Tokyo is the biggest city in the world, and you could easily spend your entire life exploring its eclectic shops, themed restaurants and noodle joints, and gazing up at the cityscape towering above. If you have visited Tokyo before and are anxious to get away from the more touristy neighbourhoods and explore a more authentic side of the city, these four neighbourhoods won’t disappoint.
Located in the Katsushika district of Tokyo, the neighborhood of Tateishi offers visitors a chance to escape the more bustling modern side of the city and explore an area oozing with nostalgic charm. Visit the covered market which looks as if a strong burst of wind could blow it over, and enjoy cheap vegetables and street fare at very non-Tokyo prices. The real appeal of Tateishi can be enjoyed with a simple stroll along the neon lit streets, taking in the locals as they live their everyday lives, out of the downtown Tokyo glare.
Jimbocho is located in the Chiyoda district of Tokyo, and is more often than not known by its nickname – Booktown. Home to a large majority of Tokyo’s publishing houses and book stores, the neighborhood is ideal for bibliophiles hoping to scour through antique shops for that perfect find. It isn’t surprising that a neighborhood referred to as Booktown, is also home to many of Tokyo’s intellectuals, with major universities within walking distance. Jimbocho is a terrific base for exploring Tokyo, if you have the funds to splurge you should check out the Palace Hotel Tokyo.
Most of Tokyo has been affected by either earthquakes or war throughout its history, so finding a neighbourhood that has retained its original historic features is rare. Yanaka, located in the district of Taito, is the go-to place for history lovers looking for a quiet day out in the city. Winding alleyways, small shops, and tree-lined streets make Yanaka an ideal choice for a day exploring by bike. The real gem is Yanaka Cemetery, draped in cherry blossoms every April, and home to fifteen Tokugawa shoguns who lived between 1192 and 1867. If you can’t visit Yanaka in the Spring, try to stop by on September 23rd for the traditional ohaka mairi, grave cleanings, where Japanese people go to the cemetery to pay respects to their ancestors.
A residential neighborhood in the district of Suginami, Asagaya is a great area to get your local dose of culture. After the Great Kantō earthquake in 1923, central Tokyo was in ruins. Asagaya became a refuge for the literary community, home to some of Japan’s most renown authors and poets. This little enclave became a kind of hipster oasis, drawing theatre groups, musicians, and artists. Fans of classic Japanese cinema, artisan crafts, and jazz music will feel at home visiting Asagaya today. On the last weekend of October the neighborhood hosts the Asagaya Jazz Streets Festival, a popular jazz event for fans of the genre, that erupts in a giant street party of sound and entertainment.
This post is in collaboration with Hipmunk with whom I am a paid contributor.