very much a town that loves cats. The whole shopping district promotes them, so there are many cat-themed goods and foods. Even if you don't see any real cats, you can still enjoy the feline theme to the fullest!

Seeing cat-related items everywhere on the street is heartwarming and shows how much they cherish cats here.

The Seven Lucky Cats of the Shopping Street

yanaka ginza lucky cats

The shopping street has seven wooden carved cat statues made by students from the Tokyo University of the Arts. It's said that finding all seven will bring you good luck, but they're not always at shop entrances - some may be on the roofs, making them hard to spot!

It took me a while to find them all on my first visit. Each of the seven has its own personality and is adorable, so I recommend searching for them!

Where to Meet Cats

So where can you actually meet real cats? That would be in the back alleys just off the Yanaka Ginza shopping street, the Yanaka Cemetery, or nearby shrines where there's less foot traffic.

Cats tend to avoid crowded areas like shopping streets and main roads. As someone who really wants to see cats, I always head straight to Yanaka Cemetery. 

There are volunteers who feed the cats in the Yanaka Ginza area, so with good timing, you might spot many of them! If you really want to meet cats for sure, another option is to visit one of Yanaka Ginza's cat cafes.

What is Yanaka Cemetery?

Although a cemetery may sound gloomy, this place has abundant nature, more like a park. You can even see the Tokyo Skytree, and the cherry blossoms in spring and fall foliage are spectacular, attracting many tourists.

It gives a bright impression overall but is very quiet since it's a cemetery. That makes it a cat-friendly environment, so you're more likely to see them here than on the streets. I've spotted many cats myself! They often lurk in gaps between gravestones or at the base of trees, so take your time looking around.

The cemetery is only about a 5-minute walk from the Yanaka Ginza shopping street, so cat lovers should definitely check it out. Just be mindful that it is a cemetery and observe proper manners.

yanaka cemetary

<Cemetery Information>
Address: Yanaka 7-chome, Taito City
Office Hours: 8:30 am - 5:30 pm*
*Entry is possible 24 hours

Cat Cafes in Yanaka Ginza Where You Can Meet Cats

・Yadori-gi Cafe & Restaurant to Interact with Rescued Cats

Yadori-gi Cafe
Source: Yadori-gi Cafe Official Website

This cafe & restaurant allows you to interact with the rescued cats living on the premises. Unlike many Japanese cat cafes that charge incrementally every 10 or 30 minutes, Yadori-gi has a set 1 drink + 1 hour for 1,200 yen, or 2 hours for 2,200 yen, which is reassuring.

Unusually for a cat cafe, they also offer meal plans, making it perfect for lunch. One of the draws is that the owner's husband is Italian, so you can enjoy authentic Italian cuisine! 

To protect the cats' health, there are many rules, such as not being allowed entry if you've had recent contact with other animals (including strays). While walk-ins are possible if there's availability, weekends often require reservations, so booking online in advance is recommended. I accidentally discovered this place while strolling Yanaka but couldn't go in since I didn't have a reservation!

<Store Information>
Address: 3-15-1 Yanaka, Taito City, Tokyo
Closed: Monday or Tuesday  
Phone: 03-5809-0864
Hours: 10:00 am - 8:00 pm

・Neco Republic

Neco Republic
Source: Neco Republic Official Website

With the theme of "every day is a cat adoption event," just visiting this spacious cafe supports cat welfare. The interior has a catwalk on the walls, allowing you to watch the cats strolling above! 

The fee is 1,100 yen for 30 minutes and up (additional charges on weekends). Private rooms are available for an extra cost, recommended for families or groups who want to relax with the cats. Reservations are prioritized, so check ahead.

<Store Information>  
Address: 3-9-15 Yanaka, Taito City, Tokyo 3F
Closed: Wednesday
Phone: 070-9090-2993  
Hours: 12:00 pm - 6:00 pm

Cat Lover's Recommended Cafe

・Cafe Nekoemon

Cafe Nekoemon
Source: Cafe Nekoemon Official Website

This cafe is housed in a renovated traditional Japanese home over 90 years old, with an exterior straight out of old Tokyo. Its biggest draw is decorating your own lucky cat figurine. You can decide everything about how it looks! A custom lucky cat makes a great souvenir.

If you're unsure about colors or patterns, there are plenty of lucky cats in the cafe that you can use as reference. My recommendation is to recreate the pattern of your own pet cat!

Cafe Nekoemon
Source: Cafe Nekoemon Official Website

Being a cafe, you can also enjoy coffee, cakes, and meals while you're there, no matter if it's lunchtime or just for snacks. The food menu means you can visit anytime.

<Store Information>
Address: 5-4-2 Yanaka, Taito City, Tokyo
Closed: Monday
Phone: 03-3821-0090
Hours: 11:00 am - 7:00 pm  

The Magical Trip tour includes a stop at Cafe Nekoemon for a lucky cat painting experience during the Yanaka walking tour. Joining a tour is recommended to efficiently experience the best of Yanaka!

>> Yanaka Historical Walking Tour in Tokyo's Old Town

Recommended Yanaka Ginza Street Food for Cat Lovers

Here is some street food in Yanaka Ginza that cat lovers will want to try.


Yanaka Shippoya

This shop specializes in stick donuts modeled after cat tails. They also sell chocolates and castella cakes shaped like cat paws, with seasonal flavors too. 

The cat tail donuts come in 12 different designs, including some very unique ones - I found myself looking for one matching my own cat! Of course, they not only look cute but use quality domestic ingredients for a delicious taste.

<Store Information>
Address: 3-11-12 Yanaka, Taito City, Tokyo
Closed: Irregular Holidays
Phone: 03-3822-9517
Hours: 11:00 am - 6:00 pm (Until 7:00 pm on weekends)

Recommended Cat-Themed Shops for Cat Lovers

・Nuno Fusen

Nuno Fusen
Source: Yanaka Ginza Official Website

This shop is popular for souvenirs like cat-themed rice bowls, chopsticks, and cups. Originally a handmade crafts store, it became a cat goods shop after a stray black cat wandered in and became the shop keeper!

Of course, that black cat is now the owner's beloved pet. You might get lucky and meet it during your visit. All the staff are cat lovers too, so you can enjoy chatting about cats - a universal topic that will liven up any conversation!

<Store Information>  
Address: 3-11-14 Yanaka, Taito City, Tokyo
Closed: Irregular Holidays
Phone: 03-5685-6788
Hours: 10:30 am - 6:00 pm

Neco Action

Neco Action
Source: Neco Action Official Website

Every single item sold here has a cat motif or theme. From stationery to kitchen goods and fashion accessories like t-shirts, there's a wide variety of cat-themed merchandise.

The interior has an antique, cute vibe with cat goods crammed everywhere you look - a cat lover's paradise where I couldn't stop looking around at all the options!

<Store Information>
Address: 3-10-5 Nishiikebukuro, Arakawa City, Tokyo 
Closed: Monday
Phone: -
Hours: 11:00 am - 6:00 pm

Enjoy Cat Art at Gallery Nekomachi

Source: Tripadvisor

Yanaka Ginza even has a gallery dedicated solely to cats. It features solo exhibitions by artists working with cats as their theme, displaying various mediums like ceramics, paintings, sculptures and photos depending on the current show. The unique gallery occupies a single house.

A gallery themed entirely around cats is quite rare. With the exhibitions changing periodically, it's a place you'll want to revisit again and again!

<Gallery Information>
Address: 2-6-24 Yanaka, Taito City, Tokyo
Closed: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday  
Phone: 03-5815-2293
Hours: 11:00 am - 6:00 pm

Recommended Spots Around Yanaka Ginza

Nezu Shrine

Nezu Shrine
Source: Nezu Shrine Official Website

Famous for its long approach of torii gates called the "Thousand Torii Gates" and colorful azalea flowers. While azaleas bloom in April, fall foliage like maple and ginkgo trees provide striking scenery in autumn too. The harmonious landscape of nature and shrine buildings is beautiful year-round.

Additionally, Nezu Shrine offers fortunes in four languages (Japanese, English, Chinese, Korean). Fortunes are about predicting personal luck, and I always draw one when visiting shrines. It's exciting to see what fortune you receive - give it a try!

<Shrine Information>
Address: 1-28-9 Nezu, Bunkyo City, Tokyo
Closed: None
Phone: 03-3822-0753
Hours: Varies by season

Tennoji Temple

Source: Tendai Buddhism Tokyo Website

Located within Yanaka Cemetery, this temple houses a large Buddha statue. It's known as a cherry blossom spot, allowing you to view both the Buddha and spring blossoms! The compact temple grounds only take about 10 minutes to walk around.  

There are benches where you can rest while admiring the large Buddha statue, so consider visiting during your stroll through Yanaka Cemetery.

<Temple Information>
Address: Yanaka 7-chome 14-8, Tokyo
Closed: None
Phone: 03-3821-4474

Recommended Cafes & Restaurants Around Yanaka Ginza

・CIBI - Recommended for Breakfast

Source: CIBI Official Website

While many shops on the Yanaka Ginza shopping street open around 11am, this cafe opens at 8:30am weekdays and 8:00am weekends. Their breakfast menu featuring homemade natural yeast bread is popular until 11:30am.

With most other shops opening later, it's convenient to have an early breakfast option like this.

They also offer homemade muffins, cakes, and seasonal ingredient-focused lunches. However, closing time is on the early side at 4:30pm weekdays and 5:30pm weekends, so it's best for morning cafe visits or lunch.

<Store Information>
Address: 3-37-11 Sendagi, Bunkyo City, Tokyo
Closed: None
Phone: 03-5834-8045
Hours: 8:30am - 4:30pm (Weekdays) / 8:00am - 5:30pm (Weekends)

・Onigiri Cafe Risaku - For Lunch at Yanaka Ginza

Onigiri Cafe Risaku
Source: Risaku Official Website

While onigiri (rice balls) are a convenient Japanese staple available at convenience stores, Risaku's onigiri use carefully selected ingredients and well-cooked rice, shaped with great care. They're plump and the fillings complement the delicious rice flavors.

With a wide variety of fillings to choose from, you're sure to find your favorites. My recommendations are the salmon and cheese with dried fish shavings! Besides onigiri, you can also get side dishes like miso soup and egg rolls for a hearty meal.

<Store Information>  
Address: 2-31-6 Sendagi, Bunkyo City, Tokyo
Closed: Wednesday
Phone: 03-5834-7292
Hours: 9:00am - 8:00pm

While encountering real cats in Yanaka Ginza depends on luck, there are plenty of cat-themed goods and foods for feline lovers to enjoy. Even if you don't spot any cats, it's a town cat enthusiasts can fully appreciate!  

The retro vibe of the old-fashioned streets and relaxed atmosphere also make it perfect for escaping the city hustle. Why not search for cats while leisurely strolling through historic Yanaka during your travels for a break?

If you have time, taking a tour around Yanaka is recommended. The Yanaka Historical Walking Tour in Tokyo's Old Town covers key spots over 3.5 hours, including a stop at Cafe Nekoemon for the lucky cat painting experience mentioned in this article. It's a great tour for first-timers to Yanaka!